Neocons held no love for Egypt’s deposed President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, which some felt threatened the US “influence” over Egyptian affairs that is rented with the annual $1.5 billion foreign assistance check. That a democracy was to be undermined by tanks was no big deal to them – it’s all about influence.
Charles Krauthammer said: “We have no particular stake in Egypt’s economy. Our stake is in its politics. Yes, we would like to see a strong economy. But in a country ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood?”
Jennifer Rubin echoed: “…a colossal failure of Muslim Brotherhood rule in the most populous and arguably most important Arab country would not, to be blunt, be a bad thing for U.S. interests, democracy and stability.”
Whether Egypt calls itself a democracy or not, the U.S. carries a big stick. Robert Kagan describes it: “Americans provide $1.5 billion a year in assistance to Egypt, $1.3 billion of which goes to the Egyptian military. It has leverage over the decisions of the IMF and influence with other international donors on whom Egypt’s economy ultimately depends. The U.S. ambassador to Egypt wields so much potential influence that Egyptians obsess daily over whom she is meeting with and concoct wild conspiracies based on trivial events.”
To neocons, leverage is everything. U.S. influence over the Egyptian military is key. As Sen. Lindsey Graham has said: “The day we cut off aid is the day we don’t have leverage.”
So we must keep robbing the taxpayers!
Though the Egyptian military has long been on the U.S. taxpayer dole, what could the U.S. do to tip the scales against the neocon-hated Morsi?
Robert Kagan, in his boasting above, missed a very important area of leverage: Food.
As RPI Academic Board Member Eric Margolis points out: “Cairo imports huge quantities of wheat and subsidizes retail prices for bread. The US sustained the Sadat and Mubarak regimes with boatloads of wheat discounted 50%.” He points out that although US aid stayed the same, this subsidy “tapered off when Morsi took power. Food prices in Egypt rose 10%.
Was this done intentionally to help stir the stomachs of the Egyptian people? Was it done to tip the scales against Morsi? Who knows.
In any case, U.S.-funded Egyptian tanks rolled in at the command of a US trained General, an elected leader was removed from power, and thus ensued the coup that could not be called a coup by the U.S. so that “leverage” could continue. Chalk up another one for the neocons. For now…