U.S. Ports Should Be Off Limits to Foreign Companies

Here's the attack I'm now getting from administration supporters and other Republicans who are rallying behind the Dubai ports deal.

This is a business deal, they're saying. Just an ordinary business deal to push the paper and the steel boxes that come through ports.

As a business deal it's just a matter of a willing seller and a willing buyer. And if the U.S. government says it's OK for the Brits to run the ports, why is not OK for the Arabs from the UAE to run the ports?

If you say it's not OK, then you're a racist.

You're just Islamophobic.

You're just an Arab-basher.

Since I'm not a racist or Islamophobe or an Arab-basher, I guess my question is: Why are ports open for foreign companies or foreign governments to run anyway?

Why are ports just another asset that can be bought and sold like any other product or company?

Look at it this way. Suppose I were to read the following story on the news at a future date:

Hi everybody. The big story tonight is a dozen nuclear power plants near major American cities operated by Westinghouse and General Electric will be taken over by Dubai Ports Power, a subsidiary of Dubai Ports World. The change in operators will occur when DPP completes the acquisition of both General Electric and Westinghouse in an all-cash deal for stock in both companies.

In fact, that can't happen because under U.S. law the license to run a nuclear power plant cannot be transferred to a foreign company or foreign government.

Do I hear anybody saying it's racist because we don't let Dubai Ports World, an Arab-owned company, run nuclear power plants in this country? No.

It's not racism. It's not xenophobia. It's just common sense.

Ports are being treated as if they were a theme park owned by Disneyland, sold to whoever wants it.

I say ports are different. And maybe our mistake is that any foreign entities are allowed to operate U.S. ports.

It's also wrong to call people who oppose this deal ingrates. Of course we value the UAE's efforts in the War on Terror. Of course I'm glad they cooperated with Gen. Tommy Franks when we were ramping up a war. I just don't think the ports should be treated as a reward to a good friend.

The ports are like the nuke plants: off limits. And please take no offense.

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