Pardon me for being blunt, but our president is being stupid. He intends to veto a bill for the first time, and he’s choosing to use his first veto to try to kill the bill blocking the sales of operations at 21 American ports (note: that’s 21, not 6, regardless of what Fox News tells you) to the U.A.E.
I’d like to think there’s a good strategic reason for forcing this sale down the throats of an unwilling American public, but for the life of me I can’t see what it is. The fact that investors from the U.A.E. pumped $23 million into Neil Bush’s software company doesn’t make me feel better about the deal.
The only thing I can figure that makes any sense is that the king of Dubai advised President Bush that continued use of Dubai’s port and airfield in any future action against Iran would be permitted only with certain concessions. In addition, the Bush administration is in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement with the UAE, and the emirate is unlikely to take the killing of the ports deal as a friendly move.
Then there is Boeing. The aircraft manufacturer just landed a $9.7 billion sale for 42 Boeing 777 jetliners from the emirate, making Dubai Boeing’s largest 777 customer. The company is currently competing with Airbus to supply as many as 50 new widebody jets to the Emirates Group airline over the next four years.
That’s big money. You can bet that Boeing will put heavy pressure on Congress to uphold the president’s veto.
Still, I hope Congress sticks to its guns on this one. Dubai’s status as a friend of the U.S. in the Middle East is predicated on our business relationships, and the security of American citizens is a secondary concern. It’s become clear that the same is true of the Bush administration.