Yesterday from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush signed into law the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007. Among other things the law authorizes state and local governments to divest assets in companies that conduct business operations in Sudan and prohibits U.S. government contracts with such companies. In a prepared statement the President said:
“I share the deep concern of the Congress over the continued violence in Darfur perpetrated by the Government of Sudan and rebel groups. My Administration will continue its efforts to bring about significant improvements in the conditions in Sudan through sanctions against the Government of Sudan and high level diplomatic engagement and by supporting the deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur.”
“This Act purports to authorize State and local governments to divest from companies doing business in named sectors in Sudan and thus risks being interpreted as insulating from Federal oversight State and local divestment actions that could interfere with implementation of national foreign policy.
“However, as the Constitution vests the exclusive authority to conduct foreign relations with the Federal Government, the executive branch shall construe and enforce this legislation in a manner that does not conflict with that authority.“
I posted a related item on this issue when Congress approved the measure a few weeks ago, Congress Approves Sudan Divestment Legislation, Constitutional Issues? The law’s primary sponsor on Congress was Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.).
As Chairman of the Senate Banking and a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee who chairs the Western Hemisphere Affairs subcommittee, Dodd has championed economic sanctions on Sudan contrary to his long-held opposition to the use of economic sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism such as Cuba. Upon passage in the Senate of his bill Dodd urged President Bush to sign the legislation and added that “by empowering American investors, taxpayers, and pensioners to divest from businesses supporting the murderous Khartoum regime.”
That murderous regime has maintained excellent diplomatic relations with state sponsors of terrorism such as Cuba and the Cuban Communist Party. Who knows, maybe this new law can serve as a model for use with other regions of the world where freedom struggles to take root and where U.S. interests are directly and indirectly challenged. Linking it up with other trouble spots seems to be a natural progression of this policy.