Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Congress bad behavior on ports still rankles

Friends in Dubai angry as entry into America is halted
By Andrew Clark, transport correspondent, The Guardian

"Our capabilities, our history, our track record are clear - everyone knows us apart from the Americans. This was our first step into America and unfortunately, we weren't welcome there."

Quote by DP World's chief executive, Mohammed Sharaf

Well move over Mohammed. I'm probably about as frustrated - nay... more frustrated and angry to boot - at our Congress for their ignorance of port industry, stubborness with a refusal to learn more in a 45 day review, and embarrassing, racist knee-jerk reactions over the ports deal that was splashed across int'l media.

DP World will recoup their cash from a new sale, but I'm stuck with these bozos for a lifetime. And we, the American consumer, will be blessed with the residue of their bad judgement and behaviour - piss-poor drafted legislation, increased costs for screening equipment that would have been provided at DP World's expense, and an inevitible higher costs of goods because they run screaming willy-nilly about inspecting 100% of cargo headed to the US.

With such hard-headed, ill-informed elitists in perpetual power in the Congress, it's no wonder the world looks at us askance at every opportunity. We have decades of proven stupidity and arrogance by our lawmakers.

Again, it must be pointed out that the ONLY western democratic country... of which there were many affected with like situations... to complain was the US.

Since 1990, American vessels have been regular visitors to Dubai. A miniature port has developed for their exclusive use, complete with a Pizza Hut, a Burger King and a dry cleaning service to keep sailors' tunics sparkling clean.

Paradoxically, the US staging post is on land provided by Dubai Ports World - the company that has been told it is not welcome in America. DP World's £3.4bn takeover of Britain's P&O went through last month but the United Arab Emirates company has to find a buyer for the six US ports it inherited in the takeover because politicians, among


He is careful to avoid accusing America of racism, preferring to put opposition down to ignorance. "We understand the American peoples' concerns - because they have been misinformed about us. We have lacked the part of the equation which is communicating with the American people." He is particularly angry about remarks that DP World could allow nuclear weapons into America. Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House armed services committee, described Dubai as a "bazaar for terrorist nations" and claimed it was notorious for allowing anonymous cargo to slip through unchecked.

"They say we would allow containers with nuclear weapons to come in," says Mr Sharaf. "How could we allow that? Who sits at the gate of the terminal? It's the [US] coastguard, the homeland security department."


DP World feels it played stringently by the rules and was hard done by in America. Mr Sharaf says: "The first thing that came into our minds when we were looking at P&O was that the US might be an issue. So we went to the US authorities, asked them and got clearance."

He says the company was given a green light by senior homeland security officials - a decision later backed by President George Bush. "It's a lack of information, a lack of understanding," he says of the backlash. "The things that were said simply weren't the reality."

DP World has just been indoctrinated into America's dirty pool politics, as played by the experts who boast decades of experience and bottomless war chests. And for their egotistic power plays, the repercussions on everything from US security and intel to cost iniflation will roll in slowly, but with the power of tsunamis.

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