From: Cliff Black
Winona Post publisher Fran Edstrom’s recent column proposes that U.S. aid to Egypt’s military be suspended, a sentiment shared by many other observers of the military coup in that politically chaotic and globally important country. Edstrom’s instincts – and her knowledge of U.S. law in this case – are cogent and reasonable. Why would we continue our policy of sending $1.3 billion in annual military aid to a country in such turmoil, and, furthermore, to one whose military took over control of a nation in what is arguably the textbook version of a coup? U.S. law requires suspension of aid to countries involved in military coups.
But the law can be changed, and, in the interest of Middle East stability, should be in this case. Egypt is the most populous country in the region, and, thanks in large part to that U.S. aid, it has a well-equipped, disciplined army. Egypt holds the keys to many strategically important issues, not the least of which are the 1979 peace accord with Israel and control of the Suez Canal. Those, alone, are globally vital matters dependent upon a stable Egypt. For now, the only body apparently capable of maintaining stability in Egypt is its military, which, without U.S. aid, would be seriously hobbled and possibly unable to prevent general civil war.
In an interview with Newsmax TV, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said, “The army did the only thing it could do. The Muslim Brotherhood was engaged in a creeping coup after their election. With millions of people on the street demonstrating against the Muslim Brotherhood and with the Brotherhood on the street demonstrating in favor of [Mohammed] Morsi, it was only a matter of time before the civilians started mayhem against each other.”
Military coups typically create new problems that simply make matters worse. In this case, the Egyptian military is needed to stabilize the country long enough for the democratic process to resume, which it must, with civilian rule restored. As former ambassador Bolton put it in his Newsmax interview, “We’ve got to find a way to keep this calm. Showing a signal of support for the military will certainly keep our leverage where it is now. And the military, sad to say, is the only institution in Egypt that’s capable of restoring peace and getting stability into the equation.”