February 25, 2006

Mark Steyn on Port Deal

HH: Now Mark, I know you're a supporter of the ports deal, right?

MS: Well, I wouldn't say I was a supporter. I do think the opposition to it has, with respect to you, Hugh, has slightly gone off the rail. You know, one thing is clear. The United Arab Emirates...for example, if Emirates Airways decided to buy United and Northwest and Delta and TWA, and every other U.S. airline, I would rejoice, because they run a much better airline that any of the U.S. airlines. If the issue is they're an Arab company, well, PNO, who they're buying out, which presently has the rights to this deal, PNO, a British company, actually, more British jihadis have been involved on the wrong side of the War On Terror, in the London Tube bombing, the shoe bombing on a U.S. airplane, Zaq Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, lived on welfare in Britain. There have been British jihadis...there's actually more British involved on the wrong side of the War On Terror, more British subjects, than there are citizens of the United Arab Emirates.

HH: But Mark Steyn, do you think that the penetration of Dubai World Ports would be easier by an al Qaeda sleeper than the penetration of the British company would be?

MS: No, I don't actually think...I don't think it would be easier. I mean, I think there are national security implications for anything. But I certainly don't think that simply a change of ownership from British PNO, which is an illustrious name, admittedly. But I don't think the change from PNO to Dubai is in itself reason to doubt them. And I think at a certain level, we have to say to ourselves well, wait a minute. Are all Muslims bad? Because if even...

HH: Of course not. Right.

MS: If even a company from the United Arab Emirates is unacceptable, then basically what we're saying this is a clash of civilizations. And before I'm prepared to...and I'm as gung ho for that as most people. But before I'm prepared to ban Arab companies from doing business in the United States, I think we should ban Saudi propagandists from funding and running medrasas and think tanks in the United States.

HH: But of course, we're not suggesting, those of us opposed to the port deal, I'm not suggesting banning Arab operations in the United States, just this company in this situation, until and unless it's been thoroughly vetted. That's very different, right?

MS: Yes, I think you're right on that, Hugh. But you know, this is actually the kind of company...when we say to ourselves what's wrong with the Arab world, the problem is it can't cope...it hasn't been able to cope with modernity. Well, actually, Dubai, which is this glittering city, it's like a sort of Hong Kong of the Middle East in some ways, it's this glittering city-state, or a Singapore...it's the closest to Singapore. And if this is exactly the kind of global company you would like to see the Arab world producing, instead of just being mired in jihad. Now do some crazy people from the United Arab Emirates, and from Dubai say crazy things? Yes, they do. But I think you want to be pretty sure that there are real national security implications in the exchange of ownership...

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