Port controversy is misplaced


As a U student currently serving an internship in Washington, D.C., recent developments in the news have caught my attention.

The major story that has been circulating around Washington has been the U.S. port purchase by the United Arab Emirates-owned company Dubai Ports World.

We at the Hill have been receiving very angry complaints over this deal by many of our Utah constituents. This frenzy is also being fed by many members of Congress who have fervently attacked the very notion of this deal going through.

The concern that I have is that our country may be sending a very mixed message to the Arab world with the amount of outrage that is surrounding this purchase. First of all, many people seemed to be surprised at the very notion that our ports could be managed by foreign companies.

In fact, according to The New York Times, 80 percent of U.S. ports are managed by foreign-owned operators. In addition, only between 3 and 5 percent of cargo coming into America is inspected at all, regardless of who owns the company. Finally, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security would still be in charge of security, regardless of who is managing operations.

That being said, why haven’t we seen any outrage in the past with regard to our port security? Nobody knew or cared what was going on until they heard the name of an Arab country being involved. What kind of message does this send to the Arab world?

The main concern should be directed at the fact that only up to 5 percent of our cargo is inspected at all. If we don’t allow a country who has been relatively friendly to the United States and helpful in our efforts in Iraq, and who is also willing to play by the rules with regard to this deal, we are telling them that no matter what you do, you can never be fully accepted into the global economy simply because you are from the Middle East.

We must remember that not all terrorists live in the Middle East, nor is the Middle East full of terrorists. It is important that if our country is serious about making strides in our public relations with the Arab world that we do not apply double standards. If we are trying to win a P.R. war in the Arab world, blocking this sale will be a major step back.

Andrew Bennion?Senior, Political Science/ International Studies