The current controversy over U.S. foreign aid to Egypt highlights perfectly the moral bankruptcy of U.S. foreign policy and what such a policy has done to our nation.
For the past three decades, the U.S. government has been funneling billions of dollars to the military dictatorship in Egypt.
Notice the operative word in that sentence: dictatorship.
Why is that word important?
Because dictatorship equals tyranny. There is simply no way around it. A dictatorship is a tyrannical regime, one that oppresses its own citizenry, oftentimes brutally.
The fact that this particular dictatorship is a military dictatorship makes the situation even worse. Military dictatorships are renowned for their brutality, tyranny, and oppression, always under the guise of maintaining “order and stability” within the nation.
Some thirty years ago, the military dictatorship in Egypt declared a state of emergency, owing to the terrorist assassination of Egypt’s president. As with all such emergencies, it was supposed to be temporary. As part of the emergency, the military dictatorship assumed extraordinary powers, including the authority to arrest and incarcerate people without due process of law or trial, torture them, and execute them.
Today, those tyrannical powers are still in existence. In fact, the military dictatorship’s exercise of such powers for the past 30 years is one of the reasons that Egyptian citizens finally took to the streets in revolution.
The military dictatorship was obviously hoping that by offering up Egypt’s longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, the people would be satisfied. That would leave the military dictatorship in place and in continued control of the country.
In fact, the military has made it clear to the Egyptian people that it has absolutely no intention of relinquishing power. It is permitting the Egyptian people to establish a democratic system but only with the understanding that that the military, not the democratically elected officials, will ultimately in charge.
For the last 30 years, it has been the U.S. government, with monies extracted from the American taxpayers through the IRS, that has been helping to maintain this dictatorial regime. The discomforting truth is that the tyranny under which the Egyptian people have long suffered has been maintained, supported, and embraced by the U.S. government.
And it cannot be said that such support has come reluctantly. On the contrary, the militaries of both countries have worked arm in arm to maintain the dictatorship’s hold on power. The Pentagon has helped train military personnel of the dictatorship and, again, the U.S. government has funneled tens of billions of dollars in cash and weaponry into the regime, all of which has helped the dictatorship to continue its brutal control over and oppression of the Egyptian people.
In fact, don’t forget that when the CIA kidnapped a suspected terrorist in Italy, it renditioned the man to Egypt to be tortured, not only because the Egyptian military dictatorship is one of the U.S. government’s partners in its “war on terrorism” but also because U.S. officials have to be thoroughly familiar with Egyptian military’s skill at extracting information from people through torture.
Of course, through it all, neither Egyptian officials nor U.S. officials have viewed the dictatorship’s actions as tyrannical. On the contrary, in the eyes of the Egyptian national-security state and the U.S. national-security state, the Egyptian dictatorship has been doing nothing more than maintaining “order and stability” and protecting the nation from the “terrorists,” in partnership with the U.S. national-security state.
Recently the annual payment of $1.3 billion (with a “b”) in U.S. foreign aid to the Egyptian dictatorship was coming due. The problem is that in order to make the payment, the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is required by law to certify that the recipient of the aid isn’t infringing on human rights and freedom.
However, the law has an escape clause. The secretary of state can issue a waiver of the requirement, enabling the foreign aid to flow into Egypt without making the required certification.
There were some people within the government opposing the waiver owing to Egypt’s current prosecution of several foreign organizations for engaging in “pro-democracy” political activity without the legally required government registration. Apparently, that’s the only reason they’re objecting — not because the money is going to fund a tyrannical military dictatorship.
However, in the end Clinton decided to issue the waiver.
Why did she do that?
One reason is that the Egyptian regime, having been threatened with a cutoff of the aid, decided to release the American defendants charged in the non-registration criminal proceedings.
But there is another fascinating aspect of this tale of horror. It turns out that the Egyptian military supposedly lacked the funds to pay American arms suppliers for the weaponry they had agreed to purchase from them. They said they needed the $1.3 billion to make the payments under their weapons contracts. A default in those contracts would require the companies to lay off workers, which obviously would not be a good thing in an election year in which Clinton’s boss, President Obama, is running for reelection on the basis that he would be a better job-creator-in-chief than his Republican opponent.
To confirm their longstanding support of the Egyptian regime, Victoria Nuland, the State Department’s spokesman, was quoted in a March 23, 2012, New York Times article: “The secretary’s decision to waive is also designed to demonstrate our strong support for Egypt’s enduring role as a security partner and leader in promoting regional stability and peace.”
Do you see what I mean? Do you see anything in that statement that would demonstrate a reluctance to fund a tyrannical military dictatorship or a regret for having funded a brutal dictatorship for decades? Do you even see an acknowledgement that this is a brutal, tyrannical military dictatorship that is being funded?
No. Again, the national-security state in both countries view all of this not as tyranny but instead as a means to maintain “order and stability and to protect the nation from the “terrorists.”
As the Times article points out, there was a pressing deadline — the money that needed to pay international arms sellers like Lockheed Martin: “A looming deadline for payments, however, forced the issue before then, and the White House and Pentagon pressed for a waiver, officials said. A White House spokesman referred questions to the State Department, and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment.”
What was Lockheed Martin’s role in all this? It is supplying warplanes and military tanks to the Egyptian military dictatorship and getting paid for it with the foreign aid that now will be sent to Egypt. As Laura F. Siebert, a company spokeswoman put it, “Lockheed Martin values the relationship established between our company and the Egyptian customer since the first F-16s were delivered in the early 1980s.”
“Customer”? That’s quite a “customer.” Never mind that the “customer” is a brutal, tyrannical, military dictatorship. And never mind that the warplanes and tanks being delivered to this “customer” enable the “customer” to maintain its tyrannical hold over the Egyptian citizenry. It’s obvious that Lockheed Martin sees things just as U.S. officials do — that the Egyptian and U.S. governments are just good partners who are maintaining “order and stability” and protecting Egypt and the United States from the “terrorists.”
Another fascinating and revealing aspect of this entire phenomenon is how the U.S. military-industrial complex has divided up the manufacture of the component parts of the military tanks that are being delivered to the Egyptian military dictatorship. According to the Times, “The M1A1 components are built in factories in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, several of them battleground states in an election that has largely focused on jobs.” Obviously, that gives people in more states a greater financial stake in the outcome.
Make no mistake about it: If Egyptian citizens ever retaliate for the U.S. government’s role in their oppression, U.S. officials will simply respond with, “They just hate us for our freedom and values.”
That’s what passes for freedom and values in today’s America.