America still hasn't grasped parenting's most crucial doctrine: You can't buy love. Exhibit A: The Egyptian military. No matter how many billions worth of artillery we flooded the group with, they still turned on the democratic values we hold oh so dear. Because that's the other thing, America. Like love, you can't buy democracy. Duh.
To be clear, I consider last week's events in Egypt a revolution, not a coup. But let's assume the latter. Let's assume that the Egyptian people succumbed to the will of gunmen whose only objective is to dominate their government.
If all of the above is true, one might then ask: How did the Egyptian military become so powerful in Egypt? Well, there is a lot of social and historical evidence to explain that, but let's think about physical strength.
The United States has been investing in Egypt for decades now. The New York Times reported that "since 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of American aid after Israel." In 2012, America sent Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid.
The Obama administration has promised even more aid this fiscal year. As of October 1, we will begin administering another $1.55 billion — $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million for economic purposes.
America's dedication to building a trigger-ready Egyptian "democracy" may be the reason the Obama administration has been reluctant to call this a "coup." Now that doesn't mean the United States won't outright condemn the military's actions soon. (Our foreign policy is so wishy-washy you can hardly predict anything these days.) But let's be honest about what is happening here. The post-Mubarak Egypt needed stability. And America's bright idea — as usual — was to arm the country in order to win its good graces.
The Middle East is not the newest frontier for foreign imperialism — Britain and Russia tried for centuries, not to mention France — but it is America's newest frontier. And Egypt, the most populated and influential country in the region, was a great place to dominate.
In theory, the post-Arab Spring climate should have helped us plant sturdy political roots in the Middle East. You want democracy? We wrote the textbook! You want freedom? Holla at us! You want a constitution? We've got one, 250 years strong!
But we made a mistake. Nations may be built through militaristic pursuits, but they are maintained through economic stability. What good will an arsenal of guns and tanks do for a country with high rates of joblessness and an electrical grid that cannot offer citizens 24 hours of consistent energy each day? How does a society grow if there is no money to pay teachers and no workforce for college graduates? Such was (and is) Egypt's economic situation.
In the end, Morsi did not stand a chance against the ailing economy. Now I offer him no sympathy. Everything you've heard about the ousted president is true. Morsi is an Islamist. And with the force of the Muslim Brotherhood behind him, he passed a discriminatory constitution that repealed many freedoms Egyptians had long enjoyed. But when the protests grew into the millions, Morsi had no economic improvements to show for his rule. America grew the military and not the economy. It is no wonder the armed forces plucked Morsi from power once they got the chance.
You give a soldier a gun, he'll use it. And that's the way the cookie crumbles.
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