In his recent $3.8 trillion budget announcement for 2013, President Obama presented a new national defense strategy and foreign aid priorities. With regime change and unrest in the Middle East, will Americans continue to be safe? Do we know what we are funding?
Priorities Gone Awry
Regarding foreign aid, the President’s 2013 budget (voted down 414-0 in the House of Representatives) “establishes a new $770 million MENA (Middle East North Africa) Incentive Fund, which will provide incentives for long-term economic, political, and trade reforms to countries in transition—and to countries prepared to make reforms proactively.”
With two of the recipient nations – Egypt and Tunisia – having changed regimes through violent protests in 2011, incredibly, we are funding countries moving quickly toward Islamic fundamentalism.
In 1979, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed on to the American-brokered peace deal with Israel. Since that time, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid behind Israel. In 2011, the pro-American Hosni Mubarak – who became Egypt’s president after the 1981 assassination of Sadat – was overthrown as violence and Islamic fundamentalism swept across Egypt and the Middle East. In a wave of anti-American sentiment since the revolt, relations between the U.S. and Egypt have been tense.
A crisis over American-sponsored non-governmental organizations (NGOs) led the Egyptian government to file criminal charges against Americans they prevented from leaving the country. In October 2011, one Egyptian official claimed that the U.S steered the course of Egypt’s transition toward “a direction that realized American and Israeli interests.”
The following statements were seen in the February 15, 2012 editions of state-funded, and widely-distributed, Egyptian newspapers. “America is behind the anarchy,” (front page of the Al Gomhuria newspaper). “American funding aims to spread anarchy in Egypt,” (front page of Al Ahram newspaper).
The seed for violence in Egypt – in some measure – comes from the brutal tactics of the pro-American Mubarak. Over the length of his time in power, Mubarak’s police forces killed, illegally detained, and threatened his many enemies. The lasting failure of the Bush and Obama presidencies is that they did not hold in check the growing reign of terror by Mubarak against his enemies. The radical Muslim Brotherhood was able to feed off the anger of the Egyptian people to successfully oust Mubarak and blame America for our well-funded support.
In Obama’s 2013 budget proposal, $1.3 billion is designated for military aid to Egypt, the same as 2012.
Under a condition placed by Congress for 2012 aid, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must certify that Egypt is abiding by its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, holding free and fair elections, and “implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion and due process of law.”
In effect, Congress ordered the White House to deliver a level of accountability concerning Egypt.
Yet disturbing questions remain:
* Given Egypt’s dismal track record, what possible assurances could they give to guarantee that our funding will fulfill our conditions?
* Why do we continue funding Egypt after they overthrew their pro-American leader a year ago, imprisoned and detained Americans, and strengthened ties to Islamic fundamentalists such as the Muslim Brotherhood?
* Will we fight tomorrow against a military force and former ally (Egypt) we are funding today?
Out-of-Control Washington Spending Forces Change in Defense Strategy
In January, President Obama announced a new strategy for the defense of our nation. “I called for this comprehensive defense review — to clarify our strategic interests in a fast-changing world, and to guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared, “It really does represent a historic shift to the future. And it recognizes that this country is at a strategic turning point, after a decade of war and after large increases in defense spending.”
A debt crisis caused by excessive government spending has led the President and Defense Secretary to propose a reduction in the size of planned increases in defense spending over the next 10 years. Upcoming budget “sequestration” (special rules for spending cuts by Congress) may force actual cuts in defense spending.
Since 9-11, our military has adapted to fighting Islamic fundamentalists who are quite willing to kill Americans on our own soil in their hatred of the “Great Satan.” With our troops removed from Iraq, the military focus in the Middle East has shifted to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. President Obama has announced the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan by 2014.
Were we ready 10 years ago for 9-11 and the fight against terrorism? No.
Are we ready to meet the latest challenges from the Middle East?
With changing defense strategies and questionable foreign aid, our ability to remain safe from our enemies is being threatened. President Obama’s 2013 expenses would add $1 trillion to our debt. Added to our current $16 trillion of debt, the White House and Congress must provide the fiscal responsibility and military courage to protect our country.
Americans need to be informed about the impact of budget cuts and our ability to defend our borders. Start by asking your representatives where they stand on automatic cuts forced by upcoming budget “sequestration,” and which defense priorities they will fund. Challenge the continuing renewal of foreign aid to countries with loyalties shifting from the U.S. and toward our enemies.
For more solutions to the problems facing America in a post 9-11 world, go to http://truecapitalism.org/
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