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AdLib On August - 16 - 2013


When it comes to the MSM addressing President Obama on Egypt, it’s Ali Babble and the 40 Minutes to fill. Apparently, in their modern day version of Arabian Nights, President Obama is a magic genie who only needs to blink and he can stop a military coup and a decades-in-the-making religious near-civil war in another country, turning Egypt into a wonderful democracy with Starbucks shops popping up from the rubble. Of course, the question is, why does he prefer to let this terrible stuff happen (God is no doubt enjoying the rare holiday of always getting accused of that).

Here’s how the circular discussion on Egypt goes in the MSM:

A: “Obama is looking bad for not having stepped in and done something about the military coup in Egypt when it first happened.”

B: “Obama is being ignored by the military in Egypt, they sent McCain and Graham packing, Obama has little influence or leverage in Egypt.”


A: “Obama needs to cut off funding to Egypt in order to punish them for what’s going on and send a warning shot across their bow.”

B: “Saudi Arabia and other gulf states are giving Egypt amounts of money that dwarf US aid and if the US cut off aid, it would just be replaced by them.”

In an information age and in a time when we have a number of 24 hour news stations, it is ironic how ignorance and phony arguments flourish. No matter how serious or terrible world events are, the MSM has to create conflict even if reason, facts and common sense have to be ignored because that’s how their employers and they make money.

First, does the President of the United States even have the power to control his own country all by himself? Yet pundits and “journalists” decry how he hasn’t stepped in to change what’s going on in Egypt? How exactly is he supposed to do it, under which Constitutional power does the President of the United States have control over military coups and religious conflicts in Egypt?

Yes, in some countries where the US gives a huge percentage of the foreign aid they receive, it can have leverage (though how much leverage do we have with what goes on in Israel when the US is the primary source of aid to them?) but these same people attacking Obama for not stepping in on Egypt to control events, also report that the amount of aid we give Egypt is a fraction of what they get in total. So Obama can force the military in Egypt to do what he wants…how?

The facts are that the US gives Egypt $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt and that goes primarily to the military. Only $250 million comes from the US in economic aid…compared to the Saudis, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates who guarantee $12 billion in economic aid. AND…they have assured Egypt’s military that they would gladly replace any amount the US might cut off.

So again, why does Obama have any leverage over Egypt? Especially when the amount of aid we give them is negligible in their eyes and easily replaced by “our allies” in the Middle East? And of course, when the military is trying to cement its power over control of the entire nation? They would give that up in exchange for a small fraction of the aid they receive continuing to come from the US instead of Saudi Arabia?

And why do I know this while these pundits go back and forth over Obama having little influence yet also having powerful influence?

Maybe Obama should start having the US give aid to the news networks then try to influence them to be honest, informative, non-confrontational and not exploitative. Wonder how well he would fare on that?

He’d probably find influencing Egypt a lot easier.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

20 Responses so far.

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  1. Assumed Name says:

    Hmm…AdLib, somewhat off topic, but if the Saudis, et al. Will gladly take up the slack should the U.S.’s measly $1.5 billion cease to flow towards Egypt, and if that $1.5 billion doesn’t buy meaningful influence given the $20 billion already flowing from the gulf, them what would be the rationale for continuing to give the Egyptians--military or any other group--$1.5 billion??

    --Assumed (I should say, I’ve not yet read the other comments, but will do so now. :))

    • Assumed Name says:

      Hi AdLib, and welcome back (as you’ve not been well, I understand).

      I sincerely appreciate your concern about keeping Egypt “in line” regarding Israel, and yet does US funding really matter?

      First, it’s not as if Israel is concerned about US interests (as opposed to Israeli interests only) in the Middle East as demonstrated by its announcement (that settlements would be expanded in the occupied territories) immediately before the US secretary of state was to broker a peace deal of whatever sort with the Palestinians (everyone’s despised step-child) — the announcement was a giant middle finger, Israeli internal politics be damned, in all honesty. That is, US aid to Israel doesn’t seem to buy their cooperation; and, differently, although Egypt is the giant next door (to Israel), given their internal fish to fry as well as the markedly more heavy aid from the gulf, it’s not clear (to me, in any event) that US aid to Egypt matters that much. (Perhaps it does, but absent an extremist Muslim military, political, or para-military presence in Egypt, I honestly don’t think Egypt is biting at the bit for a go at the Jewish state, especially given Israel’s superior weaponry, compliments of the US.)

      On that note, that $1.5 billion would go quite a ways towards health care…or a jobs program…or so many other domestic needs.


      • AdLib says:

        No argument that we get a lot of belligerence from Israel in return for our aid but even if we ended aid to them and Egypt, Obama wouldn’t be able to repurpose that money towards domestic spending (though it would reduce the deficit which could help reduce cuts).

        It’s a good question, I do think it’s very complicated as to how our aid to these two countries benefits the US.

        The basic reason would be to prevent war between Arab/Muslim nations and Israel. That would be a horribly bloody war and the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons. Due to America’s (and the oil companies) concerns over this, Israel has now taken for granted that they will receive aid no matter how terribly they act so on one hand, we don’t have influence diplomatically. However, Israel does know that if it wants to launch an attack in the region, it can’t do so without the US’s permission.

        In that respect, the US does get strong influence over Israel’s military usage which is an important thing.

        The aid to Egypt wasn’t originally but is now minimally influential, more a way of the US keeping a toe in the water and having a degree of influence but in light of the severity of the coup and conflict there, it isn’t enough to make a difference.

        The argument could be made that if things eventually settle down back intro a democracy in Egypt, not a sure thing right now, it could leave the US in a position to continue exerting a degree of influence whereas cutting off aid now could damage that potential in the future.

        I don’t know, I do see much complexity here so I keep going back and forth as to which path would be best.

        • Assumed Name says:

          I hear you, Ad Lib…what a mess, no? Another irony is that although US dependence on Arab oil could be markedly decreased with the development of renewable energy (solar and wind, both of which are much less destructive than dams although large wind turbines are noisy and require constant maintenance), there seems to be no political will to fund the development of such energy even though it could in part help stimulate the economy as well as decrease greenhouse gas production. It’s awesome, and in a bad way.

          --Little ol’ me

          • AdLib says:

            Assumed, when Obama was taking office, alternative energy was a big priority for him and the Stimulus funded a lot of green energy efforts.

            Still, what is needed is far more investment and with the Repubs controlling the House, that’s not going to happen.

            The BaggerGOP seems determined to hobble government and the US so that the country is in an eternal state of crisis which could allow them to step in and grab power then finish the job of destroying our country.

            We’re going to be getting a late start since it may be a number of years before Dems take back Congress but we won’t have the chance to make a big push on this until that happens.

    • Kalima says:

      Hi Assumed. If I were to be blunt, the aid money is the price of keeping Egypt on semi-friendly terms with Israel. It was decided in 1979 after Sadat who was much more forward thinking than his predecessor, the bullish Nasser, signed a Peace Treaty with Israel at Camp David after the Arab-Israeli War. If they agreed to recognise Israel, the U.S. would help them grow economically. To define it cynically, it’s a bribe to protect American interests in the region, and the interest is Israel.

      The Saudis still don’t recognised Israel as a state, so too much Saudi aid could and would prove to be dangerous to Israel’s security.

      • Assumed Name says:

        Hi Kalima,

        That certainly is accurate regarding the historical beginnings of aid to Egypt. Fast forwarding to 2013, however, what does the U.S. gain in return for protecting Israel? (How does Israel further U.S. interests in the Middle East?) I’m not always clear about these things, yet it seems next door to blasphemy to inquire, so any light you could shed would be greatly appreciated.


        • Kalima says:

          Assumed, that is a question I often ask myself considering the rudeness and disrespect of the Israeli government, especially this neo-con Netanyahu, but the U.S. has sworn to keep Israel safe from aggression from neighbouring countries by providing the latest military aid to protect itself, so I think when Israel blatantly disrespects the U.S. and International law like with the land grabs and further settlements on Palestinian lands, you should cut the aid to Israel instead.

          Basically there is a need for the U.S. to continue diplomatic connections with Arab countries in the ME as you are still dependant on fossil fuels thanks to the GOP lunatics and their “Drill. Baby drill”, so diplomatic relations are vital.

          Quite honestly I was very concerned by Morsi’s power grab last year and feared for the moderate Muslims and non Muslims in that country. If Morsi and the MB had been allowed to turn Egypt into another Islamist state, they could have easily overturned the 79′ Peace Treaty with Israel, and like it or not, America by siding with Israel’s outrageous behaviour, now owns the responsibility of helping Israel. It’s not about what they get in return.

          The U.S. still has permanent military bases in the ME, in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and also in Turkey.

          This is another thing I feared that is happening there now.


          • Assumed Name says:


            I agree with everything you expressed in your last response. (The quick charge of anti-semitism is waning as a distinction is more often made between racism (which certainly persists) on the one hand and criticizing state action on the other. Indeed, there is opposition inside Israel to expanding settlements in the occupied territories, but this is something that is unheard of in mainstream US news.)

            No worries about responses that take time…as a single working mother with elderly parents, I’m more often than not slow to respond. (The last two days have found me helping my mom with my step-father’s medical visits. :)

            Warm regards,

          • Assumed Name says:

            Thanks, Kalima.

            I think you’ve hit the nail on the head--there is a strong psychological commitment for the US. to bolster Israel due in no small part to political rhetoric, arguably on both sides of the ailse. Interestingly, there is probably a background concern regarding nuclear weaponry in the hands of religious extremists (cue Iran & Pakistan), which seems reasonable, and yet in Israel you have a democracy that prioritizes right to citizenship based on ethno-religious membership (a kind of tribalism, if you will), and in India you have right wing Hindu nationalists who rival historical European nationalist of various stripes. “It’s interesting,” to be sure.

            The other blushing evil is the pro-democracy rhetoric in politics & the news vis-a-vis Egypt and, two years ago now, the “Arab Spring” contrasted with the U.S.’s unabashed support of patently undemocratic, misogynist, actively slave theocratic nation-states (think Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others). I agree with you that a theocracy (in Egypt’s case the ironically democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood) isn’t an ingredient for democracy…indeed, it’s akin to pouring vinegar in your cake batter. Yet given what the U.S. tolerates including letting the Saudis fly home directly after 9/11, the handwringing if McCain, et al. and the news shows (they’re preformers more than informers) is hypocritical theatre at best.

            That said, Morsi and his merry band of “constitutional scholars” are not missed. It’s unclear, however, what the military will spawn in it’s place…perhaps some semblence of proto democratic norms, but more than likely another Sadam Hussein figure which, although not so great if you’re a minority’s minority (Kurds in Iraq, possibly Coptic Christians in Egypt), a long standing social and economic stability after a fashion could be maintained.

            Off to exercise and work!!


            P.S. My son’s birthday bash was a hit!! Lots of work, but a ton of fun--there’s nothing like a big, happy gathering of family and friends!! 😀

            • Kalima says:

              Hi Assumed, sorry for my late reply it was rather hectic today and I found little time to sit at my computer.

              I agree with your thoughts on nuclear weapons in the region and always thought that the Bush War on terror with huge amounts of aid to Pakistan was being funnelled back into the hands of the terrorist so it was a losing battle if their government didn’t keep their side of the deal.

              As for Israel’s nukes, they have spent decades denying it and yet don’t want anyone else to have them which I find hypocritical to say the least.

              The aid to Egypt will continue after this storm to ensure Israel’s security in the region. It’s complicated but without it the U. S. could be pulled into a conflict just as Israel has been trying to do since learning that Iran might be producing WMDs. Personally I have always thought that Israel takes advantage of the U.S. using blatant blackmail. If you are against anything that their government does, you are labeled anti-Semetic. I think that is growing thin for many international countries as Israel continues to break international laws. The European Union has finally taken a stand a few months ago by refusing anything that is being exported from the illegal settlements.

              How nice that your son’s birthday turned out to be so much fun. We tend to remember childhood birthdays into our adulthood. I’m sure he will remember the care and effort you put into his special day.

            • AdLib says:

              Assumed, You and Kalima have really covered the reasoning well behind the US continuing support of Israel.

              I do think the fact that Israel is a nuclear power as well as Pakistan and soon Iran, is a very potent reason as to why the US would not want Egypt to join the other ME nations that declare Israel must be destroyed.

              War with Israel in the ME would of course be disastrous all around the world so putting the pro-Israel lobby arguments aside, it is in the US’s interest to keep and promote Arab acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.

  2. kesmarn says:

    AdLib, this whole damned-if-he-does-damned-if-he-doesn’t scenario has been played out over and over again throughout the whole of the President’s term, hasn’t it? He’s supposed to fix Egypt without any financial or human cost to the U.S.

    He allegedly comes across as “weak” for closing embassies when there’s credible evidence that they’re in danger of attack. And yet he’s blamed for not preventing the Benghazi attack.

    When he doesn’t get confrontational and push hard for his agenda, he’s accused of “lacking leadership skills,” but when his name is too closely identified with any given piece of legislation the GOP claim they can’t be publicly seen as supporting it. Too “bipartisan.”

    The look on the President’s face in this recent photo — to me — says it all. And it expresses how many of us feel about these sorts of absurd contradictory expectations:


    • AdLib says:

      Heh! So true Kes, it sure seems that he’s saying that in his expression.

      But we’ve come to expect this reaction, Obama can never do right. Whether he aggressively jumps into Libya to support the rebels fighting Gadaffi or stays out of taking harsh steps in the conflict in Egypt, he’s wrong. We know it, no matter his successes, he’s always wrong.

      This situation is more of an emotional one, some who haven’t otherwise criticized Obama much on foreign policy now want to take a slap at Egypt and feel Obama is blocking the nation from doing so.

      That is short sighted thinking, just wanting to “hit” another nation to express anger. As noted below, we would be violating the agreement our country made with Egypt when it recognized Israel. So if Egypt turned around and joined the call for the destruction of Israel, that would be a good deal?

      I can’t think of a President in the modern era who has had to deal with as many internal and external crises as Obama has and though he may not always make the right decision, and he deserves criticism when he chooses wrongly (as he has with the NSA spying), he sure has a pretty remarkable batting average.

  3. agrippa says:

    Those people need to start thinking clearly about what is possible, and what is not possible.

    Egypt is in a “Revolutionary Situation” ( the rulers cannot rule in the same old way and the ruled cannot live in the same old way); one in which both the rulers and the ruled are being driven by events.

    The President of the USA is not in a position to control events.
    In a real and practical sense, no one is.

    • AdLib says:

      agrippa, that inflated version of the power America has all over the world, that whatever the US says must happen, will happen, is part of that delusion of American Exceptionalism that the RW pushes and so many Americans, even those who aren’t RW, have bought into it.

      On one hand, such people claim they believe in freedom and on the other hand they expect America to act as a global dictator. Well, we’re not Master of the Earth, whatever the Pres. wants doesn’t magically happen in any other country (let alone this one!) and the world doesn’t operate the way these whiners ignorantly claim it does.

      The military in Egypt is ruthless, craves power and puts that as their priority, just as the Muslim Brotherhood does. The opinions and orders of other nations and even the lives of their own people come last.

  4. Kalima says:

    Well thought out AdLib and I’m so tired of hearing about “Obama’s failure” in Egypt from RW warmongers and clueless “pudnuts” (Bito’s word) on the noisy and constantly complaining Left. Does providing aid to a country make them your whore?

    One of the main reasons for the decades long aid is that Egypt was one of the countries that had recognised Israel as a state in 1979 after the Arab-Israeli War, maybe they can chew on that when they insist, foaming at the mouth that all he has to do is stop the aid. Have these people complaining thought about the impact of yet another government that is hostile to Israel in the region? If only these issues were that simple there would be no need for diplomats because diplomacy would be eliminated. Then every time a country does something we don’t like, we just take our ball and go home.

    Before these whiners put the blame on the President, which is ridiculous anyway, they should get off their arses and research the history of Egypt so at least they have a few pesky facts. All it takes is a few clicks of the mouse as there is an abundance of information to be found on Google.

    I can’t stand “armchair generals” and am relieved that your President has enough inside details and understanding of the situation, and the quick intelligence to deal with it in a way that won’t damage the hard earned relationship built up with the country. This bullish attitude is what got us into two wars in the first place, and President Obama is NOT George Bush.

    He has forcefully condemned the recent killings by the army the same as many other countries have, but for those calling his efforts a failure, it would be wise to remember that Egypt is not bought and payed for. Many people are still anti-U.S. and Egypt is not the 51st state.

    • AdLib says:

      Kalima, I mentioned below to CL what you already have, that Egypt’s recognition of Egypt obligated us to providing aid to them. So would those howling for aid to be cut be happy to also have Egypt renounce Israel’s right to exist?

      Indeed, Egypt is not our 51st state (isnt that what Iraq used to be?) and they have never been a puppet regime for the US to control. So why, when things are in even greater chaos over there, would they suddenly become that?

      It is a no win situation for Obama, it is a lesser of any evils so whatever the choice is, it won’t be good…but it could be worse. That’s reality especially when it comes to the ME, there’s rarely a decision that is “good”.

  5. choicelady says:

    Thank you for good sense, AdLib. We do not have THE influence everyone wants thanks in no small measure to the “we done wan no stinkin’ foreign aid goin’ overseas” (because foreign aid ought to go to Red states that are about as foreign to the U.S. as anyone…)

    More important and totally missed by even GOOD reporters is that this president is refusing to perpetuate National Security Memo #68 that required after WW II that the U.S. intervenes in EVERY conflict. All, totally, all the time, 24/7/365. We FINALLY have a president that respects other nations’ sovereignty and has ended the U.S. Cold War imperialist mentality -- and he’s accused of being incompetent or looking bad or something.

    Listen up whiners Left and Right -- you GOT what you wanted. We no longer send bundles abroad nor do we wage war and dominate every single internal action everywhere.

    Now that we have what both sides wanted (though never for the same reasons) QUIT WHINING. And that includes Gene Robinson who damned well OUGHT to know better.

    President Obama is doing good and hard things -- he’s governing without dominating, and that should be totally supported by us, however we can.

    • AdLib says:

      CL -- Apparently there is also some agreement that the US is obligated to fund Egypt, connected to Egypt’s recognition of Israel.

      It’s a mess and not as clear cut as it may seem.

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