Caught in The Act
What’s worse? Being caught with your pants down, or letting them down in the first place? This is the situation in which the United States finds itself as the drama of the Egyptian revolution unfolds.
We have supported Hosni Mubarak and his repressive government for the past 30 years, as he has enriched himself, possibly to the tune of tens of billions of dollars sequestered in foreign countries.
We, a country founded on human rights, the rights of individuals to pursue their own life choices, have spent a lot of years in bed with autocrats. We’ve offered many excuses for this, mostly along the line of maintaining regional stability, sometimes protection of our own national security, and certainly, at times, for financial gain.
From the Russian Czars in World War I, to Josef Stalin in World War II, to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, to Ferdinand Marcos, of the Philippines, to King Abdullah, of Saudi Arabia and his predecessors, we have demonstrated remarkable readiness to compromise the principles of our nation for gain.
Sometimes, it’s worked out for us. Sometimes it hasn’t. For a long time, we had military bases in the Philippines. Then that tiny, arrogant thief, Ferdinand Marcos, threw us out, and we had to move our operations to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Iran, things went really badly. Not only did we support the Shah, we re-installed him into power in 1953, training his secret police unit SAVAK, who enthusiastically assisted with his repression of his people. The people there don’t like us much, needless to say.
In Egypt, we are more fortunate. We did not install President Mubarak, and the Egyptian people don’t hate us. Fortunately also, they are a bright, well-educated people, diverse and, often, sophisticated. Haunting is the recent photo of a middle aged male demonstrator holding a large sign that read, “America, we hate your hypocracy.”
I must applaud President Barack Obama for his deliberate response to the Egyptian revolution. He, in the face of America being caught supporting the bad guy yet again, took his time, and stood for the rights of the people to have their say, and to have their rights upheld.
It is a sad thing to repeatedly support leaders later overthrown by their own people for their brutality.
In his State of the Union address, in speaking about the U.S. budget, President Obama completely failed to mention foreign aid when talking about cuts. Republicans, in listing their suggested cuts, are not mentioning it either. We can cut funding to little old ladies who can’t pay their oil bills, but must continue to unconditionally fund the military of developed countries like Egypt and Israel, who buy their weapons from U. S. military suppliers, or from our large defense contractors. This must stop, now.
Our annual budget totals approximately $3.5 trillion, and $50 billion was pledged to foreign aid by President Obama in 2010.
If you look at general pie charts of the U.S. budget, foreign aid doesn’t even show. Per the 2010 budget request, the top 10 recipients were Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, West Bank and Gaza, Kenya, Mexico, Iraq and Ethiopia.
The vast majority of the aid is military and, in Egypt and Israel, is unconditional in regard to human rights violations, although George Bush and Dwight Eisenhower both tried to make it conditional in Egypt. The poorest countries in the world receive the least aid. Recipients of our aid, more often than not, vote against us in the United Nations. What happens is that we make deals, for example with Egypt, that they don’t attack Israel.
One solution, proposed by Sen. John McCain (R., AZ) would be to create an alliance of democracies, and thus present a united front to the autocratic world. What would happen if all the democracies of the world united to buy oil from the Middle East? Do you think they wouldn’t sell? What if those who nominally support human rights actually behaved in a principled fashion?
Let the Egyptian revolution and the current unrest among the real people of the Middle East teach us a lesson. We don’t have to spend our people’s money supporting tyrants.