Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some Straight Talk on the Dubai Ports Deal

I haven't mentioned much about the national level lately because I've been so consumed with state and local politics.

But this article by Robert Reich on the Dubai Ports deal is well worth the read.

In what will perhaps be surprising to some conservatives, Reich defends the Bush administration's decision to allow the Arab company to take over the contracts for some of our ports.

Reich starts off by arguing that despite the foreign ownership, the ports will still be managed, controlled, and protected by Americans. Plus, there are some American citizens working in top executive positions with Dubai, including the company's current chief operating officer.

Reich's central point is that the idea of "ownership" in today's global marketplace is neither monolithic nor all-consuming--hence, a foreign company "owning" the contracts to some American ports is nothing to get too excited over.

But it's Reich's conclusion that really makes the article a notable one. It reads:

"I don’t mean to minimize the real danger that a terrorist might sneak into an American port or plant a nuclear bomb in a container heading toward an American port, or a container mounted on a truck that crosses an American border headed for Kansas City.

But if that happens, it won’t be because of the nationality of the company that has a contract to run a port, or of its managers, or even its workers on the ground.

It will be because this nation didn’t want to pay for the gamma-ray monitors and radiation scanners and inspectors necessary to oversee more than a tiny percent of containers heading into America. Because we didn’t want to bother with security checks and special ID cards with fingerprints and other biometrics for workers at all ports and border crossings. Because all of this would cost about $7 billion a year, out of a defense and homeland security budget of hundreds of billions, and might slow down commerce through our borders just a bit, and reduce some corporate profits.

You see, the real issue here isn’t about nationality. It’s about what we’re prepared to pay for our security, and whether we pay mostly for a war in Iraq or we finally get serious about security here at home."


Blogger Sam Reich said...

You may be interested in Robert Reich's new personal blog: www.robertreich.blogspot.com.

April 07, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Thanks for the info. I didn't know he started one. I'll start to check it out.

April 09, 2006  

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