Overreacting to the Ports deal Posted by: McQ
on Thursday, March 16, 2006
Anne Applebaum makes the point that if Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Republicans like Duncan Hunter are really serious about protecting our "critical infrastructure" from being owned by foreigners, they have an impossible task. First it seem no one can define what constitutes "critical infrastructure". Secondly, it would be a horrible economic mistake. And it goes without saying it would further erode our standing as a reliable trading partner with the rest of the world.
Some examples from Applebaum, the product of a very cursory search:
· The sanitation system of Laredo, Tex. Along with plants in more than a dozen other U.S. cities, the wastewater treatment plant in this critical border city is managed by Suez, a French firm. Suez — which also owns a liquefied natural gas "port operation" in Massachusetts and makes regular gas deliveries at ports in Maryland and Louisiana — is negotiating a merger with a state-owned company, Gaz de France. Thus will the government of France — one of whose citizens, Zacarias Moussaoui, is on trial for terrorism in a U.S. court — be in a position to poison Texans' water, interfere with border control and blow up gas terminals, too.
· The highways of Indiana. With great fanfare, the Indiana authorities earlier this year announced that a Spanish company and an Australian firm would jointly manage the state's main toll road. The two firms will also complete the unfinished "Hoosier highway" — presumably giving them access to all kinds of information about bridge and tunnel vulnerabilities. Spain, like Dubai, is a country that harbored terrorists, in advance of the Madrid bombings.
· The refineries of Toledo, Texas City, Tex., and Carson, Calif., among others. All are owned by British Petroleum, a British company based in London. But even if all were sold to U.S. companies, BP would still own some $41 billion worth of fixed assets in the United States and would still be the largest marketer of natural gas liquids in North America and one of the largest distributors of gasoline as well. Britain, also like Dubai, has harbored terrorists: the London bombers, the shoe bomber, the IRA.
· The pilots, tugs and dockworkers of New York, New Jersey and San Francisco, along with a dozen other U.S. ports. They all work for a company, Inchcape Shipping Services, that has a contract with the U.S. Navy. The company used to be British and was sold for $285 million in January to — the royal family of Dubai. Need I say more?
Get the picture? Now you may be flush with victory over seeing the DPW deal destroyed. But before we rush headlong into dancing the terrorist's dance (don't forget that one of their main intentions on 9.11 was to try to destroy us economically), let's all sit back and take a breath and resist the call for further shackling ourselves economically.
I can’t help but be reminded of the over-reaction that occurred back in the late 1980s, after the Plaza Accords, when the Japanese started buying hunks of US real estate, including Rockefeller Center and (iirc) Pebble Beach country-club, as well as major hotels on Waikiki.
Everyone was all in a flutter over where Americans would live in the future, and whether we weren’t going to become virtual serfs to the Japanese.
Even then, the biggest investors in the US (about whom we heard nary a peep) were the Brits and the Dutch.
I have to wonder why Japanese, Chinese, and Arab investors spark such outcries, but European ones do not.....
No Lurking Observer, you are NOT allowed to bring that up, because you’re accusing you’re opponents of RACISM!!! Even if they ARE, you’re not supposed to mention it...though to be calmer and more fair, the UAE deal was less about race and more about I don’t know, ethnicity/religion...did we want a nation from the Mid-East to control the ports? If Britain had spawned Usama we might have been uneasy about Canada running our ports, due to the close ties between Canada and Britain. Still your point about the Japanese and the UAE is a good one, know no one notices the WHITE foreigners, but we sure get jumpy about the Brown and Yellow ones....
Let me be on record, I wanted to make sure there was due diligence in the review process, but saw nothing on the surface that caused me great concern with the DPW deal.
I think that the more economic ties we have through out the world, the more the world will work for our collective security.
And I agree with the premise of the article. If we are to relegate "national security" to only American owned and operated companies, the list and financial impact is going to grow, and the Federal oversight exponentially grow.
No, England didn’t spawn Usama, but they did spawn this guy
Foreigners fly big jumbo jets (cargo and passenger) into this country everyday. Each one is a potential missle.
A nuke doesn’t have to be off-loaded to wreck the use of a port.
Thousands of people cross out borders every day without any checks what-so-ever.
Drugs are smuggled into the country on a continual basis.
I have to believe that terrorists, and foreign governments know our vulnerabilities at least as well as we know them.