by RAY FLEMING l PRESIDENT George W Bush does not get much in the way of praise in this space, so let's recognise immediately that the position he has taken over the planned take-over of the leases of several major American ports by Dubai Ports World is absolutely right and rather admirable. At the moment the ports in question are partly run by the British company P&O which is on the point of being bought by Dubai Ports World. US opponents of this change fear that involvement of an “Arab” company would pose a security risk and quote criticism by the 9/11 Commission that “the vast majority of the money funding the September 11 attacks” flowed through the United Arab Emirates of which Dubai is a member. Mr Bush has said in no uncertain terms that the deal is above board, that he supports it and that if its critics in Congress pass a Bill to stop it, as they have threatened to do, he would veto that Bill. The growth of globalisation inevitably raises questions about the ownership of organisations and companies of national importance by foreign operators. The Spanish company Ferrovial is thought to be considering a bid for the British Airports Authority. Should the British government try to prevent such a take-over of a key operator in the nation's transport infrastructure? The answer is that interfering with the natural flow of international investment and development is counter-productive unless exceptional security issues are directly and clearly involved. The security of the American ports likely to be taken-over by Dubai Ports World as managers is in the hands of the US Coast Guard and Customs and will remain so. Most informed observers seem to think that any threat is more likely to come from the lack of investment by the US government in security equipment than from a change of management. For instance, only four or five per cent of the millions of containers that pass through these ports are inspected at the moment. Several of the critics of the Dubai Ports World deal have a political agenda, Senator Hillary Clinton among them, and President Bush is right to tell them to back-off from what is essentially a matter of international finance.