Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not A Smart Fight

President Bush's insistence that a UAE-based company be allowed to buy control of six major U.S. ports from a UK firm is ludicrous.

For the moment I will put aside whether the company Dubai Ports World is a security risk. Instead I want to focus on Bush's stance. For the first time in his presidency Bush is willing to pull out his veto trigger and force a piece of legislation through Congress. How many other issues have come and gone without the president raising a finger in protest? But this deal, with a company that has personal ties to at least two people in his administration, is considered important enough for him to get personally involved.

With opposition to the deal lining up on both sides of the aisle, Bush is leading himself into a no-win situation. Even if he vetoes the bill Congress is likely to have enough votes to overturn the veto, making him look like a fool. There is a time in every presidents tenure when he has to face the fact that he cannot always have his way. Bush, being the son of an extremely wealthy and powerful family, is not accustomed to being told no, but it is now time he learned to listen and obey what others desire.

What makes this stance an even more serious problem is it comes on the heals of VP Cheney's recent PR disaster. Does the administration really want to be raked over the coals on two issues so close together? Granted, the Cheney situation was blown out of proportion, but the VP could have done a better job getting the word out to the press and dealing immediately with the problem instead of withdrawing behind his castle gate.

Instead of doing everything in his power to put the presidency in its best light, Bush is taking the opposite approach. He is brining on another headache, one that need not be suffered.

Is Dubai Ports World a security risk? Maybe, maybe not, but in a world where we are constantly told by the federal government to be vigilant against terrorism it is hypocritical of it to then turn around and help a company controlled by the UAE government, a nation that supplied two Sept. 11 terrorists, whose banking system was used by al Queda, and whose government officially recognized the immensely repressive Taliban government in Afghanistan.

The company could be totally legit and safe, but by why take a chance and at the same time alienate many of your supporters? The president claimed that the company was properly investigated and comes from a friendly allied nation.

But considering the UAE's past connection with al Queda I think we should think twice before we declare such countries an ally.


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