Larry Kudlow
As the review period intensifies over plans for Dubai Ports World to take over some operations at six U.S. ports, President Bush is facing an uphill battle to get the deal through. Congressional opposition is widespread and a number of polls say the American public is largely against it. Unfortunately, conservatives are badly split on the issue. Commentators like Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Jack Kemp, and myself are in favor of the deal, while others like Bill Bennett, Michelle Malkin, and Pat Buchanan are very much opposed.

From my standpoint, taking into account all the editorializing, talk-show tempests, and political sound bites of recent weeks, I have yet to see any real evidence that the deal will compromise U.S. national security. Objections raised by the Coast Guard have been resolved, and the fact stubbornly remains that along with U.S. Customs and Homeland Security, it is the Coast Guard, not DP World, that will ultimately run the show when it comes to protecting port operations. If additional screening and surveillance safeguards need to be built into the deal, including radiation tests, so be it.

U.S. Coast Guard (Ret.) Captain John Holmes, who headed ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, on 9/11, made the point to me that the same longshoreman and stevedores now employed at U.S. ports will continue to unload cargoes, although a thoroughgoing check of all personnel credentials is essential. He also reminded that U.S. companies have been out of the port management business for some time; this is a foreign-run function and will remain so.

Meanwhile, some conservative critics have latched on to the sixty-year-old Arab League boycott of Israel. But this is more rhetoric than reality. State-owned DP World operates out of the United Arab Emirates, but the UAE is a member of the World Trade Organization and is negotiating a free-trade deal with the United States. More, DP World does huge business with Israel’s largest shipping line, Zim Integrated Shipping. Zim’s chairman, Idan Ofer, defended DP World in a Wall Street Journal story, expressing his “complete dismay at the way [DP] is being pilloried in the United States.”

Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Kudlow is host of CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” which airs nightly from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.