"“Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.” - Joe Biden
"The Egyptian government has an important opportunity to be responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people, and pursue political, economic and social reforms that can improve their lives and help Egypt prosper." - Hillary Clinton
Wow, that's a really proportionate criticism.
Fun fact: Egypt is our #3 recipient of foreign aid.
It would be great if Biden, instead of saying Mubarak is not a dictator, said something like this:
"Dear Egyptian Police and Military. The US government gives Egypt $1.5 Billion every year. That's what is paying your salary. If you want to get paid, just get out of the way."
That said, "idealism" is also often a terrible basis for foreign policy as well.
There's a balance of course.. but in a case like this, I'd elevate America the idea over America the set of short term interests, and I'm embarrassed by Biden's comments too.
Naive idealism is no better, but pragmatic idealism is far far better, but also far more difficult.
Makes you wonder if it is really worth it.
The US government gives Egypt foreign aid because that is part of the agreement of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, when Egypt became the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel.
I don't know enough about the overall situation to have an opinion, but it does seem at least plausible to me that buying peace with foreign aid might be a good thing (albeit a distasteful moral-hazard-prone good thing).
We need a real poli-sci explanation for why certain leaders are sticky, and why certain regions seem to have more than their fair share of despots.
Some people are just better at being despots than others, just as some people are better at being actors, CEOs, basketball players or programmers.
Give me unquestioned power over some tin-pot little country and I'd probably be chased out of my palace within two weeks. But a really good (in the sense of efficacy, not morality) despot knows just how to crush dissent among the masses using just the right amount of force while keeping all his generals (and anyone else with the power to depose him directly) dependent on a drip-feed of favours and constantly afraid of a knife in the back. It's a delicate balancing act, I'm sure, and some folks are just really good at it.
And replace him with who ?
We had a nice pet leader in Iran once, he used to buy weapons and nuclear reactors from us. He did torture people and his secret police weren't terribly nice. Then he got overthrown and for some reason the people that replaced him didn't like us very much ( although we did still sell them weapons ).
That's really up to the Egyptian people, no?