Pace Says Americans Need to Hear All Sides of Issues

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BALTIMORE, March 14, 2006  - Questioning policies or maintaining vigilance is good for America, but not allowing a full discussion of issues is unfair to all concerned, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.

Speaking at the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs, Marine Gen. Peter Pace cited the firestorm of criticism that descended on the decision to allow a company from the United Arab Emirates to take over operations at six American ports. The company, based in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, has since given up that idea.

Questioning policies and government decisions is part of America, Pace said. "What is not healthy for this country is to not have the opportunity for all the voices to be heard," he added.

Pace said the dialogue in regard to the port decision was not complete. The citizens of the United States never "got to absorb the fact that the security of (the ports) is, has been and will always be the responsibility of the U.S. Coast Guard," he said.

Discussing whether or not it is wise to have foreign ownership of companies responsible for port operations is one thing, "but to take a company that is owned by folks from the United Arab Emirates and to make a leap that that would be a threat to our ports without an open dialogue" is something else, Pace said.

Americans did not get a chance to absorb the fact that the United Arab Emirates hosts more U.S. Navy ships than any other non-U.S. port in the world, he said. He said the emirates have done everything the United States has asked them to do in the war on terrorism. "There are things that they are doing that I cannot tell you about from this platform that have enormously helped us," he said.

Pace said the United Arab Emirates was the first country to offer help following Hurricane Katrina, in the form of a $100 million check.

"My point is that somehow before we all rush to a judgment either for or against, we ought to allow ourselves as a nation to have an open dialogue take the time necessary to inform ourselves, and then make a decision about which we can be proud."


Gen. Peter Pace, USMC []

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