Monday, March 16, 2009

A Spot of Politics

I have a quick scan each morning of the online papers that mention Egypt, Giza, and Cairo just to see what's being covered and every so often something strikes my fancy. This morning Andrew Sullivan wrote about Egypt's military importance to the US:

"1) Egypt controls the Suez Canal, which makes it considerably easier to control traffic of ships between the Red Sea and Mediterranean and was crucial for the buildup in both US-led Iraq wars; 2) Egypt is a key counter-terrorism ally and played a major role in the Clinton-Bush rendition program; 3) Egyptian air bases play an important logistical role in the ongoing occupation of Iraq; 4) Egypt has played a crucial diplomatic role supporting US efforts in various recent regional crises. If anything, Washington is getting a great bargain for its $1.3bn a year, and those who are paying the real price are the Egyptian people who are seeing the Mubarak dictatorship maintained by America.

Finally, the military aid program to Egypt is also a subsidy for the US defense industry and a mechanism to grease the palms of the corrupt Egyptian military establishment, whose senior officers get kickbacks on the weapons deals."

My late husband used AID funding to help to purchase equipment for some of his companies and I'm always astonished at how little the American people understand about how this works. In the first place, most AID funding is in the form of low-interest loans that must be used to purchase US-made goods. No one is GIVEN anything. If you qualify, you can get better interest rates for the purchase of equipment or whatever, but the money must be spent in the US. This is of enormous benefit to the US producers who might otherwise not be picked to supply the equipment. When Egypt is given aid to buy military equipment, the same stricture holds true. The equipment, the maintenance, and the training all come from the US, providing employment and sales for US suppliers. Whether the aid comes in the form of low interest loans or outright gift, I don't know in the case of military aid, but people should understand that this "assistance" is not without its payoffs for the giver as well as the receiver.

copyright 2009 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani


Connie said...

I think it is natural, in any partnership, that sometimes one side benefits more, and at other times, the other side benefits more... this is what teamwork is all about. Nothing is ever perfect, or 100% balanced, and it doesn't have to be, to be good for all involved.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

I think it's great that aid can help the giver as well as the recipient. I get really annoyed at the assumption that it is all one way...with only the recipient benefitting.