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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Another Miers Moment?

Realizing that common sense and common decency alike dictate the futility of appeasement, we shall never try to placate an aggressor by the false and wicked bargain of trading honor for security. Americans, indeed all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, First Inaugural Adress, 1952

When former President Jimmy Carter says your stance is a good one, isn't that reason enough to rethink it?

President George Bush has mulishly announced that he will support a deal to lease our east coast port facilities to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates, and has gone so far as to threaten to
veto any legislation which would overturn the deal. Yet, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has called for a halt to the deal, and Speaker Dennis Hastert has asked for more review. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that the concerns of the legislators were "legitimate". "I'm not against foreign ownership," said Frist, "but my main concern is national security." That is precisely where Sen. Frist is wrong, as is the Administration.

A private British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., runs major commercial operations at in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia. It has recently been acquired by Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates (). UAE and Dubai have been good allies in the Middle East, at least off and on, and Bush is understandably worried about losing face with the seven sheikhs. Yet the control of our ports is something that should remain in the hands of the United States, even if it is more expensive. Porcupine is second to none in his admiration of the United Kingdom, and has an understanding of the 'special relationship' that has served both our countries so well, but this is an opportune time to reexamine whether the sovereignty of our nation should be outsourced to even the best of friends.

Sometimes, Porcupine grows weary of politicians who will run government 'just like a business'. It cannot be done. Government is not a business, it is a public service which is free of the profit motive. Yes, business methods can be introduced into government practices to provide greater efficiency, but government is never going to be as cost effective as the private sector, for the simple reason that it is largely immune from the laws of the marketplace. It cannot go out of business from a bad decision, and the only reward is the status quo for making a good decision. The security of our ports is a governmental matter, not a commercial one.

Much will be said about anti-Arab discrimination, the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, that the Cabinet examined and endorsed this deal, that Dubai is a vital port for our military, that U.S. Customs would still control what gains admittance, that the President should conduct business in the most efficient fashion. None of this is germane to our autonomy as a nation and our national security.

The President has alienated his conservative supporters, much as the Miers nomination did. Porcupine expects this deal to be overturned, and a veto to be overridden if things get that far. Then we need only worry about the fallout of alienating an ally over a matter of first principles, and the potential wrath against our ships and servicemen.

This arrangement should never have been allowed to progress this far.


Blogger Kender said...

This entire mess is a sticky wicket. On one hand we hae the idea that our ports should remain in our hands, under our control. On the other is teh fact that port security has never been out of the hands of our government, so that sounds like a moot point.

If the UAE were to retaliate against us for refusing this transaction, in the way of closing their ports to our military, the accusations against Bush and the GOP as appeasing muslim countries through business transactions would be immediate, lasting and devastating.

Add in the fallout from an attack that was brought about through port facilities run by DWP and the administration would look foolish at best, and like money grubbing conspiritors at worst.

Imagine the fallout against China is an attack is carried out with something brought through ports controlled by them on the west coast, and a picture starts to emerge of the importance of controlling countries doing everything in their power to aid in making ports under their auspices secure.

The new reports that part of the deal was securing the cooperation of the UAE in ongoing investigation into money trails of suspects that lead through their banking system is indicative that the administration is using the leveage of profits to further the interests of American security, something that is tantamount to extortion, i.e. pay me or else I won't help you. That is the ultimate free market in action. Security costs.

However, this new development that the administration has made public, that the UAE will cooperate in investigations, is proof positive that Bush HAD to have known of this deal beforehand.

Either he knew, or others in lower positions are negotiating key aspects of the GWOT without his knowledge, and I find that hard to believe.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Jon Swift said...

Here is the real reason for George Bush's support of the Dubai port deal:

9:30 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

If I'm not mistaken, the ports remain American-owned. Responsibility for the management of the commercial operations is all that gets opened for bid. I suspect that if the loading and unloading of ships were a government responsibility the trade deficit would close nicely and the economy fare poorly.

Do you think Frist has decided that Republican primary voters would be more supportive if he were a man?

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:09 PM  

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