WASHINGTON, August 23, 2013 — Senators Rand Paul and John McCain have voiced their displeasure at the Egyptian military’s overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi, who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, became Egypt’s head-of-state in June 2012. Morsi’s predecessor, President Hosni Mubarak, was overthrown and imprisoned by the Egyptian military during the Arab Spring that swept across the Middle East. People have called for additional rights and demanded an end to corruption in several Arab countries in the past three years.
Paul and McCain have tried to convince their colleagues to cut off foreign aid to Egypt. Both have argued that the Foreign Assistance Act, which was passed in 1961, requires the United States to cut off aid to any country whose military overthrows a democratically elected head-of-state.
Paul proposed a Senate amendment in July that would have eliminated nearly $1.5 billion in American aid to Egypt. The amendment was shot down by a vote of 87-13.
In an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine Paul said, “This is something that those who voted in Congress are going to have to live with. The question is: How does their conscience feel now as they see photographs of tanks rolling over Egyptian civilians?”
Paul and McCain are correct to call for an end to bloodshed in Egypt. They are, however, misguided on the aid issue and have not taken into account reasons why Egypt’s military ousted Morsi.
Morsi was a ruthless dictator who began to unravel the democratic institutions that helped elect him. In November 2012, Morsi granted himself the power to legislate without judicial oversight. While Morsi never threatened or invaded his neighbors, the methods he used to rule Egypt are comparable to the methods used by Napoleon and Hitler.
If the United States is to claim that it is leader of the free world, then it needs to stand up to dictators like Morsi.
If Morsi had remained in power for even a few more years, the impact he and the radical Muslim Brotherhood may have had on Egypt could have set the country back decades. Egypt may have looked like Iran has looked since its revolution in 1979.
Women, minority groups, and anyone not in the Muslim Brotherhood would probably have been yearning for an end to the Morsi rule, but by then Morsi’s grip over Egypt would have been too tight for anyone to do anything about. There is no doubt that Egypt’s previous dictators were ruthless as well, but the United States often chooses the lesser of two evils and right now the Egyptian military ruling over Egypt is less evil than Morsi’s rule.
The United States should use its influence over Egypt to promote a peaceful transition to democracy. After the Second World War ended, the United States attempted to purge German society of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers. The Egyptian military is currently purging
its society of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Senators Paul and McCain should try to bolster Egypt’s attempts to secure democracy, and they should stop criticizing a coup that overthrew a ruthless dictator.
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