With Us or Against Us

So, the Dubai port deal is off.  The firestorm is over.  What began, according to Newsday, at

the moment Chuck Schumer fielded a call from an Associated Press reporter asking New York's senior senator to comment on an obscure plan to rejigger operations at six U.S. ports

has ended with the global best practice port operation company deciding not to invest in operating America's ports.

That could end up being a real lose—lose proposition for the United States.

But it makes complete sense that a Democrat like Schumer should have led the opposition to the port deal.  As a graduate of New York City's Democratic school of politics he seems only to understand its savage culture of ambush accusations, political shakedowns, and unashamed support for rent—seeking special interests.

For the rest of us the question is the security of our ports.  Can we trust a state—owned Arab company like Dubai Ports World (DP World) to operate our port terminals?  It is a question that goes directly to President Bush's challenge immediately after 9/11. 

'Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.'

That is what The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had to
decide: whether  DP World should operate the six port terminals previously owned by foreign interest P&O Ports, based in the home of the British terrorists of 7/7.

That is what neoconservative godfather Norman Podhoretz was writing about in February 2002  Commentary when he called the war on terror: World War IV.  Since at least 1848 the world has been split in two, between the camp that believes in a global commonwealth of contract and trust and the axis of evil that has revolted again and again against it. 

First it was Marx and Engels who led the revolt.  Then it was the Fabians and the Progressives with their rational, factual socialism of compulsory schools and beneficial government programs.  Then it was Adolf Hitler urging a return to blood and lebesraum.  Then it was Stalin and Mao and their noble experiment in egalitarian nation—building.  Now the spirited rich kids of Islam are leading the rebellion of World War IV.

So we ask the question: Is a firm like DP World with us or against us?  Mr.
President, Is It Safe?

Curiously, our American academicians have solved this problem.  They have found why the global movement of contract and trust has won out again and again against the eternal gang of ruthless men.  They have found this out by researching the Prisoner's Dilemma.  You know the setup.  Two prisoners are confined in separate prison cells for questioning.  The dilemma for each of them is: should he rat on the other prisoner or not?  Should he cooperate with the other prisoner or defect and hope for a lenient sentence?

Back in 1984  Robert Axelrod from the University of Michigan announced a competition to devise an iterative strategy for winning the Prisoner's Dilemma.  Against all expectations the winner was a strategy called TIT FOR TAT.  This strategy operated according to a simple rule.  It started out by cooperating with the other prisoner, but thereafter always copied the other's move.  If he cooperated, TIT FOR TAT cooperated back.  If the other prisoner defected, then TIT FOR TAT would defect right back.  If you conduct this iterated strategy on the world, you will find that it creates islands of trust and cooperation that slowly grow and eventually take over the world.

You can beat TIT FOR TAT.  In 2004 a team of students at Southampton University did it using a strategy of collusion between the prisoners, illuminating why we have laws against price fixing and insider trading.

TIT FOR TAT teaches that you should trust people who have demonstrated their trustworthiness.

Not surprisingly the huge international effort to improve the security of the cargo transportation system is working on the trust issue. It involves everyone from port operators to the U.S. government and the U.S. military—industrial complex.  The core of the effort is to extend the borders of trust, to project its frontier way beyond the ports of the United States to the factories in China and East Asia where the goods for the world are produced and loaded into ocean containers.  In this cooperative effort DP World, as a global best practice company in port security operations, is a trusted team member. 

For instance, according to Robert M. Green:

At the recently opened Pusan Newport in South Korea, DP World and tech partner Samsung of Japan worked with the Korean port authority to build a state—of—the—art security port.

Don't expect a veteran New York City pol like Chuck Schumer to care about that.  Opportunistic ambush, betrayal, and fleecing of honest businessmen—that's what New York politics is all about, and always has been.

Christopher Chantrill () blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

So, the Dubai port deal is off.  The firestorm is over.  What began, according to Newsday, at

the moment Chuck Schumer fielded a call from an Associated Press reporter asking New York's senior senator to comment on an obscure plan to rejigger operations at six U.S. ports

has ended with the global best practice port operation company deciding not to invest in operating America's ports.

That could end up being a real lose—lose proposition for the United States.

But it makes complete sense that a Democrat like Schumer should have led the opposition to the port deal.  As a graduate of New York City's Democratic school of politics he seems only to understand its savage culture of ambush accusations, political shakedowns, and unashamed support for rent—seeking special interests.

For the rest of us the question is the security of our ports.  Can we trust a state—owned Arab company like Dubai Ports World (DP World) to operate our port terminals?  It is a question that goes directly to President Bush's challenge immediately after 9/11. 

'Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.'

That is what The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had to
decide: whether  DP World should operate the six port terminals previously owned by foreign interest P&O Ports, based in the home of the British terrorists of 7/7.

That is what neoconservative godfather Norman Podhoretz was writing about in February 2002  Commentary when he called the war on terror: World War IV.  Since at least 1848 the world has been split in two, between the camp that believes in a global commonwealth of contract and trust and the axis of evil that has revolted again and again against it. 

First it was Marx and Engels who led the revolt.  Then it was the Fabians and the Progressives with their rational, factual socialism of compulsory schools and beneficial government programs.  Then it was Adolf Hitler urging a return to blood and lebesraum.  Then it was Stalin and Mao and their noble experiment in egalitarian nation—building.  Now the spirited rich kids of Islam are leading the rebellion of World War IV.

So we ask the question: Is a firm like DP World with us or against us?  Mr.
President, Is It Safe?

Curiously, our American academicians have solved this problem.  They have found why the global movement of contract and trust has won out again and again against the eternal gang of ruthless men.  They have found this out by researching the Prisoner's Dilemma.  You know the setup.  Two prisoners are confined in separate prison cells for questioning.  The dilemma for each of them is: should he rat on the other prisoner or not?  Should he cooperate with the other prisoner or defect and hope for a lenient sentence?

Back in 1984  Robert Axelrod from the University of Michigan announced a competition to devise an iterative strategy for winning the Prisoner's Dilemma.  Against all expectations the winner was a strategy called TIT FOR TAT.  This strategy operated according to a simple rule.  It started out by cooperating with the other prisoner, but thereafter always copied the other's move.  If he cooperated, TIT FOR TAT cooperated back.  If the other prisoner defected, then TIT FOR TAT would defect right back.  If you conduct this iterated strategy on the world, you will find that it creates islands of trust and cooperation that slowly grow and eventually take over the world.

You can beat TIT FOR TAT.  In 2004 a team of students at Southampton University did it using a strategy of collusion between the prisoners, illuminating why we have laws against price fixing and insider trading.

TIT FOR TAT teaches that you should trust people who have demonstrated their trustworthiness.

Not surprisingly the huge international effort to improve the security of the cargo transportation system is working on the trust issue. It involves everyone from port operators to the U.S. government and the U.S. military—industrial complex.  The core of the effort is to extend the borders of trust, to project its frontier way beyond the ports of the United States to the factories in China and East Asia where the goods for the world are produced and loaded into ocean containers.  In this cooperative effort DP World, as a global best practice company in port security operations, is a trusted team member. 

For instance, according to Robert M. Green:

At the recently opened Pusan Newport in South Korea, DP World and tech partner Samsung of Japan worked with the Korean port authority to build a state—of—the—art security port.

Don't expect a veteran New York City pol like Chuck Schumer to care about that.  Opportunistic ambush, betrayal, and fleecing of honest businessmen—that's what New York politics is all about, and always has been.

Christopher Chantrill () blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.