As the growing conflict between Egypt’s army and tenacious supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood continues to plunge Egypt into chaos, the official American response has called international ridicule upon President Barack Obama.
The President’s refusal to acknowledge last month’s military coup has kept open avenues of American arms support to Cairo — even as pundits openly question which side we’re really arming and who will benefit from hand-me-down guns in the region if the present conflict resolves.
But there’s more blame to go around. Congress rejected an amendment two weeks ago that would have suspended aid to Egypt until it can hold free elections.
The Senate vote wasn’t even close: 86-13.
“It would be a terrific mistake for the United States to send a message to Egypt: you’re on your own,” said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) in opposing the measure — this, after himself calling for the exact same thing in early July. “I urge my colleagues to vote to table the Paul amendment.”
Ah, “The Paul Amendment.” Now it all starts to fall into place.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had attached an amendment to the omnibus transportation bill that, had it been approved, would have suspended the $1.5 billion a year in military aid the United States has been giving Egypt until the country holds free and fair elections. In the meantime, the money would instead go to fund bridge rehabilitation projects here in the U.S.
That was more than two weeks ago. By Friday of last week, violence in Cairo had reached such a level that headline writers were trotting out the Red Nile allusions.
More than 600 deaths (by the time you read this, probably many more) had been documented in Giza and Cairo, with resolute supporters of Mohammed Morsi vowing never to back down in their fight to reinstate the country’s deposed leadership.
The military government had reneged on its original pledge to handle the Brotherhood’s violent protests with kid gloves, announcing last Thursday that resistance would be met with live fire. The new corrupt regime began describing the old corrupt regime’s supporters — whose violent post-coup resistance at least reflects the defensible belief that Morsi was a legitimate leader who was overthrown in a coup d’état — as terrorists and criminals.
Amid all this, it goes without saying that it’s a historically bad time to be a Christian in Egypt.
So, with last week’s mounting chaos as a backdrop, Paul unloaded on Senators for supporting Obama’s duplicitous handling of the Egypt crisis by continuing the already-dubious armament gravy train.
“This is something that those who voted in Congress are going to have to live with,” Paul told Foreign Policy magazine last Thursday. “The question is: How does their conscience feel now as they see photographs of tanks rolling over Egyptian civilians?
“For those who think more weapons is ‘engaging’ us with the Egyptian people, ask an Egyptian,” Paul added. “When you’re protesting in the streets and you’re run over by an American tank, you’re not going to be appreciative of American engagement.”
Whether Senators are struggling with heartfelt guilt trips is anyone’s wild guess; but as the flow of violent imagery coming out of Egypt accelerated last week, their political conscience had begun to sting.
POLITICO reported a significant number of Democratic and RINO Senators had begun to use rhetoric mimicking Paul.
While suspending joint military exercises as the president has done is an important step, our law is clear: aid to the Egyptian military should cease unless they restore democracy,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is working with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on legislative language that would impose conditions on assistance to Egypt.
…Leahy isn’t alone among Democrats who see the sudden removal of Morsi as a coup — Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has also called for aid suspension until elections are scheduled.
Paul also dialed up the heat on an increasingly feckless Obama.
“While President Obama ‘condemns the violence in Egypt,’ his administration continues to send billions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for it. The law is very clear when a coup d’état takes place, foreign aid must stop, regardless of the circumstances,” Paul said Thursday in a reiteration of his “no-aid” stance. “Mr. President, stop skirting the issue, follow the law, and cancel all foreign aid to Egypt.”
Obama instead rattled his fake plastic saber by canceling Operation Bright Star, a joint military exercise with Egypt. But he stayed quiet as the money spigot kept flowing.