Egypt: While Chaos Rises, US Debates Suspending Aid
Question: Are we insane as a country? Are we in the West governed by crazy people?
Egypt is on the brink of civil war. Former dictator/President Hosni Mubarak may be freed from prison. That would the same Hosni Mubarak who our own increasingly dictatorial President Obama helped oust from power. Obama did that despite Mubarak's decades of alliance with the United States and peace with Israel, and Egypt's generally responsible behavior during his time in power. What followed Mubarak was the "democratically elected" Muslim Brotherhood government, a government that was turning Egypt into a radical Islamist state despite its promises not to. The Muslim Brotherhood is not and never will be our friend.
No one who knows the Brotherhood's history ever believed that promise. The Brotherhood is the fountainhead of radical Islamist terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hamas.
The Muslim Brotherhood are taking the occasion of the ongoing violence not to demonstrate any tolerance or show Egyptians that they're anything but a terrorist group, but to attack dozens and dozens of Christian churches. Over the weekend they staged a kind of anti-Passover, marking Christian churches with red paint -- painting targets on them. The Brotherhood are also attacking the police and the military.
The Egyptian military is the only real force for civilization and stability in the country. Long term, the military is the only force that stands a chance of keeping Egypt from going full Islamist. It's the one institution that most Egyptians trust, and that can build up the beliefs and institutions that can lead to an Egypt that is capable of transition to becoming a peaceful democratic state over the long haul.
But in this country and in Europe, we're debating whether the military pushing the Brotherhood from power constituted a "coup," and the reason that we're having this debate is because $1.3 billion in aid is at stake. If it was a coup, we have a law requiring the suspension of aid. If it wasn't, then the aid can stay in place. Sens. Lindsay Graham and John McCain are leading the charge to dub Egypt's unrest a "coup." McCain says that the US has no credibility in Egypt now, which is true. Suspending aid would help, how?
Question: Why don't we just shut up and let events play out?
Our aid, first of all, is already out for 2013. That check has been delivered and cashed. Our aid, secondly, is dwarfed by the aid that the Egyptian military is getting from the Saudis and the Gulf states. We've sent $1.3 billion, they've sent about $14 billion. The only thing suspending our aid would do is make us look petty and drive a wedge between the US and Egypt's military -- the only institution that can stabilize the situation and keep the Islamists from returning to power.
The Saudis aren't fools. They're backing Egypt's military because Islamist rule in Egypt threatens their own rule at home. The entire so-called "Arab Spring" threatened to turn much of the Middle East over to Islamist forces.
We are fools. Egypt is a vital country to US interests. It is not ready for elections yet, it lacks the history and institutions and beliefs that it takes to run a functioning democracy.
We're debating this aid when we should just let the military do what it needs to do to keep the Muslim Brotherhood, which is our enemy and the enemy of real freedom and democracy in Egypt, out of power.