from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

"A Nation of Laws": The Egypt Aid Debate

July 12, 2013

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American law requires suspension of aid to any country that undergoes a coup against a democratically elected government. Egypt just suffered, or benefited, from what was clearly a coup: the Army removed an elected president. The argument about whether to suspend aid or ignore the law is a dangerous one, I argue in the Weekly Standard:

Look back at all those things we want for Egypt, and the answer should be obvious: We will do our friends in Egypt no good by teaching the lesson that for us as for them law is meaningless. To use lexicographical stunts to say this was not really a coup, or to change the law because it seems inconvenient this week, would tell the Egyptians that our view and practice when it comes to law is the same as theirs: enforce the law when you like, ignore the law when you don’t. But this is precisely the wrong model to give Egypt; the converse is what we should be showing them as an ideal to which to aspire.

At the least, if the President wishes to continue some of the aid to Egypt he should tell Congress he needs more flexibility and should propose an amendment to the law. This would be much better than the current nonsense we are hearing from the White House, which appears to want to duck, delay, and obfuscate what happened in Egypt--or worse yet simply ignore the statute.

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