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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

We are facing some very difficult decisions in America these days. The attacks of 9/11 are forcing us to choose up sides in the war for our freedoms and liberties, forcing us to commit to whether we will become more open-minded about who we trust, or cause us to shut down our free spirited way of living.

There are three major events occurring right now, that for me, crystallize the depths and difficulties of this topic.

The first is probably the most difficult in terms of people's willingness to talk openly about their feelings. It is this: when I see Shiites and Sunnis killing each other, blowing up mosques and killing and maiming their own women and children, I have to wonder whether these kinds of barbaric acts can ever be replaced by the concepts of freedom as we know them and practice them here in the U.S.

The potential of all-out civil war in Iraq, after so many Americans and Iraqis have died trying to turn the place around, is tragic and downright disappointing. What have we achieved if we lose it all to the roving bands of armed thugs posing as religious soldiers? As the father, father-in-law, and uncle of three young men who have served this country, including stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, I just can't grasp the futility of what we are seeing happen.

Is it a clash of cultures at fault here or a total inability of cultures to find common ground? I have never been shy to say I'm a Republican or in the case of both Afghanistan and Iraq, support the mission of our troops there. My Air Force Special Operations Son will forever carry a reminder of his service overseas with a reconstructed ankle, thanks to the miracles of modern American medicine.

But even that, I think, is indicative of how different we are as a people, as compared to others around the world. I know I say this at the risk of being called elitist or claiming that Americans are superior to other people. Trust me, as a Latino who was born dirt poor and has suffered the indignities of racism at certain points in my life, I'm the last guy in the world to say our country is perfect.

Yet, we have such a different standard of living and live under such advanced standards and expectations of how we can improve ourselves, our children, and our surroundings, that I find myself retracing old ground on whether we can ever turn barbarians into productive and caring people. Can we ever take the concept of religious freedom and use it to end thousands of years of holocausts in the Middle East? Can we take the mantra of freedom of speech and conquer the extremists who repress the poor, illiterate, and girls and women, "just because"?

Are we wrong and wasting our time to think that we can offer freedom to girls seeking an education in some of these Muslim-controlled countries? I know we can't paint all Muslims with the brush of evil, but it's the religious demons everywhere, of all faiths, that kill and torture in the name of their higher power. Are we on the wrong track (in two other areas I'm about to pursue) in allowing an Arab nation to operate some of our ports and make major changes in our privacy laws in the name of finding the enemy among us at the risk of finding out we're our own worst enemy?

We have only begun to hear the discourse about the United Arab Emirates company that has been primed to take over most operations at six U.S. ports, leading to massive criticism from the public and skeptical lawmakers who fear the deal poses major security risks.

There's no question that we should be concerned because of concerns over the UAE's purported ties to terrorism. After all, two of the 9/11 highjackers were from the UAE.
Dubai Ports World, owned by that Middle Eastern government, has extensive experience in running port operations around the world. Obviously, we're a bit touchy about having a country of dark-faced people in charge of our strategic economic and safety interests in Baltimore, New Orleans, New York, Miami, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.

However, in forming your opinion on this sensitive case, did you know that this not just a deal for U.S. ports, but is massively international in scope? The proposed U.S. operations affected by the deal account for roughly 10 percent of the deal's overall value, considering that DPW's purchase of London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. covers 30 terminals in 18 countries, ferries and properties.

If you knew that weeks before Dubai Ports World sought U.S. approval for the deal, the UAE contributed $100 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, would that influence your decision to support or oppose this deal?
The White House says it wouldn't be going forward if it weren't certain that our ports will be secure. On Capitol Hill, administration officials who approved the transaction told the Senate Armed Services Committee that their 90-day review did not turn up a single national security concern to justify blocking it and they said no one raised an issue that would have prompted the need for a further, 45day investigation. Nobody - not your Congressman, your Senator - no one!

And the White House's Homeland Security adviser, Frances Fragos Townsend, says the UAE's cooperation in the fight against terrorism has changed significantly since 2001. Townsend says the UAE has been a critical ally in Afghanistan, in fighting the financial war against terror, and in terms of our military-to-military relationship.

Look, I am as much of an alarmist as the next guy. But it is clear to me that the issue is not really about a company being from an Arab region. I'm concerned that our enemies could just as easily infiltrate a British firm, a German company, or anything involving those damned snooty French traitors. Worse, I fear that the enemy could be living among us, including American citizens.

There has been a lot of concern recently about domestic spying, the Patriot Act and its renewal, snooping and eavesdropping on our telephones and our Internet searching. Let us not forget, however, that the suspects in the bombings of the London subway system were Brits. Yes, they were first and second-generation Brits, but they were home-grown troublemakers and malcontents.

That's why I don't have a problem with the border-line, edgy civil rights snooping we're doing in the name of national security. Of course there's always a chance of someone in government abusing the authority we give them and even worse, someone being falsely imprisoned as a result.

However, is that price worth the potential loss of some hopefully short-term privacy in the long-term hopes of keeping all of us safer and catching the bad guys? I think it is, although I don't consider it a slam dunk.

After all, just look at the nut-cakes killing each other in Iraq, and that's their own flesh and blood. They could care less about us, and that's why our current over-reach into protecting our national security is currently okay with me. And the Arab company running six East Coast ports is okay because at least we'll take extra precautions in watching their operations and the people they hire.

Let's not forget that we no longer have a United States-based shipping fleet. ALL ships are foreigners and they come not just from Arab nations, but also from Indonesia, Africa, and even the Philippines, where AL Qaeda has strong support and where terrorists abound.

Maybe we should be having a national dialogue about setting some basic standards of security here in the U.S. before we start blabbing about the dangers of a foreign company running six ports here. The stark truth is that there is NO current national standard for what security should be at our ports.

As shocking as that may be for you, we have not been able to agree in the almost five years since 9/11 on how to properly identify and classify the longshoremen, truckers, shippers, and others who operate at our ports and load and unload the millions of containers from the ships. And they're our own people.

Perhaps we should fall back to that old standard that security begins at home, and once we have moved in some positive direction there, we can bitch and moan about whether to allow foreigners to run our ports. And maybe by then, we'll have a better handle on whether those foreigners we're trying to Americanize overseas will ever stop killing each other long enough to savor what we treasure here at home, and why we have spilled the blood of our young men and women trying to save these barbarians from themselves.