U.S. foreign aid, which dates back to the early 1950s, is designed to support U.S. national security by helping our friends, pressuring our adversaries, and promoting a safer, more prosperous world.
That’s why U.S. aid shifted over the years as our priorities shifted – from winning the Cold War through the 1980s to supporting U.S. global predominance in the 1990s to fighting the war on terror since 2001.
It’s also why Washington has showered so much foreign aid on Egypt since it made peace with Israel in 1979, stabilizing the region and making Arab-Israeli war far less likely.
But, with the rise of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi was a leading figure, Egypt is no longer the strong U.S. ally on which Washington has relied for more than 30 years.
Morsi does not share our values and he pursues policies that threaten our interests. Consequently, Washington should not give Cairo the economic and military aid that will strengthen Morsi at home, encourage him to keep undermining us abroad, and send a confusing signal about U.S. resolve to our friends and adversaries.
With an economically desperate Egypt needing our aid more than ever, a course correction of fewer or no U.S. dollars will get Morsi’s attention and could give us the leverage to influence his behavior.
For starters, Washington has long distributed foreign aid to help advance freedom and democracy.
But, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood that dominates Egypt’s new parliament are cracking down on human rights.
Morsi unilaterally fired Egypt’s military leaders, parliament’s upper house appointed new editorin-chief of the nation’s state-run newspapers, independent newspapers are under government attack for “fueling sedition” or “harming the president through phrases and wording,” and the government continues to tolerate if not encourage the Islamist-led persecution of Christian Coptics.
Morsi has said that strict Islamic law – known as Sharia – should govern Egyptian life, and the Islamists who dominate the committee that will write Egypt’s new constitution say they would make Sharia the basis of it.
In addition, Morsi is undermining U.S. interests in ever-bolder ways, apparently unconcerned about the consequences for U.S.-Egyptian relations.
He promised to push Washington to release the “Blind Shiekh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, who’s serving time for the 1993 bombing of New York’s World Trade Center. He also released jailed terrorists, including members of the dangerous Gama’a Islamiya and Islamic Jihad.
Morsi embraced the Holocaust-denying, Israel-threatening Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Islamic Summit in Saudi Arabia and then became the first Egyptian leader to visit Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – undermining U.S. effort to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.
That same week, Egypt rejected a U.S. request that it search an Iranian ship passing through the Suez Canal for illegal arms.
Morsi promises to uphold Egypt’s “treaty obligations,” but he’s undermining the spirit if not the letter of Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
He sent tanks into the Sinai and reportedly plans to send more along with rockets and helicopters, though the treaty calls for a demilitarized peninsula to serve as a buffer between Egypt and Israel.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s media adviser recently called the treaty a “mark of shame” that brought “cancer, hepatitis, and kidney infections” to Egypt.
Admittedly, Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in early 2011, abused human rights and enforced only a cold peace with Israel. But, he was a reliable U.S. ally, justifying the billions that Washington sent his way.
By contrast, Morsi is testing U.S. resolve as he curtails human rights while threatening U.S. interests abroad.
It’s time to tighten the spigot and, if that doesn’t get Morsi’s attention, close it altogether.