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Alternative Perspectives on the Port Deal

With both Republicans and Democrats attacking the White House over its proposed port deal with the United Arab Emirates, it’s worth noting that many people feel that the issue of port ownership is either irrelevant to national security (in the New York Times), symptomatic of xenophobic rage (Andrew Sullivan) or just plain opportunistic politics (Think Progress).

Excerpts:

New York Times: WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — In the political collision between the White House and Congress over the $6.8 billion deal that would give a Dubai company management of six American ports, most experts seem to agree on only one major point: The gaping holes in security at American ports have little to do with the nationality of who is running them.

The deal would transfer the leases for ports in New York, Baltimore and Miami, among others, from a British-owned company to one controlled by the government of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates. But the security of the ports is still the responsibility of Coast Guard and Customs officials. Foreign management of American ports is nothing new, as the role already played by companies from China, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and trading partners in Europe attests.

Andrew Sullivan: If people are worried about the ports, they need to scrutinize the Coast Guard and the administration’s own DHS. Much of the rest is xenophobic nonsense. Leave that crap to Lou Dobbs.

Think Progress: This issue has little, if anything, to do with national security and far more to do with politics. Xenophobic conservatives have found allies with liberals on this issue because liberals are a) looking for any opening to criticize Bush on national security; and, b) think they can do that by outflanking Bush to the right on this issue and therefore sound “tougher” and “stronger.” The blogosphere, being somewhat insulated from political pressures, should have a more thorough discussion of this issue.

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