Pro-democracy protests began in Egypt on January 25 and have intensified in the days since. With the government's fear of the protests growing, they’ve decided to send the military into multiple cities to contain the protesters -- a military armed with weapons paid for by US taxpayers, specifically earmarked through foreign aid.
The ostensible goal of foreign aid is to promote “a focus on trade and investment; utilities; education; healthier, planned families; natural resources; and democracy” according to the USAID website. Yes, that's right: Democracy. Democracy might just have something to do with the reason these protestors resent having their Constitution suspended since 1967 due to a supposed “State of Emergency.”
As a taxpayer, you should know that $1.5 billion a year is specifically sent to Egypt's military each year in order to prevent democracy from happening. The money goes to a nation that the state department classified as “poor” in human rights with reports ranging from arbitrary deprivation of life to government disappearances.
Vice President Biden doesn’t seem to have a problem with arming the Egyptian government. In an interview with PBS, Biden said that he knows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “fairly well” and that he doesn’t consider him a dictator, despite the dictatorial power he has now held for about 30 years.
Fortunately, our government's obtuse attitude appears to be changing slightly. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today urged Mubarak to restore Internet service, which he had cut off to suppress dissent. But even so, the appropriate condemnations have been missing in action.
Egypt should serve as a warning to the US government. When you commit money to the militaries of nations with known human rights problems, you risk financing a massacre of civilians. Early reports indicate that the military is not engaging the protesters, and in many cases are happily greeted by them. So far, so good, but that's exactly what happened for several days in Beijing before the Tianmen Square Massacre. Hopefully, we can avoid a repeat of that. But the US taxpayer should never have been placed in this position to begin with.
UPDATE: Obama's administration has finally announced that there will be a “review” of aid given to Egypt. Maybe next time, we'll try closing the barn door before the horse is gone.