Since 2006, Congress has sought to condition military aid to Egypt depending on its progress on democracy and human rights, but included a waiver that an administration can use for national security reasons. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice executed the waiver during the Mubarak years, even though the Bush administration had a robust human-rights agenda.
Both Clinton and John F. Kerry, the current secretary of state, have also signed similar waivers, even though Congress demanded that the secretary of state certify that Egypt was maintaining the peace treaty with Israel and “supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion, and due process of law.”
Kerry’s waiver, signed in May, was done so quietly it was not even announced. Human rights groups have denounced the waivers as undermining support for democracy in Egypt.
In other words, Congress handed possible leverage to the administration, and the Obama administration has declined to use it.
Hope and change!
Forward! To Syria!
It must be nice to be rich!
Now, for probably the first time in more than thirty years, the U.S. says its actually reviewing its military aid to Egypt (it set conditions before, but the aid’s always eventually come) based on a rule requiring suspension of aid following a military coup (except when that doesn’t suit Washington’s interest, like in Honduras). The U.S. government is highly likely to decide the coup in Egypt wasn’t really a coup and find a way to keep the aid flowing. Even though Egyptians on the street appeared to blame the Obama Administration for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood government, much of the U.S. aid during Morsi’s rule continued to go to the military. And that’s the problem.
As Shikha Dalmia rightly noted last summer, U.S. military aid to Egypt has contributed a lot to the dire economic situation in Egypt because it’s allowed the military to secure and maintain a stranglehold on the Egyptian economy. Economic woes played a large part in the series of Mubarak era food riots and protests that eventually led to his ouster, and were a major factor in the current round of protests. As I wrote earlier this week, so long as Egyptians (or any protesters) expect more government intervention to fix the economic problems caused by government intervention there isn’t going to be a happy ending. The U.S. cutting military aid, then, might do more to set Egypt on a path to stability than any amount of U.S. military aid would.
Thank goodness we have a War President who is on top of all this. Not to mention a crack foreign affairs team. But hey, at least we know who American citizens are calling, texting, and emailing (unless you happen to be an American Ambassador in Benghazi…).
Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.