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U.S. Complicit with Palestinian Authority Budgeting Mischief

Egypt is itself dependent on foreign aid. The country imports 40% of its food and 60% of its wheat, and has to pay in real money. Egyptian foreign currency reserves have dwindled, as tourism -- the chief hard currency earner -- has all but dried up since the revolution. According to Bloomberg, Egypt’s net official reserves stand at about $15.7 billion: somewhat more than had been predicted, but $640 million less than last month. Still, the relatively good news may help Egypt engineer a $3.2 billion IMF loan. The Obama administration is planning to turn over $1.5 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic assistance over the objection of Congress. Secretary of State Clinton has ordered a waiver of Congressional restrictions on the aid, most of which will go to U.S. defense contractors to meet military contract payments.

There are two patterns here: one ours, one theirs.

The U.S. gives American tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority over the objection of Congress, and the PA sends some of the money to Hamas security forces in Gaza, violating U.S. restrictions on aid. And the U.S. gives Egypt aid weighted heavily toward military assistance over the objection of Congress. In both cases, the U.S. goal is to maintain diplomatic leverage with important but difficult governments.

The objects of our interest, however, have interests of their own.

For the Palestinians and the Egyptians -- more so the Palestinians, who have always “relied on the kindness of strangers” and have never had a functional economy -- the goal of government is to find as much money as possible with as few strings attached as possible to remain in power. As long as possible.

The possibilities for mischief are endless.

[1] By way of comparison, Vermont -- last on the list of U.S. states -- generated about $26 billion.