Genuine Machiavellian dilemma confronts U.S. over Egypt aid
Republicans call for delay of aid to Egypt because of coup.
The shipment of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt has been delayed while officials resolve political issues surrounding the legality of the shipment. Obama wants to send the fighters despite a law that forbids the transfer of aid to governments that come to power by means of a military coup.
A 1970s-era fighter, the F-16 as a multi-role platform is nearly obsolete in U.S. service, but still forms the backbone of the air forces of many countries.
The issue however, appears to be a genuine Machiavellian dilemma.
The government of Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected, but passed a staunchly Islamic constitution, disenfranchised others, and Morsi himself tried to establish himself as a dictator earlier in the year. Morsi also made comments that expressed open hostility toward Israel.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian military is understood to be less hawkish and more secular in its approach. It is friendly toward the U.S. and its leadership has given no hint of hostility toward Israel.
It's a bit ironic that the military, which seized power earlier this month by means of a military coup, is the moderate force.
Despite this moderation, the military did depose a democratically elected leadership and has instituted its own rule. The military has placed a transitional government in power and promises new elections. Meanwhile, Morsi has disappeared while in military custody.
The entire situation appears both loathsome and laudable at the same time.
This is where the dilemma lies. The Obama administration is keen on preserving good relations with the Egyptian military, and wishes to send the fighters to Egypt. However, others in the government believe the situation in Egypt qualifies as a coup, and therefore aid to Egypt should be restricted.
The aid would keep America in Egypt's good graces, and buy important influence at a critical time, but the U.S. would also be hypocritical in supporting a military that deposed a democratic regime.
For now, Congress has blocked the transfer until the issue can be debated and decided.
The Obama administration has carefully avoided using the term "military coup" to describe the political developments in Egypt. Despite this, some Republicans say a coup is precisely what has happened. The Republicans are correct.
Our government is in position to make a decision based on either democratic ideals or on Machiavellian principle. It's an unenviable choice, and one that should reveal much about our own elected officials in the process.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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