Decades of failed U.S. foreign policy are playing out in Egypt today as Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship hangs by a thread. The Egyptian government, the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid and the third in foreign aid, has been left to run rampant over multitudes of impoverished citizens for the thirty-plus years, without making reforms that would allow free elections.
Why would the United States invest billions annually into a nation, no matter how vital to our national interests, with virtually no strings attached?
It would be convenient to blame Barack Obama for this latest outburst but the current administration is merely one more in a succession of failed administrations, in respect to how the U.S. spends its foreign and military aid. Obama is far from blameless but the problem is far larger.
This is a lesson we should have learned with Iran in the mid 1970s when the Shah’s regime fell. The Carter administration sat on its hands while Islamic extremists filled the power vacuum, and it appears very possible that the same thing could happen in Egypt.
Consecutive U.S. administrations have doled out foreign and military aid for years without insisting that Mubarak open his government to dissenting non-Islamic views and parties. As a result the current regime teeters on the edge of collapse with no one to fill the vacuum other than extremists or a military junta.
As the future of the entire Middle East hangs in the balance these are questions every American should be asking their government. The United States foreign policy—our entire foreign policy—is a mess. We have pressured Israel to negotiate with extremist Islamists and allowed a man like Mubarak to run amok with out restraint.
While it may be impossible to place the totality of the blame for Egypt at Barack Obama’s feet, his coddling attitude towards Islamics and his failure to understand the impending threat of the Islamists among them is deeply disturbing. Indeed, some in the Obama administration almost seem to side with the extremists. Instead of condemning radicals within the Islamic faith Obama has treated them like an insignificant fraction of an otherwise good religion.
Contrarily, no religion that allows the barbaric practices of extremists such as al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and others can be a good religion until it universally condemns the practices and those who carry them out. Islam as a whole has not done so.
Without question the United States at times will have to align itself with unsavory characters and regimes to protect our national interests. But our foreign aid must be distributed with strong humanitarian strings attached; our military aid must be assured only when the governments that receive it adhere to stringent requirements that assure some modicum of decency.
America has placed all of its eggs in one basket in Egypt and now it appears that Mubarak’s regime at the very least will not survive him. Not an ounce of forethought, it would seem, has been devoted to our future in the region after this one dictator’s is gone.