25 February 2011

Influence and the Birth of Freedom

The pace of change in the Middle East seems to be like fire burning dry grassland. First Tunisia, then Egypt, and now Libya. Muammar al-Gadafi and sons have pledged to fight to their last breath.

When I heard of their pledge, my first thought was, "May Allah grant them their wish, speedily and soon."

In the case of Egypt, the revolution looks like it might result in real democratic reform. Partly this is because of ties between the US and Egyptian military establishments, which ties exist because of US monetary aid to and training of that military. The hope is that the US Military's comfort with civilian control will influence the Egyptian Military's attitude toward the same.

Might I point out that this influence, this access, did not come for free. We bought it with our foreign aid dollars. We also buy influence in Israel with foreign aid dollars - which gives us two things: some influence toward moderating Israeli policy toward Palestinian Arabs, and access to some very useful Israeli military technology. I mention these things because some US politicians (Republicans mostly) are beating their drums to cut off such foreign aid expenditures.

You would think that our politicians, who generally peddle influence, would understand foreign aid, which generally buys it. Or is it just that foreign aid doesn't buy influence from them?

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