The Free Press, Mankato, MN


August 17, 2013

Get tough on Egypt

Why it matters: The Obama administration's unwillingness to withhold aid hurts U.S. credibility on human rights

It’s telling in a troubling way that the Obama administration has to consider its options on U.S. aid to Egypt in the aftermath of the military government’s slaughter of 500 plus innocent, mostly unarmed, protestors.

There was a time in our history when standing up for human rights around the world wasn’t a calculated policy consideration. Now, we often seem hesitant to do the right thing.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling for Obama to cut off the $1.5 billion in U.S. aid that goes to Egypt. We join that call.

Obama said on Thursday, he was consulting national security experts on taking additional action on sanctions. So far, we’ve condemned the killing of protestors, canceled joint military exercises and delayed the shipment of four F-16 fighters to Egypt. Canceling aid should be our next step and we should take it soon.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., have called for the halting of U.S. military aid to Egypt. Leahy has proposed a plan that ties renewal of aid to Egypt’s re-establishing a democratic government. Leahy has proposed a three-step process that provides more aid as Egypt frees political prisoners, sets up a democratic government and shows a commitment to human rights.

Obama condemned the violence but said the U.S. needs to maintain its relationship with Egypt. That may seem like a reasoned approach, but Obama should understand that sometimes in a relationship, one party tells the other party their actions threaten that relationship. Egypt should get that message loud and clear, and so far, it doesn’t appear the military government is paying much attention.

Paul concluded that the ouster of democratically elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was a military coup and by law, U.S. aid should have been suspended immediately. While many in the House and Senate agree with that sentiment, they were not ready to vote for it. Paul’s resolution pulling aid to Egypt lost on an 86-13 vote last month in the Senate, according to The Hill.

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