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More Foreign Aid to Egypt’s Dictatorship

tahrir-uprisingby Jacob G. Hornberger

When the next U.S. debt ceiling comes around, one thing is for sure: the mainstream press will be shouting and crying about how important it is to lift the ceiling once again, thereby permitting the federal government to pile even more debt onto the backs of the American people.

Unfortunately, in the period of time leading up to the debt ceiling, the mainstream press never objects to the government programs on which all that money is being spent and, in fact, criticizes calls to reduce federal spending and borrowing.

A good example of this phenomenon is the massive amount of foreign aid that the U.S. government provides to the dictatorial regime in Egypt, which the mainstream press continues to support.

The front page of today’s New York Times reports that the U.S. government is nearing a pact that will cut $1 billion from a $3 billion debt that Egypt owes the United States.

Imagine that: Each year, the U.S. government is spending a trillion dollars more than what it is bringing in with taxes. It’s borrowing the difference. That debt just gets piled onto existing debt and continues growing. American taxpayers are ultimately on the hook with respect to repaying that debt.

So, where does the U.S. government get off forgiving debts of a foreign regime? That billion-dollar debt that is being forgiven could have been used to pay down the U.S. government’s debts, which would have benefited hard-pressed Americans.

How did Egypt come to owe $3 billion to the United States? According to the Times, “most of it came from a program called Food for Peace that offered loans to buy American agricultural products after the Camp David peace accords with Israel during the Carter administration.”

So, there you have it — a welfare program for American farmers. But instead of simply giving the money directly to American farmers, the U.S. government lends the money to the Egyptian government, with the understanding that it will use the money to buy food from American farmers.

Why lend the money rather than simply give it to Egypt? Because it doesn’t hurt to have a foreign government in hock to the U.S. government. In that way, it will be more submissive and subservient. If they do what they’re told, the debt can be cancelled down the road.

Let’s not forget that the $1 billion in debt forgiveness is on top of the $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer money that the U.S. government provides Egypt’s military dictatorship on an annual basis.

According to the Times, however, the aid is to “back democracy.”

Democracy? What a joke.

Apparently the Times operates under the same rationalization that U.S. officials operate under: that because Mohamed Morsi was elected president, that means that there is now a transition to “democracy.” I wonder if they’re aware that a dictator can be democratically elected.

Morsi’s election came under military rule, which obviously skews the vote, given that people have to factor in the possibility that the military was monitoring how they voted. Moreover, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Morsi is simply assuming the same dictatorial powers exercised by military dictator Hosni Mubarak, leaving the military machine in its dominant and privileged position in Egyptian society and simply putting military officers who will be loyal to Morsi in charge. Morsi has also abrogated to himself legislative powers, especially since the military dissolved the legislature just before the elections.

Of course, what happens in Egypt is up to the Egyptians. That’s their business. Whether they leave the military dictatorship in place is up to them. Whether they want Morsi to wield dictatorial powers is also up to them.

But that doesn’t mean that the American people, through their government, need to be funding dictatorship and tyranny, which is precisely what exists in Egypt notwithstanding the election of Morsi.

It’s also important to point out that contrary to the position often taken by the mainstream press, government-to-government welfare is not the key to economic prosperity. Economic prosperity in Egypt depends on ending and dismantling the dominant position that the Egyptian government, especially the military, plays in the economic affairs of the nation.

Let’s face it: the U.S. government is doing what it has long done. It’s using foreign aid to buy “friendship” and “loyalty.” U.S. officials are so scared that Egyptian officials are making friends with China that they feel that their best option is to try to outbid the Chinese with cash, debt forgiveness, and, of course, a continuing flow of weaponry that will only fortify Egypt’s military dictatorship. Morsi is playing U.S. officials like a fiddle, especially by choosing China for his first official visit.

Meanwhile, in a classic example of the combination of state and business, the Times reports that “the State Department and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will take executives from nearly 50 American companies, like Caterpillar and Xerox, to Cairo beginning Saturday as part of one of the largest trade delegations ever.”

All of this statism only goes to show what a wrong road the U.S. government continues to take our country. The U.S. government has no more business sending U.S. taxpayer money to foreign dictatorships than it does to foreign democracies. Taxing the American people to send welfare to foreign governments is a wrongheaded way to make friends.

Given the approaching debt ceiling and ever-increasing federal spending, there is no better time than now to terminate all foreign aid, beginning with the aid provided to Egypt’s dictatorship. Moreover, American businessmen don’t need the State Department, the Pentagon, or the CIA to escort them to Egypt or anywhere else. They are fully capable of negotiating their own deals in foreign countries without the help of the U.S. government.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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