Danger in American ports, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
As we discussed last night, a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates has bought a British company that does work in some American ports — places like New York and Miami. This has caused shock and awe on talk radio and on Capitol Hill, where elements on both the left and the right want to kick the Arab company out.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: But it's unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history, four years after 9/11, to entertain the idea of turning port security over to a company based in the UAE, who avows to destroy Israel.
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Now with all due respect to Senator Graham, whom we do respect, we could find no evidence the UAE government wants to destroy Israel — none. In fact, the Emirates, along with Jordan, is America's best Arab state ally in the War on Terror. That company allows U.S. planes to base on its soil. It's a tremendous help in intelligence gathering.
So let's cut through all the bull and grandstanding. If the Bush administration fires the Emirates company without cause, it spits in the eye of a strong Mideast ally. I hope everybody understands how dreadful that would be.
The USA cannot win the War on Terror without the help of moderate Arab nations. "Talking Points" believes we will actually lose the terror war unless we build alliances in the Middle East. Right now, there's no reason to fire the Arab company, except that they are Arabs. Isn't that racism? Can America afford to send that message to the world?
Think about the unintended consequences of that. They're staggering. There's nothing bin Laden would like more than for the USA to alienate the United Arab Emirates.
So we have to give the new company a chance to work in our ports, but with strict oversight. And any foreign company should have that these days. The Bush administration has to monitor all aspects of port operations. And the new Arab company has to understand that.
As for the demagogues insisting we kick the Arabs out of the ports, one question: Is that smart? The answer is no, that's not smart. That would hurt us dramatically in the War on Terror.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day," an update on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who is using my name to bring attention to the atrocities in Darfur, Africa. By the way, I don't really mind Kristof doing that, but it is absolutely ridiculous.
Quoting Kristof, he has raised more than $700,000 to send me to the Sudan, pledges from his loyal readers. But I have a suggestion: It's obvious I can't go to Africa — as much as I think it would be interesting — because I have commitments on radio and television, commitments Mr. Kristof doesn't seem to understand.
So I propose he collect the $700,000 and give it to Doctors Without Borders, a charitable organization that helps people all over the world. That way Kristof's grandstanding would actually have a concrete benefit.
What say you, Nick, old chap? To remain silent might be ridiculous.
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