We’ve all seen the famous photo of the Egyptian Sphinx with its missing nose. I learned as a child that the nose of the Sphinx was shot off by Napoleon’s Army using it for target practice when they invaded Egypt in the early 1800′s. It’s an historical fact. A bit of trivia I’ve carried around in my mental Rolodex for decades.
It’s also not true.
And so it goes in politics, just when you are SURE that the two Parties are hopelessly split by ideology, something happens to surprise you. For me, that surprise was the support of many in the GOP of President Obama’s reluctance to cut off financial aid to Egypt. And when I find myself agreeing with the likes of Bill Kristol and Sen. Bob Corker, my first instinct is to question my own thinking.
[T]here still are things within Egypt that are very much in our national interest. And we need to keep the lines of communication open. … I think, [not] a suspension but a recalibration.” – Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).
“What better thing is going to happen in Egypt or in the region if tomorrow morning the president got on TV and said we’re cutting off the aid?” – Bill Kristol
Both comments during ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday (8/18/2013)
Now (of course), I disagreed with just about every other comment to spew from these two men’s mouths during the program, but in this one regard, we agree (as much as it pains me to say it). We can & should reevaluate our funding of Egypt’s military, and flat out cutting off aid to Egypt would be cutting off our nose to spite our face (you were wondering when I’d get around to the Sphinx reference).
My own position on continuing to give $1.3 Billion dollars a year to a nation on the brink of Civil War while its military continues to slaughter literally hundreds of its own citizens, has been just as complex as President Obama’s own thinking on the matter. On one hand, it buys us influence where we otherwise would have none (my position on Foreign Aid in general). On the other, the Egyptian military is using that money to fund their slaughter. The best solution, in my opinion, has been that we attach strings to the money, demanding that none of it goes towards the purchase of weapons or munitions. Yes, they may violate the agreement and just buy those munitions from someone else, but if they do and we find out,
“[D]oes Washington really want to back the Muslim Brotherhood? At the end of the day, we can talk about process and our love for the democratic process, but now that is broken and the choice is binary. Do we want to be with the military or do we want to be with the Brotherhood? Israel doesn’t think we should drop the military and side with the Brotherhood. Neither does Saudi Arabia, neither does Jordan, neither does the UAE. I don’t know why Washington would want to go against so many of its key allies.
Despite the slaughter, most Egyptians still support the military. The crackdown is against supporters of ousted (and currently imprisoned) President Morisi and
“[T]hey are obviously getting the impression that no matter what they do, our aid will continue, so we do need to exercise our influence by saying we’re going to follow the law [the 1980 Camp David Peace Accords], particularly in light of your recent violent crackdowns, suspend aid until you restore democracy.
“No aid till you restore democracy!” So we suspend aid to Egypt, they tell us to F-off and turn to Russia for their funding. Brilliant! Think Putin might demand Egypt cede some control over the Suez Canal in exchange? Nah! He’d never do that! Putin’s a pussy cat.
Oh, but it gets better (worse?), dear reader.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Chucky Cheese) pointed out on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday that we can safely cut aid to Egypt because not all that money is going to fund Egypt’s military anyway:
“I don’t think we’re buying any love of the Egyptian people when they see an American tank on the street, when someone is shot down or rolled over by a tank that was purchased with American money, do you think that buys any friendship with the Egyptian people? What happens with foreign aid is basically foreign aid to Egypt is more likely to buy a lavish chateau for a dictator or a general in Paris than it is to buy bread for people in Cairo.”
So I’m confused here. Is the money going to buy weapons to kill Egyptians or is it (quote) “more likely” being spent by Generals on lavish chateaus on the French Riviera (which kills no one yet continues to buy us influence?) Setting aside for a moment that in (literally) the same breath, Paul expresses more concern over the waste of taxpayer dollars on a ”lavish chateau” than tanks used to kill civilians, I understand not wanting to waste Taxpayer dollars so some tinpot dictator can live like a Pharaoh, but if your justification for defunding Egypt’s military is because it’s using that money to kill its own citizens, only to then argue that very little of the money is actually going to do that, haven’t you just destroyed your own argument? And just how many of these “lavish chateaus” are Egypt’s generals buying? You think there’d be a way to find out.
Who knew the GOP loved The Muslim Brotherhood so much? Well, you know what they say about “your enemy’s enemy”? They hate Obama more than they hate TMB.
Naturally, the GOP is split between those who attack President Obama for his continued support of Egypt’s military, and those who believe that our aid to Egypt buys us leverage we otherwise would not have.
We’ve listened to the GOP blast the president for over a week for his “failure” to “act decisively” on Egypt, yet now suddenly, many in the GOP seem to be switching gears faster than a NASCAR driver on the final lap of the Daytona 500 (author bows for the apt redneck metaphor.) But Democrats are likewise split on whether or not we should continue funding Egypt’s military… though their hesitation has more to do with whether or not what happened in Egypt is indeed a ”military coup”, which would make funding that coup illegal. I don’t like when people allow “semantics” to drive policy. “Yes” it’s a coup, and “yes” funding a coup is technically illegal. But does stopping that aid put us in a stronger or weaker position? A few Republicans seem to be willing to side with the President on this one and give him a pass on the issue.
But wait for it: this tenuous “support” for the president by members of the GOP cannot and will not stand. If I had to make a prediction, I foresee a call for “military intervention” in the near future… something President Obama would NEVER support short of quelling a genocide. Very soon, dear reader. Because the Republicans that want war always win out over the ones who don’t.
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