To intervene or not to intervene, that is the question. The United States has to walk a fine line when addressing power struggles and politics in other countries. As we turn to Egypt and the debate in Washington about monetary aid, the most important point is what message the US is sending.
The US gives about $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt; much of this aid goes to the Egyptian military, which is currently in control of the country. This money is the focus of much debate over the last few days. Some say that withdrawing the funds would mean the US losing influence in the country. Others say that this relatively small amount (small relative to the monetary aid of other countries) does not afford the US much leverage in the first place.
We could have a long discussion on what exactly the morality of the US is when it comes to other countries. Policy and therefore morality is different in each case and each country, due to history and politics. But leaving all that for another day, US interests take precedence for the US, as makes sense in any country. Egypt has long been touted as an ally to the US in the region. But do human rights have any influence on US views? Is the possibility of leverage in Egypt worth compromising the morals of the country?
This is not to be a discussion of Morsi’s actions and how his democratically elected regime was far from embodying the ideals of democracy. The question of whether or not the coup was warranted can wait for another day. This is about the nature of the aid and the implied meaning of continuing US Support. The aid in question is not humanitarian; it does not go to feed the hungry or heal the sick. It goes to make tanks and weapons for the Egyptian military, weapons that are likely being used against Egyptian citizens.
Continuing to provide military and monetary aid to Egypt is tantamount to implying US approval of not only the coup, but also the recent violence against pro-Morsi protestors. President Obama and his administration have offered up the expected platitudes decrying violence by the Egyptian military against civilians. While the fate of the aid is not the president’s decision alone, as the leader of the United States, his is the example that we follow. Do we intervene? We certainly should. The $1.5 billion is a good start.