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It’s Time to Downgrade the U.S. Relationship with Egypt

Richard Sokolsky and Andrew Miller call [1] for reducing military assistance to Egypt and recognizing that the relationship with Cairo is not as useful as it once was:

There was a time when both countries derived important mutual benefits, including reliable Egyptian support for the United States’ interests in the Middle East. But over the past decade, the United States has poured more than $13 billion in security assistance into Egypt with little to show for it except more jobs for a defense industry exporting materiél that is ill-suited to Egypt’s defense needs and that allow the Egyptian military to sustain a patronage system that distorts the economy and fuels corruption.

The case for reducing U.S. support for Egypt is quite strong. If anything, Sokolsky and Miller don’t take their argument as far as they could. Scaling back military assistance to Egypt would be a welcome improvement, but in light of the coup that brought the current government to power and the continued abuses under Sisi’s dictatorship it would be appropriate to suspend that assistance entirely for the foreseeable future. Sisi’s rule has been a fine example of how brutish repression does not deliver security. There is no good reason for the U.S. to continue indulging an abusive dictatorship that does so little to advance U.S. interests. Egypt’s status as a U.S. client is a relic of another era and has less and less relevance to U.S. interests as time goes by. Like other bad clients in the region, Egypt has become a liability to the U.S. and doesn’t merit the support that Washington has provided more or less automatically for so many decades.

Sokolsky and Miller’s op-ed title says that Egypt is a “terrible ally,” but this actually oversells the value of the relationship. The truth is that Egypt is not an ally at all and shouldn’t be considered one, and we have given that name to the relationship to exaggerate its importance. The relationship with Egypt should be reassessed and downgraded accordingly, and our other bad regional clients should get the same treatment.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "It’s Time to Downgrade the U.S. Relationship with Egypt"

#1 Comment By LouisM On December 19, 2017 @ 2:57 am

Egypt has 2 key interests to the US:
1) Egypt could fall to the Muslim Brotherhood as Obama tried so hard to let happen (Egyptian military stepped in and stopped it) which would open the door to Islamic radicals with 1st world weapons and a perfect launching pad for terrorism throughout the Mediterranean.
2) Egypt is the traditional competitor to Turkey in the Islamic world. Its true that Egypt has not participated in as many joint military campaigns as Turkey but Egypt is becoming less secular and more Islamic everyday. There is a certain counterbalance at play, that if Turkey proves to be an unreliable friend…that the benefits provided them by the US and EU could be cut off and redirected to Egypt.

While not a direct US interest (its more an Israeli interest though I’m sure Israel will make it our interest thru AIPAC), the US wants Egyptian stability for Israel’s sake. Its difficult to see how Israel would react to a hostile Syria, a hostile Lebanon, a hostile Turkey and a hostile Egypt. That is a recipe for another 67 war.

On a personal note: I think it is time to downgrade the Egyptian relationship but not to the point of internal instability BUT to be fair Israel is now a 1st world country. It doesn’t need a billion dollars in foreign and military aid anymore. If we downgrade Egypt, which we should do then we should also downgrade (if not eliminate) our aid to Israel.

#2 Comment By When To Finish On December 19, 2017 @ 9:10 am

It’s time to downgrade our relationships in the Middle East generally. The Middle East has become a vast tar-pit in which we have floundered and wasted a shocking amount of blood and treasure. And in the end our greatest accomplishment was to temporarily appease parasites like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Seal Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden. That, at the very latest, should have been the end.

#3 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 19, 2017 @ 10:02 am

I guess this puts me in the bad guys camp. But one more destabilized state in the region is ill advised.

#4 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On December 19, 2017 @ 10:06 am

I agree we should tone down all our Middle Eastern ties, but I would not make “human rights” or “democracy” touchstones of our foreign policy. “Human rights” is too often a rationale for war—see Serbia, Saddam, and Libya. I don’t want to make anywhere “safe for democracy.” I want to reduce our foreign entanglements.

And I’m sick of Captcha. Jeez Louise!

#5 Comment By b. On December 19, 2017 @ 12:38 pm

“The case for reducing U.S. support for Egypt is quite strong.”

The case for doing this to Saudi Arabia is stronger.

I wonder if the NYT in general, and Sokolsky/Miller specifically are engaged in some distraction/inoculation gambit here on behalf of Saudi Arabia?

On the other hand, the question of “qui bono” is easily answered even by them: “more jobs for a defense industry”. Of course, this is a lie in its omissions – more profits, dividends, fees, bonuses go unmentioned, as do more donations, more lobbyist positions, more think tankage.

It makes no sense whatsoever for a nation that on the one hand claims to place a premium on its own security – at the expense of the security of all others – and on the other hand claims to have developed uniquely advanced, unrivaled weapons to become the by far largest arms exporter on a planet in which the state’s monopoly on organized violence has been substantially eroded.

Profit is the Grand Unified Theory of US foreign policy, “national security” and other “national interests”. The merits, or lack thereof, of specific “allies” or other recipients of US taxpayer-backed military “assistance” are completely irrelevant, given that these days, even the most threadbare pretext will suffice. It certainly explains spending half a billion on equipping and training Syrian “rebels”.

#6 Comment By MEOW On December 22, 2017 @ 8:07 am

Good idea. Then downgrade Israel and Saudi Arabia.