A reader writes:
I don’t see how the US can continue to fund Egypt as this shit goes on, but cutting off aid to Egypt isn’t that simple. The aid to Egypt is basically a bribe to the Egyptian military to make sure Israel doesn’t have to fight a war along its Sinai border. That is how it started, and especially post-Mubarak, is how it has played out. I don’t think that Egypt’s ruling class would invade Israel at the drop of a hat if this bribe is removed, but if the Muslim Brotherhood crowd returns to power, that shit would heat up real fast.
Hence, presumably, the lack-luster Obama stance on the junta now running Egypt. Canceling military exercises is not likely to have any effect on the junta’s murderous contempt for civilian life and democratic processes. Here’s the rationale for such a lame response:
Administration officials fear that suspending that aid could destabilize the region, jeopardize Israel’s security, and would deprive the United States of its only lever to use on the generals. Analysts also say that if the United States withdrew its support, Egypt’s generals would be able to replace it with increased assistance from Saudi Arabia.
I can see these points, but when we have no way to prevent the massacres of yesterday, and when, with continued aid, we become complicit in it, our “only leverage” is no leverage.
The same, of course, can be said of aid to Israel: it has given the US no leverage at all over the continued expansion and entrenchment of Eretz Israel. It has simply made the US complicit in de facto apartheid on the West Bank and any bombs that kill Palestinian civilians. Israel, like Egypt, can live without it. And in my view, we should let them. In the coming epochal violence and shifts in the Muslim Middle East, America’s best policy, it seems to me, is distance.
But of course both aid to Israel and Egypt is also fueled by domestic pork-barrel politics. Another reader explains:
I worked throughout the ’90s for a contractor doing work in Cairo for USAID. Here’s how it worked: the US government gave Egypt $n billion per year. It amounted to roughly the same amount we gave Israel.
There was a difference, however. We said to Israel, “spend it wisely, my friends”. We said to Egypt, “we’ll have to approve how you spend it, and most of it should go to American contracting companies.” So the public finance project that we were working on for the Egyptian Ministry of Finance featured a lot of US-made computers, Jeep Cherokees, and guest lectures by IBM in Egypt and abroad. Doing things this way meant most of the money came back to the USA. It became a shadow pork-barrel operation. If that’s still the way it works, it would explain why Congress has been reluctant so far to defund it.
Oh, and by the way. Israel spends most of theirs on American weapons, so we get that back as well. I think the English invented this system back in their empire days.
Yes, it is an ancient imperial device. But at least Britain also controlled the countries it aided. America today is an empire without any control over its client states – the worst of both worlds.