Another Miers Moment?
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 ports in Baltimore, Miami, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York and Philadelphia. It has recently been acquired by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 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.