This week President Barack Obama ordered the intervention into yet another war after Syria crossed his “red line” by using chemical weapons against its own people. However, over in Egypt, denying civil liberties and free speech appears no barrier to U.S. aid. In the very same week as using human rights to justify another intervention, the Obama Administration quietly approved $1.3 billion in annual US military aid to Egypt. Both Israel and Egypt continue to receive billions in such aid every year despite the reduction or termination of basic environmental, educational, and other programs in the United States.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that the aid was “carefully considered” but it was viewed as necessary to “preserv[ing] important regional interests.” I almost wish it was not “carefully considered” given Egypt’s denial of basic civil liberties.
The same careful consideration has not prevented a cessation of all aid to Turkey despite that country attacking of hospitals, arrest of doctors for helping protesters, the faking of riots by police, and the use of caustic chemicals in water cannons by the government.
Secretary of State John Kerry notified Congress of the transfer of money shortly before the sentencing of 43 Egyptian and foreign NGO workers in what Kerry has denounced as a “politically-motivated trial.” That certainly showed them.
The government of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi and our other ally, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, show the hypocrisy of the United States in justifying military intervention in the name of human rights. Our credibility on such questions is further reduced by our own refusal to prosecute people responsible for the torture program and the widespread use of warrantless surveillance of our own people.
We are now supporting Islamist governments which are responsible for the greatest rollbacks on secular government in the Middle East. These same countries are responsible for the abuse of citizens seeking to exercise free speech and other basic liberties. We are sending billions to these countries that could be spent on our people who are facing weekly announcements of programs being cancelled for lack of funding.