I find it interesting how selective periods of amnesia and shifting political winds determine who is, or is not, our friends.
Following the announcement by the Bush administration of the sale of the port management by a British Company to a UAE Company of several ports on the east coast and gulf, disapproval by politicians has become very loud.
???..President Bush, who has never, ever vetoed anything in five years ? not campaign-finance ?reform? that shredded core First Amendment protections, not bursting budgets they haven?t built calculators big enough to tally, not a law extending Fifth Amendment protections to alien enemy combatants, etc. ? has somehow decided that this, the great principle of equal-market access for checkered Muslim regimes, is where he draws his line in the sand.
The president is promising to kill any legislation aimed at derailing the deal, so offended is he by the suggestion that, in the middle of a war against jihadists, a tiny Islamic country with a history of terror ties, which lives in an unstable, al Qaeda-friendly neighborhood, maybe, just maybe, might be a smidge less suitable for port management than, say, a private company based in England.
Neither corner of the ring has distinguished itself. In one, leading Democrats and some Republicans are evidently shocked to learn that many of the nation?s ports are managed by foreigners. Indeed, even as they railed against the prospect of this buy-out by UAE?s Dubai Ports World, Inc., they skipped past the inconvenient fact that the seller, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, is a British concern.
Sure as Dean follows Howard, though, understandable concern rapidly degenerated into calculated hysteria from poseurs seeking to claim the high ground from a president against whose measure they stand as national-security Lilliputians. Accelerating the downward spiral, the administration?s initially temperate but unconvincing defense of the transaction devolved just as quickly into nauseating politically correctness.
Naturally, they prefer to cast the issue as one of foreign port-terminal management because they lack the gumption to state that the problem is Islamic participation in what is a gaping soft-spot in our armor. Yet, as usual, such too-clever-by-half cravenness has landed them in a box. Terminals at the ports in question ? like many others in the country ? have long been under the management of non-Americans. Should we expel everyone?
Oh, and guess who now controls several port operations on the West Coast? And has for years? Well, whaddya know? It?s China.
In 1998, the Republican Congress (led by Senator James Inhofe (OK) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA)) had to stop President Clinton from turning over management of a 144-acre terminal at the former U.S. Naval Station in Long Beach to the Chinese Ocean Shipping Company ? a subsidiary of the People?s Liberation Army linked to arms trading to Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Pakistan, Cuba, and even the street gangs of Los Angeles.
In early 2000, during the Clinton administration, the US sold $8 billion worth of F-16s, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, other advanced weapons, and sundry munitions to ? guess who? ? The United Arab Emirates.
So why was it okay in early 2000 to sell lots of stuff that goes boom to a country that apparently today is not even fit to run a port terminal. And why, if the argument is ?foreign? ownership of seaport operations, does the situation on the west coast continue unchallenged.
This UAE transaction needs a long, careful look. It doesn?t need stone-throwing from opportunists who would be better advised to check their own glass houses. And it doesn?t need bully-pulpit demagoguery.
No, I didn?t dream this up, take a look: http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy200602231409.asp