Continuing to Support Egypt’s Dictatorship
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Month after month, the U.S. government continues to disburse $1.3 billion in annual U.S. taxpayer money to Egypt’s military dictatorship. The justification for this is twofold: “national security” and to help Egypt’s “transition to democracy.”
The first rationale — national security — is ridiculous. “National security” is nothing more than the old bromide that is trotted out to justify whatever the government does and wants to do. It is the most meaningless, flexible term in the government’s lexicon. It’s even better than the general welfare clause of the Constitution to justify government power.
After all, what do U.S. national-security officials say will happen if the U.S. government stops funding Egypt’s military dictatorship? Will the Egyptian generals take to the streets and riot over the termination of their welfare checks from the United States? Will they order an invasion and occupation of our country? Will they send teams of U.S.-trained military commandos into the United States to commit terrorist acts until their welfare is resumed?
No, none of the above. Like I say, the national-security rationale is just a bogus way to justify whatever national-security officials want to do. With Egypt, they want to continue funneling money into the coffers of Egyptian generals, who are their buddies and partners, as they have for decades.
What about Egypt’s so-called “transition to democracy”?
What is it about the pronouncements from the Egyptian military that has led U.S. officials to believe that the military intends to permit, at least up to now, a “transition to democracy”? This is surely one of the greatest examples of wishful and self-delusionary thinking ever.
The Egyptian generals have made it clear that the Egyptian military will continue to be the foundation of power in Egyptian society. They have also made it clear that they have no intention of relinquishing their omnipotent power over the Egyptian people.
Sure, there has been a presidential election in Egypt and, yes, the candidate favored by the military lost. But the fact remains that the only reason there was an election is because the military permitted it. And the only reason that the non-military candidate won was, again, because the military permitted it. The election was conducted under the control and supervision of the military. The military has determined the extent of the president’s powers and has issued its own constitution for the country, which of course guarantees that the military will remain the foundation of political power. The military also dissolved the legislature prior to the presidential election. And it issued a decree of martial law providing that soldiers could continue arresting civilians whenever they wanted.
What is it about those actions that has led U.S. officials to believe that the Egyptian military is “transitioning to democracy”?
The Egyptian military holds an exalted and privileged position in Egyptian society. For decades, it has operated with impunity, immunity, and with extreme brutality over the Egyptian people. It thrives off the taxes imposed on the Egyptian people, on foreign welfare from the United States that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service collects from the American people, and on an extensive series of commercial enterprises that loot and plunder the Egyptian people through monopoly economic privileges.
The military steadfastly refuses to agree to any political system in which its exalted and privileged position can be monitored, supervised, altered, modified, reduced, or dismantled by anyone. In principle, their military dictatorship is no different from that of Burma.
And what’s its rationale? You guessed it: national security! The generals say that Egypt’s national security depends on the military’s continuing to be the ultimate foundation of power in Egyptian society.
By the way, that’s the same rationale that U.S. officials use for having funded this brutal military dictatorship for decades — that “national security” (and “order and stability”) requires it. In fact, the Egyptian military dictatorship’s very brutality is precisely why the U.S. national security state chose it to serve as one of its principal rendition-torture partners in its “war on terrorism.”
Notice that notwithstanding the fact that Egypt now has a new president of the country, U.S. officials have absolutely no intention of making their monthly welfare check to Egypt payable or even co-payable to the president. Instead, they intend to continue placing the money under the sole control of the Egyptian military, thereby enabling it to purchase more weaponry to further fortify its dictatorial hold over the Egyptian people.
And speaking of that military weaponry, take a wild guess where they purchase it. Yep, from U.S. arms sellers, who would lose business if the welfare checks to the Egyptian military were to cease.
Well, boohoohoo. But why should the U.S. government continue to engage in immoral conduct (and yes, continuing to fund a brutal military dictatorship that continues to oppress the Egyptian people is immoral) just because a termination of such immoral conduct is going to cost some Americans arms sellers some profits and jobs? Maybe this is a good opportunity to end the fascistic relationship between the U.S. government and the U.S. arms industry that has made the United States the biggest arms seller in the world.
At a time when federal spending is threatening to bankrupt our nation and given that statists are now calling for another burst through the U.S. debt ceiling, it’s time to put an end to foreign aid, especially given that it is used so immorally to oppress people through the support of brutal dictatorships in different parts of the world. It’s also time to reject the standard “national security” bromide that is so often used to justify immoral conduct on the part of the U.S. government. In fact, it’s an opportune time to question the entire post-World War II national-security state apparatus that keeps all this immorality in motion.