Egypt

The U.S.: Helping Egyptians Help American Military Contractors Help Themselves

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Stephen Smith blogged the other week here at Hit and Run about how the unrest in Egypt was having no effect on the flow of U.S. military aid. The Boston Globe the other week gave some more specifics on who benefits from U.S. aid:

United States taxpayers have funneled more than $60 billion of aid into Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, but more than half of the money has been spent supplying weapons to the country's military…

About $34 billion of the aid to Egypt has come in the form of grants that Congress requires Egypt to spend on American military hardware, according to statistics from the Congressional Research Service. Those contracts include helicopter engines built by GE Aviation in Lynn and transmitters for Egypt's Navy built byRaytheon in Tewksbury….

But there is certainly no need for an Egyptian revolution to mean any revolution in the ways the U.S. funnels money to domestic munitions interests while adding firepower to the Mideast powderkeg, say Esteemed Experts:

 Edward Djerejian, a former senior State Department official whose specialty was the Middle East, said the special military relationship with Egypt should continue, as long as a new government abides by democratic process and respects its international obligations, including the peace treaty with Israel

"We don't know what the composition of the next government will be, so it's difficult to make any decision on US aid until we see it," Djerejian said. "I think it is critically important that our aid to the Egyptian military continue, because the military, as we have seen, is really the pillar of law and order and stability in Egypt."

Because of course domestic military policy doesn't end at the water's edge, folks!

Shifting away from the massive military aid package to Egypt would be an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, because billions of dollars for the US defense industry, and American jobs, are at stake.

The Staple Singers do Dylan's "Masters of War:"

NEXT: Was the Mubarak Regime Complicit in Egypt's Sectarian Violence?

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  1. I’m shocked, shocked I tells ya.

  2. We’ve given them 60 billion in military aid and they can’t even squash a couple protestors – government doesn’t work I tell ya…

  3. Once again, Egypt has a $50 billion yearly budget. $2 billion is 4% of said budget.

    I’m not entirely thrilled that lobbyists have used this yearly stipend to Egypt as a way to maintain US military contracts, but there is a vast swath of difference between “US Aid finances the Egyptian Military” and “US Aid funds a small percentage of the Egyptian military that is stipulated to be used buying US made hardware”.

    I realize that the reality is less gripping as a news story, but still, facts are facts.

    1. Where does this post state anything like that?

      1. I’ll admit that this post isn’t as inflammatory as some others, but the one it links to and other Reason writers have made several comments during the Egyptian coup that the US is “funding the Egyptian military, thus our tax dollars are buying the bullets that the military may be shooting, or the tanks that are rolling over innocents, etc.” in a vareity of posts.

        1. We are funding their military. Unless someone has said that we fund all or most of their military, your point is mute.

    2. If I read the post correctly, I believe the point is that the United States gives Egypt foreign aide (which is bad) which Egypt uses in part to buy weapons (which is bad) from nepotist US weapons contractors (which is bad).

      There is always a bigger picture, but as in most cases, it doesn’t matter as much as the details.

  4. You conspiracy theorists and your military-industrial complex nonsense.

    We give aid to Egypt because they are a fountain of democracy and freedom in the Middle East….oh, wait, wrong card.

    Ahem.
    We give aid to Egypt because they are a steady ally in the War on Terror and a key participant in the Peace Process.

  5. “United States taxpayers have funneled more than $60 billion of aid into Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981, but more than half of the money has been spent supplying weapons to the country’s military…”

    Look at the bright side: At least the US government gets a big tax write off for it’s charitable donation…

  6. Fred Reed made an interesting point in his column about the Egyptian uprising:
    http://fredoneverything.net/Cairo.shtml

    “Why does Egypt have tanks in the first place? She has nowhere to go with them. Tanks don’t float very well, and almost never fly, so you can use them only against countries with whom you have borders. Unless you have much more navy than Egypt does. So the choices are to fight Libya, Sudan, or Israel. The first two have no detectible military, and thus no need of being fought, and the third has too much. Actually, why does Egypt have an army at all?

    The tanks come from Washington, which gives the Egyptian military, unneeded by Egypt, huge annual subsidies. (While people go hungry.) Why? Not to attack Libya and Sudan, which mostly just sit there, and certainly not to attack Israel, Congress being essentially a subcommittee of the Knesset. Anyway, it wouldn’t work.

    So, obvious as zits on a prom queen, Washington is paying the Egyptian military to kill Egyptians to keep them in line.”

    1. If by “interesting” you mean “borderline retarded” than yes, that was interesting.

      Egypt had a military (with tanks!) before we started to subsidize 4% of their annual budget, and whether they buy the tanks from us or from China they will have tanks.

      1. And they’ll still have teargas canisters too, but I’d’ve preferred if the ones Mubarak lobbed against the protesters weren’t stamped “Made in USA” and paid for by US tax dollars.

        Interesting fact: you keep sneering that our military aid is “only 4 percent” of Egypt’s annual budget; however, according to Wikipedia, military expenditure is only 2.3 percent of Egyptian annual expenditures. In other words: if your statistic is correct, we’re paying for the entire Egyptian military, with a few dozen million bucks left over for Mubarak to skim each year.

        1. I think you’re missing my point. I too agree that it would be preferable if we didn’t send Egypt ANY aid at all, military or otherwise, and they simply bought the tanks and tear gas themselves on the opne market. That way when the Made in the USA Tear Gas cannisters are thrown it will be clearly a neutral effort on our part.

          But you are taking a giant leap of logic to state that A.) the US funds the ENTIRE Egyptian Military, and b.) That if we stopped sending them checks tomorrow said military would somehow act differently.

          Again, I am against any and all aid being sent for military use, period. But to argue that our aid funds all of the Egyptian military or better yet therefore allows them to overthrow the government and shoot their own people with tear gas is just ridiculous.

          As a historical note, you do realize that the USSR was the primary funding arm of the Egyptian military when they got their asses handed to them in 1967 by Israel, right?

          Would you prefer if they went back to buying Russian tanks instead of ours?

          1. But you are taking a giant leap of logic to state that A.) the US funds the ENTIRE Egyptian Military, and b.) That if we stopped sending them checks tomorrow said military would somehow act differently.

            Then I’ll restate A) to say “the US gives Egypt a sum of money greater than Egypt’s entire military budget.” If you want to interpret that as “But we’re not, like, paying for their military or anything,” go ahead.

            As for B), no, not what I am saying; however, when a military we pay for oppresses its people with our weapons, our hands get dirty too.

            As a historical note, you do realize that the USSR was the primary funding arm of the Egyptian military when they got their asses handed to them in 1967 by Israel, right?

            Would you prefer if they went back to buying Russian tanks instead of ours?

            Why not? I don’t care who the Egyptian government buys from. I wish they’d bought their teargas canisters from the Russians too, because “Made in Russia” items used to oppress people wouldn’t have embarrassed me the way “Made in USA” teargas canisters did.

            Americans want to bring freedom to the people of the Middle East! Breathe deep the sweet teargas of liberty, y’all.

            1. She’s got you Tman. Those aid funds, no matter how hard you try to spin it, or how loudly the State Department cries foul, are fungible.

            2. “the US gives Egypt a sum of money greater than Egypt’s entire military budget.”

              That does not mean “all of the aid supplied by America is used to fund the entire Egyptian military”. Just because the amount of aid we give is higher than the amount they spend on their military DOES NOT mean we fund THEIR ENTIRE MILITARY.

              Instead of guessing, we can find out.

              This is from your Wiki link-Egypt Military Budget- “$5.85 billion (2009) + $1.3 billion of U.S military aid annually”

              According to the State Department, U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually [5] in a stream of funding known as Foreign Military Financing.

              November 10, 2010-Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
              NATIONAL SECURITY
              Egypt’s armed forces, among the largest in the region, include the army, air defense, air force, and navy. The armed forces inventory includes equipment from the United States, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union, and China. Equipment from the former Soviet Union is being progressively replaced by more modern American, French, and British equipment, a significant portion of which is built under license in Egypt. “

              Even though I disagree with the US spending the money, what’s the advantage to spending $1.3 billion to support 1/5th of Egypts military?

              US embassy cables: Egypt’s strategic importance to the US

              President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as “untouchable compensation” for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.

              With these facts available, do you still think “Washington is paying the Egyptian military to kill Egyptians to keep them in line”?

              If you do, then I’m done.

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