I have a theory as to why President Bush has been so silent on the Dubai Ports deal. As he said in one of the first speeches he gave after the story broke, he’s “trying to conduct diplomacy here”. I’m starting to think that Bush didn’t want to be the one to nix a business deal with the U.A.E. because his relationship with that country will affect our national security and the war on terror. Maybe it’s true that a U.A.E. company shouldn’t be trusted, or maybe it’s not, but it’s a fact that the U.A.E. has been a valuable ally in the war on terror since 9/11, and in the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq. We need their ports, we need their cooperation on intelligence, and we will need the military base we have in the U.A.E. should we have to use the military option against Iran.
Bush could have defended the deal. I’ve heard several news analysts, government officials, and former and present political advisers say that he could have made a convincing case to the American people. The fact that he didn’t even try tells me he’s more concerned about the diplomatic fall out if Dubai Ports is stopped from doing business in the U.S. than he is about the deal going through. That’s understandable. Our war ships are currently using ports in the U.A.E. that are run by Dubai Ports World, and we need to keep using them. If Congress ends the deal and the President at least gave the impression that he tried to save it, perhaps diplomatic efforts will be able to continue uninterrupted and unaffected. He’s got to know that any veto of legislation to stop the deal will likely be over turned by a two thirds vote in Congress. Maybe, he’s counting on that.
Republican congressional leaders told President Bush Thursday the House and Senate both appear ready to block a Dubai-owned company from taking over operations at several U.S. ports, officials said.
The GOP leadership delivered the assessment in a private meeting at virtually the same time White House spokesman Scott McClellan reiterated Bush’s vow to veto any legislation to interfere with the deal.
The developments came one day after a GOP-controlled House committee voted 62-2 to block the transfer, which has prompted an unusual, election-year Republican revolt against the administration.
Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats demanded a vote on the issue, placing Republicans on the political defensive as they tried to prevent the roll call from occurring.
A company spokesman said DP World officials were not present at the discussions between congressional leaders and the White House.
Senate GOP leaders had been hoping to prevent any votes until the conclusion of a 45-day review of the deal. At the same time, administration officials were using the time to try and ease the concerns of lawmakers.
That strategy collapsed in dramatic fashion on Wednesday, when the House committee overwhelmingly signaled its opposition to the deal.
BREAKING NEWS UDATE:
The whole problem may be a mute point, anyway. Fox News is reporting that Dubai Ports has announced it will sell the U.S. piece of deal to another investor.