The Toll of U.S. Foreign Aid: U.S. Foreign Aid Has Long Been Used to Support and Influence Tyrannical Regimes around the World
Eddlem, Thomas R., The New American
Massive street protests erupted in Tunisia in late December, which ended the 23-year reign of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Fueled largely by an Internet-connected youth movement, the protests were partly a reaction to the publication by WikiLeaks of documents from U.S. diplomatic cables that revealed pandemic corruption by the ruling party, as well as government oppression that included arrests of lawyers, journalists, and political opponents. Another spark helped to ignite the revolt was the dramatic protest by Mohamed Bouazizi, who publicly set himself on fire on December 17 because of frequent government confiscation of his produce in his street vendor's business and the government's refusal to issue him the required vendor permits.
In the last weeks of January, similar protests erupted across Egypt, forcing 30-year dictator Hosni Mubarak to appoint a new government and pledge not to run for another term when his current term expires in September. Massive protests have also spread to the Islamic nations of Jordan, Yemen, and Algeria. A movement similar to those happening in Tunisia and Egypt was put down by the Iranian government last spring, but may rise up again at any moment.
The Islamic dominoes appear to be falling, and a growing wired-in and educated Islamic middle class has made these protests for freedom possible. But what made these protests necessary? The simple answer is that the protests were necessary because the U.S. government propped up those corrupt regimes with massive amounts of foreign aid through the years. All of the governments mentioned above (except Iran) have been 30-year dynastic dictatorships backed by piles of U.S. foreign aid cash. The same U.S. foreign aid that backed the falling corrupt regimes is likely to reduce U.S. influence in those countries" new governments to zero.
The State Department's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review released last year claims that foreign aid giveaways are designed "to harness our civilian power to advance America's interests and help make a world in which more people in more places can live in freedom, enjoy economic opportunity, and have a chance to live up to their God-given potential." But the recent events in the Islamic world have highlighted the reality that foreign aid has historically been used to suppress freedom and has reduced the moral influence of the example of the U.S. Constitution around the world. Various news outlets have echoed precisely what David Reiff of The New Republic reported February 4: "U.S. military aid to Egypt--which averages $1.3 billion annually, and which this week allowed Egyptian police and paramilitaries to bombard protesters with volley after volley of tear gas made by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania--may be grotesque in the objective sense because Washington has provided the Egyptian armed forces with such weapons platforms and systems as F-16 fighter aircraft, Abrams Main Battle Tanks, Apache attack helicopters, anti-aircraft missile batteries, and much else."
The instruments of oppression used against freedom demonstrations in recent months have all been American-made and paid for by U.S. taxpayers. And this has been the case for decades. Rieff--no opponent of foreign aid in theory--concluded of aid to Egypt, 'This is not only a moral scandal, it is a geo-strategic blunder of huge proportions."
America has given Egypt $1.3 billion per year in military aid since the 1978 Camp David Accords, along with a comparable level of "development" aid, though development aid has been reduced in recent years. The "take" by the 30-year Mubarak regime from the U.S. taxpayer has been more than $60 billion, the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the same period.
American aid to Egypt has purchased over the past three decades a highly authoritarian regime that, according to classified U. …