A lot of excitement has been generated in the last couple of days over the issue of a Dubai-based company, Dubai Ports World buying a British company, P&O Steam Navigation, which manages six US ports. My first instinct was NO FREAKING WAY! After all, how can it be safe to allow an Arab company to be in charge of US ports?
But things aren't as they appear at first glance. After all, 30% of US ports are run by foreign companies. Which raises the question - if there are security concerns, why allow any foreign company to run our ports? The UAE is actually a valuable ally in the War on Terror. Add in the fact that the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies thoroughly vetted the deal, and the US actually has been having a working relationship with DP World for a while now, like Asst Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs, Clay Lowery pointed out on the Newshour on PBS (port security often starts outside the borders of the US).
There is one more dimension to this - the meaninglessness of nationality. The same day the ports issue generated an uproar, three US citizens were arrested for links to al Qaeeda.Terrorists can always recruit mercenaries - case in point, Jose Padilla, not Arab, not Muslim. If we rely on the conscience of "our" people in the war on terror, we're inviting another attack! Thankfully, port security continues to be firmly in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security rather than in those of a company whose only qualifications are its nationality.