In my estimation, the case against the transfer is by no means a slam-dunk. There are valid points on both sides of the issue, and many conservative columnists have already corrected some of the misinformation out there fueling opposition to the sale.
Without re-itemizing all those points, let's just remember, in summary, that following the sale, the U.S. government will still be in charge of security at these six ports. And, the UAE has been an important ally in the GWOT. Unless and until we're prepared to declare that we're currently engaged in a full-blown war between civilizations, we better think twice before we summarily reject alliances with certain Arab and Muslim states.
On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical of this deal and to urge that we err on the side of caution in these dangerous times. It is not just xenophobes and bigots who recognize that all of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Muslims, two of which came from the UAE, that Palestinian Muslims danced in the street upon the news of the murders, that terrorist activities in Iraq and elsewhere around the world are overwhelmingly committed by Muslims, and that we see so little condemnation from "moderate" Muslims of suicide bombings and other atrocities repeatedly perpetrated by Islamic terrorists.
And, as others have noted, if Dubai Ports World begins to operate these ports, there might be a greater likelihood that sensitive information about our security operations, especially weaknesses in it, will fall into the hands of our enemies.
I'm not yet completely convinced we should oppose this transfer for security reasons, but I'm confident it raises sufficient red flags that we ought to take more time to scrutinize before finally deciding.
I also believe President Bush should view this incident as a wake-up call alerting him that he needs to better explain, if possible, how his immigration policy coheres with his overall strategy on the war on terror.
That he faces implacable opposition from the incorrigible left is a given, but he owes his supporters and ideological allies substantial clarification on this issue, which should go a long way toward preventing future problems like the one we're witnessing over the ports.