The other night, Sean Hannity suggested to Sen. Jim DeMint that the U.S. should cut off funding to Egypt. DeMint politely brushed the suggestion aside. If not even Jim DeMint is prepared to support cutting Egypt off, then clearly a cut-off isn’t going to happen.
But should it? Before answering, read the New York Times’ account of its interview with Egyptian President Morsi.
Morsi told the Times that it is up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize its alliance with Egypt. Morsi added that the U.S. needs to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state. “Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” he explained.
It would be interesting to know which “values” of the Arab world the U.S. should show greater respect for. Apparently, the New York Times didn’t think to ask.
We certainly shouldn’t be shocked by Morsi’s view that it is America’s burden to repair relations with the Arabs and that doing so requires us to fundamenally charge our approach, and to build a Palestinian state. After all, the current U.S. president has taken essentially the same position.
But Congress shouldn’t be bound by this thinking. Morsi has done Congress the favor of describing what’s required for the U.S. to have a good relations with an Egypt over which he presides. If Congress finds these terms acceptable, it should continue aiding Egypt. If not, it should cut Egypt off, if for no other reason than the fact that Morsi deems our money insufficient to purchase any sort of real alliance.
Another way of looking at the issue is to ask whether it’s better for America if Morsi succeeds in maintaining power or better if he loses power. If the latter, or if it doesn’t matter one way or the other, then a presumption arises against sending Egypt money that will help prop Morsi up. The Times interview suggests to me that Morsi’s continued hold on power is, at the very best, a matter of indifference to the U.S.
There’s also an outside chance that cutting off money to Egypt might cause Morsi to be less arrogant and less demanding towards the U.S. However, unless President Obama loses the election, I don’t hold out much hope for this scenario. Morsi can’t really be expected to take a more pro-American position than that of the U.S. president.
Where will it all end? History suggests to me that the surge of virulent Islamic radicalism will end only if/when it produces true ruin for key portions of the world being swept up in it. True ruin means sustained economic disaster or resounding military defeat (or perhaps both). Hastening the process by cutting off aid to Egypt doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Nor does regaining our national self-respect. Ceasing Obama’s game of footsie with President Morsi is a good place to start.
JOHN adds: Morsi suggested that the U.S. has alienated the Arab world by supporting dictators. That being the case, the Arabs should really appreciate our dethroning Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi, two of the most oppressive Arab dictators. Right?
Just kidding. I am about ready to conclude that we should sever relations with Arab countries to the greatest extent possible. We have tried everything else, and now that our energy resources dwarf those of the Middle East, we don’t have a lot to lose.
PAUL adds: Morsi also told the New York Times that as a student in the U.S. he learned about the world from Barbara Walters in the morning and Walter Cronkite at night. This may explain a lot, but what he’s learned about the U.S. from Barack Obama probably explains more.