From this piece in Time magazine, an unhappy revelation:
The Obama administration cut democracy and governance aid to Egyptian opposition groups in its first two years in office from $45 million in George W. Bush’s last budget to $25 million for the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. The Obama administration also stopped providing aid to groups that had not registered with the Egyptian government, drawing criticism from human rights organizations.
Yes, Bush did provide aid to those groups Obama and Democrats decided to cut out. And this aid was on top of the $1.3 billion per year in aid the U.S. was providing the Egyptian military.
Obama has been squealing about Egypt being democratized as quickly and as peacefully as possible over the last couple of weeks. And yet, he’s done everything he could to avoid financially assisting those groups the U.S. would like to see run Egypt, groups funded by President Bush.
During the Iranian democracy protests a couple of years ago, Obama expressed nearly complete indifference to those protesters and the Iranian mullahcracy’s subsequent brutal and murderous crackdown. The President has done absolutely nothing publicly to give the Iranian people any kind of support. But here, Obama and his administration have made it a point, with quite contradictory statements, to push for democratic change in Egypt, even though Obama has defunded those in the best position to implement change. What’s wrong with this picture?
During this whole Egypt situation, the administration has been a day late and a dollar short. I don’t know if this is one of those “better late than never” moments, but Obama has decided to change policy:
So the US is preparing a new package of assistance to Egyptian opposition groups designed to help with constitutional reform, democratic development and election organizing, State department officials tell TIME. The package is still being formulated, and the officials declined to say how much it would be worth or to which groups it would be directed.
The piece goes on to say there hasn’t been a decision on whether or not to include funds for the Muslim Brotherhood. Let’s hope Obama decides to use his brain for the first time since the protests in Egypt began a couple of weeks ago; I’m not holding my breath.
Here is what I said about U.S. foreign policy in this post:
Foreign policy should always be designed to benefit the country using that policy. Everything else takes a back seat, including ideology and values. Shared values are a bonus when allies with such values exist, but it isn’t a requirement…
Normally, you wouldn’t want to have allies whose governments are quite oppressive to their own people. But sometimes there isn’t a choice; we have that now with Egypt, especially as it relates to our relationship with Israel and our ability to bring Middle East oil through Suez. There has to be balancing act with those who are friends of ours.
We still don’t have a choice. We need to make sure we support those in the Egyptian government who will work with our interests.
As far as I’m concerned, Egypt isn’t ready for democracy yet. And with the Obama administration, that democracy will be even harder to come by.