By Jacob G. Hornberger
A March 17 Washington Post editorial
entitled "A Bad Decision on Egypt" criticizes a
decision by U.S. officials to consider renewing
foreign aid to Egypt, given that the Egyptian
government is still prosecuting certain
non-governmental political organizations for operating
in violation of Egypt's registration requirements.
After U.S. officials had threatened a cut off of
the aid unless Egypt terminated criminal proceedings
against Americans, Egypt permitted the Americans to
leave the country, causing U.S. officials to now
consider renewing the aid.
In order to renew the aid, however, U.S. officials
must grant a "national security waiver" exempting the
State Department from issuing a congressionally
required certification that Egypt is "implementing
policies to protect freedom of expression,
association, and religion, and due process of law."
The Post opposes such a waiver because it
would "send the wrong message," especially since the
prosecution of the NGOs is resuming in April, albeit
without the Americans who were permitted to leave the
country. The Post says that such a waiver would
indicate that the U.S. government is concerned only
about American citizens and not about underlying
principles of freedom and democracy.
But since when has the U.S. Empire been concerned
about freedom and democracy in Egypt and about the
well-being of the Egyptian people?
For some 30 years, Egypt has been ruled by a brutal
military dictatorship. That's been the nature of its
political system a military dictatorship. At the
risk of belaboring the obvious, a military
dictatorship is the opposite of a democratic political
A military dictatorship is run by military
officials, none of whom stands for election. Under
such a regime, the entire country is run just like the
army in a top-down, command-and-control manner. The
economic system is centrally planned, with the
military at the center of everything. Rules and
regulations are the order of the day. In Egypt the
military has come to play as big a role in the
Egyptian economy as the U.S. military plays here in
the United States.
That's the military dictatorship that was headed by
Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, the brutal dictator
who served as ruler of Egypt for decades and who was
finally ousted from power by the Egyptian protestors.
Since Mubarak's ouster, the military has made it clear
that any new political system in Egypt must accept the
military, and all its commercial enterprises, as the
foundation of Egyptian society.
If the military gets its way, it will continue to
reign in Egypt albeit with a faηade of democracy by
virtue of the fact that the citizenry will be
permitted to elect certain public officials. But the
ultimate power will still reside with the military.
Unfortunately, the Post editorial failed to
point out that for the past 30 years, the U.S. Empire
has been the principal supporter and enabler of
Egypt's military dictatorship. Billions and billions
of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been funneled into the
dictatorship in the form of both money and armaments,
which have been used to maintain "order and stability"
within the country.
What has such "order and stability" meant for
Egypt? Tyranny! Yes, a brutal tyranny, plain and
simple. That's what military dictatorships are all
about brutal and vicious tyranny.
Oh, sure, the Egyptian military officials never saw
things that way. They viewed their brutal oppression
in terms of maintaining "order and stability" in
terms of protecting people from the "terrorists" and
other threats to "national security."
Over time, tyrannical regimes inevitably begin
expanding their conception of "terrorists" and threats
to "national security" to encompass those who question
and challenge the dictatorship and what's it is doing
to the citizenry. That means arbitrary arrests,
round-ups, assassinations, torture, executions,
military dungeons and prison camps, spying on the
citizenry, arbitrary searches and seizures, and
indefinite incarceration without due process or trial.
Not surprisingly, that's what the Egyptian military
dictatorship has been all about for 30 years. Why do
you think the Egyptian people finally risked their
lives in peaceful rebellion? It's because they were
willing to die than suffer any more under a brutal,
mean, vicious, tortuous regime.
That's the regime that the U.S. Empire has
supported for decades, knowing full well what it was
doing to the Egyptian people. The fact is that U.S.
officials not only knew what the dictatorship was
doing to the Egyptian people, they embraced it they
supported it they loved it. In their minds, they
agreed with the Egyptian military officials that all
this was absolutely necessary to maintain "order and
stability" and to keep the country safe from the
"terrorists" and to protect Egypt's "national
Do you recall that guy the CIA kidnapped in Italy?
Why do you think the CIA chose Egypt as the country to
rendition the guy to? The CIA was fully aware of the
Egyptian military's torture facilities and its
extremely efficient and brutal methods of torture.
After all, that's part of what those billions of
dollars in U.S. foreign aid, year after year, had gone
into building and maintaining. They wanted the best
torturers, and they knew that Egypt's torturers were
among the best in the world.
The Post recommends that U.S. foreign aid be
suspended until Egypt complies with U.S. demands to
dismiss the criminal prosecution of those NGOs and
until it's clear that the military has surrendered
power to a democratic regime.
But such a suspension is unlikely because, as the
Post editorial points out, a production of
F-16s here in the United States might have to be shut
down because Egypt needs the U.S. foreign aid to pay
for them. How's that for a moral justification for
continuing foreign aid to a brutal military
It's time for Americans to raise their vision to a
higher level, especially given out-of-control federal
spending and debt that is threatening the economic
well-being of the American people.
The right thing to do is not condition U.S. foreign
aid on Egyptian compliance with the demands of the
U.S. Empire. The right thing to do is for U.S.
officials to apologize to the Egyptian people for
having funded and enabled their military dictatorship
for some 30 years and the horrible tyranny that came
with it. The right thing to do is to terminate all
foreign aid to Egypt and, for that matter, every other
foreign regime, permanently. Indeed, the right thing
to do is to dismantle America's vast overseas military
empire and restore a constitutional republic to our
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the
Future of Freedom Foundation.