Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Fight over Aid to Egypt

Congress will meet this week to discuss foreign aid. On the table is a 20.7 billion dollar package for various nations that includes the entire 1.7 billion that the United States gives to Egypt. A debate is gearing up over cutting a portion of that aid (link).

From the articles:

"When our major aid recipients engage in conduct that flies in the face of our own values then we ourselves are tarnished," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the Appropriations Committee's senior Democrat.

The issue is one that divides me a bit. I agree with cutting aid to dictatorships that harm their people. But if that aid is supporting infrastructure that aids suffering people, then how moral is it to cut the aid. This point however is not an issue:

Obey said he will try to cut back the bill's $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt -- the second biggest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel -- when it reaches the full committee. The rest of Egypt's appropriation was for non-military aid.

So it is military aid. This aid is helping with military and security. You know, the security that is beating democratic protesters.

So, cutting this aid prevents American dollars from paying for activites that help to hold back democracy. I'm a Republican, I'm sure that the administration is good with this, right...wrong:

Earlier in the week, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch urged lawmakers to maintain Egypt's aid, calling Cairo a "formidable partner" in fighting terrorism.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, the Arizona Republican who heads the foreign aid subcommittee, said he will oppose Obey because Egypt is a "strategic partner" that is "clearly moving toward democracy." Cutting aid only would make Cairo turn to China and former Soviet countries for its military needs, he said.

This is how Sadam Hussien was created. This is how problems are created. But take a look at this:

The bill provides Afghanistan $926 million, but withholds $225 million until the administration certifies that Kabul is cooperating in drug interdiction efforts.

So why can't we make stipulations. Whay can't we say that the aid is held back until the prisoners jailed for speaking their mind are free. Until the religion you espouse has no effect on getting a job. Until all religions can practice their faith freely. Until a judge can point out that elections are unfair wihtout being charged with a crime.

Maybe we don't break up aid that way...wait, from the same article:

The bill has $80 million in humanitarian aid for the West Bank and Gaza, but bars support to Hamas, the militant group that won Palestinian elections in January.

Ok. Maybe we don't break it up based on the social structure and government of the country:

Sudan would get $450 million, including $138 million for the turbulent Darfur region. But that is conditioned on the government's support of peace agreements in the war-ravaged country.

Well, we don't give to people who harm human rights just to get them on our side, right:

The bill also would lift restrictions on $19 million in military assistance to Indonesia, likely to draw opposition from lawmakers critical of Indonesia's human rights record.

The fact is that, if you need to bribe a country with military aid to get them to agree that people's lives are valued...they don't really agree.

So what are the options. It is impractical to say that this method is devoid of results, but isn't there a better way? If only we had an international body that would make sure that the rights of all people are respected despite difference in religion and political structure.

Wait, the United Nations.

Sorry. An international body that is not corrupt and has recently put 9 countries who are not free and 12 who are only partly free on the Human Rights Council (Source: Gateway Pundit). This includes: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba. And Human Rights Watch was pleased with the results.

So countries give countries with bad human rights violations mitltary aid and the same types of countries get on the UN Human Rights Council so the UN does not use other means to enforce human rights. So the aid, seen as the only way to get the countries to cooperate with reforms, continues.

The countries don't agree with the reforms anyway so they don't do anything. The aid continues and in a decade or two everyone is surprised what there is some kind of problem.

US administrations, both Democrat and Republican have supported some these governments and followed this policy for over 50 years. Neither pary has clean hands on this.

To get some changes write:

House (link)
Senate (link)
Governors and State (link)

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