The Economist on Xenophobia creeping into American politics:
...Last year, Congress saw off the yellow peril from China, whose CNOOC oil company dared to bid for America's Unocal (though most of Unocal's oil and gas reserves happened to be outside America). Now it is the Arabs—for which read terrorists—who are threatening to imperil America's national security by taking over some of its ports...
But will letting DP World operate there really make a material difference to that risk? Nobody denies that Dubai, though pro-western, is a notoriously porous place, with blind eyes reputedly turned to shipments of drugs and arms. A.Q. Khan's Pakistani nuclear-smuggling network, for instance, was hidden behind a Dubai front. But that does not mean DP World is unfit. It is a globally respected firm with an American chief operating officer, Ted Bilkey, and an American-educated chairman. When Mr Bush nominated an American manager from DP World to a ports post in the Department of Transport last month, nobody objected (though they are complaining now). The company will not own the American ports and it has no incentive to run them badly. Just as under P&O, American coast guards, customs and immigration people will remain fully responsible for security.
The United Arab Emirates is a member of America's Container Security Initiative, which allows American customs officials to inspect cargo in foreign ports before it leaves for America. The employees will continue to be unionised (and presumably patriotic) American citizens. Any Arab employees whom DP World ships in will be subject to American visa approval, no easy matter nowadays.
Alas, America's politicians seem to be in no mood to discuss this issue rationally. So much easier, and more popular, to base policy on the prejudice that every Arab is a potential terrorist.
From the Economist's Print edition (23 February).