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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Display of Prejudice Veiled in Concerns About Security

I will start this post by first expressing my disappointment at those Americans who are exercising their prejudice in opposition to a global free market transaction this week. Those who are coming out swinging on the Dubai port story are at a minimum misinformed about the state of today's global business. But I refuse to believe that the leaders of the United States Congress are misinformed - On this issue, it is safe to say that their "outrage" and fear-mongering is at least partly rooted in xenophobia and driven by political opportunism - one that seeks to tap into latent prejudice (what Dr. King once referred to as a societal sickness) and post 9/11 fears and protectionism.

The president is doing the right thing on this issue. He is standing up against his own political party to make a strong statement against prejudice in contemporary America. He is sending exactly the right message, which America desperately needs in order to start the healing process for its image overseas while democrats and republicans in Washington are busy sending the wrong message to the world - a message that would invariably validate the cynicism and anti-Americanism of many around the world.

Those who are rallying the wayward train on this issue know very well what the other side of the coin to their rhetoric is. They know that US companies are earning millions of dollars in Dubai construction and expansion projects. They know that US firms manage major oil infrastructure in Gulf countries, which by American standards are of special national security interest to local Arabs.

If security is their only concern, then it would be helpful for them to remember that General Abizaid and CENTCOM are sitting in Doha, Qatar and that a network of US military support services are based in the Gulf, including in the UAE where US Naval ships dock quite frequently.

If foreign control of US strategic assets is their concern, then maybe they ought to know (and they do) that Toshiba, a Japanese company, is on the verge of buying Westinghouse Electric Co., a builder of nuclear power plants, and that government-owned Chinese companies are currently managing a container port in long beach, California, as well as both sides of the Panama Canal.

These same critics are also aware of the fact that Dubai Port World operate port facilities in three continents already, with presence in countries like Australia, Romania, Germany, China, India, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic. The present contract for the six US ports was managed by Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., a British company, until the takeover by DP World. The same union workers and the same procedures used under the Peninsular contract would be used under the DP World contract. DP is not going to ship in thousands of workers from Bangladesh. Even if you believe that U.S. customs and immigration authorities are utterly blind, you have to concede that American labor unions will raise hell at the slightest change in job conditions and/or suspicious cargo activity - they are, after all, American citizens before being American workers.

Globalization is not the sole property of American enterprise. It is called 'globalization' for a reason - it is why a government-owned Spanish company (AENA) is managing several airports in Mexico; why private foreign companies control some 45% of Algeria's crude oil production; and why private Indian firms are competing for major stakes in the U.S. software industry.

The "uproar" does not have much to do with security. The contract in question is about operation and management of port facilities. The security function is the responsibility of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Yes, the topic of port security is deserving of much attention. There are many things the government can do to enhance port security by developing and deploying advanced sensor technology and increasing staffing levels of security and customs personnel. They can also greatly improve their intelligence capability in order to deal with threats in a non-intrusive, yet effective fashion.

American lawmakers will be betraying their own history if they shut down global trade transactions or discriminate based on national origin - because it is protectionism and the old beast of discrimination which pose a much bigger menace to American economic and national security than the inherent risks of open trade and open societies.

6 Comments:

Blogger Sonia said...

D'apres ce que je comprends, les Americains ont peur de DP World pour la securite (passage de terroristes facilites) et parce que ce sont des interets americains qui passent sous controle arabe (excuse moi pour la simplification, c'est juste pour la redaction du commentaire).

Je suis tout a fait d'accord avec toi, que les critiques des gens au pouvoir montrent qu'il y a association "par defaut" entre arabe et terrorisme, et que la mondialisation "dans l'autre sens" derange...

Ce sur quoi je voudrais insister, c'est sur le sentiment anti-americain qui croit et qui ne cesse de gagner du terrain, meme au pres des plus moderes. Grosso modo, en langage parle, "ils abusent, mais grave de chez grave!"

Il est clair que les Etats Unis, le peuple americain ont des qualites indeniables et essentielles (gentillesse, amabilite, droiture, honnetete, etc... ) mais a l'etranger, la politique internationale des US est horrible! Et elle est percue comme telle. Ils bafouent beaucoup de regles, ne donnent pas d'explications dessus, ne se donnent meme pas la peine de les couvrir, et se permettent de donner des lecons! Ca a commence par les PVD, ca continue meme avec leurs soi-disant allies! C'est vraiment dire au monde: "On vous emmerde!"

Il faudrait que les Americains comprennent peut-etre qu'il n'y a pas que les taxes et l'avortement pour juger d'un candidat (oui je sais, ca fait tres prejuge et reducteur de ma part, mais apparemment ils n'en font pas moins pour choisir leur president...)

Bref, la moutarde de plus en plus monte au nez, et il leur faut arreter de vouloir le beurre et l'argent du beurre, avec en bonus, le sourire de la cremiere!

February 24, 2006

 
Anonymous Nadir said...

It's always America's fault no matter what the issue is. Why? it's allowed, ala Murphy's Law.
‘Globalization’ is an ideology just like ‘Liberal Democracy’; it’s all in the mind of the beholder. If US firms manage oil infrastructure in Gulf countries it’s not by choice but by necessity, same goes for where General Abizaid is. Arabs (the haves) should and are grateful to America.
As far as I know, DP World is not a company, it’s a government and has plenty of money and lawyers to make the deal stick, so just who are we defending/against here?
My respect Jawad,

Nadir

March 03, 2006

 
Blogger Jawad said...

Nadir:

First of all welcome back. I'm really glad to hear from you.

Regarding your comment - I think you missed the point of my post. This is not about defending a specific company. You are right - they are big enough to take care of themselves. Nor was the post an attempt to blame the US. In fact, I praised president Bush for his stand at the very begining of the post.

However, this is about principle Nadir. It's about defending free enterprise (you can label globalization an ideology - fine with me - But I am on the side of economic freedom and opportunity) and about condemning prejudice and ant-Arab / anti-Muslim hysteria. This is wrong like anti-Semitism in the Arab world is wrong; like anti-Americanism in many corners of the World is wrong. That's what I am condemning.

The Washington Post conducted a Survey today finding that anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments are way up in America. This is not helped by biased political speech from congressional leaders who, in effect, made it acceptable in current-day America to hate again – and hate publicly without shame. This is unacceptable!!! – I came to this country riding the promise of Martin Luther King not that of Governor Wallace....and America came a long way to revive old demons now - regardless of where the rest of the world stands or if other countries behave better or worse.

Political leaders and political pundits in this country can disguise this situation in whatever form they wish but it is still the dirty old prejudice that America as a nation has struggled with for so long that is at play here.

Because – frankly – where do we go from here?

They said: "Oh no it's not about anti-Arab, it's about foreign control of ports" – OK, What now that the UAE company has withdrawn from the US port deal? Remember that the majority of companies operating facilities at US ports will still be foreign-owned after this (some foreign government-owned). They are from many countries including Singapore, China, and EU. Does the issue just go under the rug now because it was, after all, all about anti-Arab bashing and not at all about foreign-owned port facilities!!!! Will they really issue legislation now banning foreign-owned firms from operating US port facilities – NOT LIKELY. In fact, let me say this: WON’T HAPPEN. So, it is all about prejudice and political opportunism – Not much about real security concerns.

Sonia: Plaisir de te revoir. La politique americaine est tellement complexe et c'est par design ke c'est comme ca. Les fondateurs de la constitution ont voulu fragmenter et compliquer le champs politique pour reduire le risque de tyranie et de dominance politique. Mais, meme ces grands sages comprenaient aussi que les institutions politiques doivent evoluer avec le temps pour que la republique endure.

Meme l'Amerique, comme tu le suggere, a besoin de reformes.

March 09, 2006

 
Blogger thepoetryman said...

Like the aura of your blog...

http://apoeticjustice.blogspot.com/

March 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Nadir said...

Jawad, thank you for the kind words, no need to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog I guess.

Agreed, prejudice is there, always been. I don’t need The Washington Post to tell me that. I deal with it on a daily basis and it only makes me stronger, bolder, a better person. I live here too. The weapons of mass distraction and evil-doers in Washington have no effect on me; I keep my eyes on the ball and even get laid in the process, the name of the game is Money, nobody give a F about ‘principle’. Things don’t go wrong Jawad, they simply happen. “Where do we go from here?” you ask, one can only carry on, the glass is half full. I didn’t miss your point, Martin Luther King, Jr and Black people paid their dues just like the Jewish people did. Arabs/Muslims have to accept that they are and will be the new flavor of ‘Evil’ “The Enemy” “Them” for a while. Do you recall what that old lady said when you told her where you are from … “ well, there’s nothing wrong with that” :chuckle: Life goes on.

All I’m saying is, I’m for ‘the world is flat’ and all that good stuff, but I also know what side I’m on, I careless about UAE Royal family and their deals, ‘they’re more rich than God’ anyway, so there’s no injustice here, just government affairs, politics and money making as far as I’m concerned.

Respectfully,
Nadir

March 11, 2006

 
Blogger Karim said...

Jawad,

You haven't blogged in a while, so I thought I would stop by to say hi. I hope everything is OK. Please let us know.

April 11, 2006

 

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