Our 30-Year Mistake
by Ron Paul: The
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in Egypt of late have captured the attention of the world, as many
thousands of Egyptians take to the streets both in opposition to
and in favor of the current regime. We watch from a distance hoping
that events do not spiral further into violence, which will destroy
lives and threaten the livelihoods of average Egyptians caught up
in the political turmoil.
I hope that
Egyptians are able to work toward a more free and just society.
Unfortunately, much of the blame for the unrest in Egypt and the
resulting instability in the region rests with US foreign policy
over the past several decades. The US government has sent more than
$60 billion to the Egyptian regime since the Camp David Accords
in 1978 to purchase stability, including more security for the state
of Israel. We see now the folly of our interventionist foreign policy:
not only has that stability fallen to pieces with the current unrest,
but the years of propping up the corrupt regime in Egypt has led
the people to increase their resentment of both America and Israel!
We are both worse off for decades of intervention into Egypts
internal affairs. I wish I could say that we have learned our lesson
and will no longer attempt to purchase or rent friends
in the Middle East, but I am afraid that is being too optimistic.
Already we see evidence that while the US historically propped up
the Egyptian regime, we also provided assistance to groups opposed
to the regime.
So we have
lost the credibility to claim today that we support the self-determination
of the Egyptian people. Our double-dealing has not endeared us to
Egyptians who now seek to reclaim their independence and national
via foreign aid transfer payments only makes us less safe at home
and less trusted overseas. But the overriding reality is that we
simply cannot afford to continue a policy of buying friends. We
face an ongoing and potentially deepening recession at home so
how can we justify to the unemployed and underemployed in the United
States the incredible cost of maintaining a global empire? Moral
arguments aside, we must stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars
to foreign governments when our own economy is in shambles.
and talking heads repeatedly pose the same loaded questions: Should
the administration encourage the Egyptian president to remain or
to resign? Should the US ensure Mohamed ElBaradei or current vice
president Omar Suleiman succeeds current president Mubarak? The
best answer to these questions is that we should just do nothing,
as Eisenhower did in 1956. We should leave Egypt for Egyptians to
figure out. Some may claim that this is isolationism. Nothing could
be further from the truth. We should enthusiastically engage in
trade and allow travel between countries, but we should stay out
of their internal affairs. We are in fact more isolated from Egypt
now than ever, because the regime we propped up appears to be falling.
We have isolated ourselves from the Egyptian people by propping
up their government, as we isolate ourselves from Tunisians, Israelis,
and other recipients of our foreign aid. Their resentment of our
interventionist policies makes us less safe, because we lose our
authority to conduct meaningful diplomacy when unpopular regimes
fall overseas. We also radicalize those who resented our support
for past regimes.
Let us hope
for a more prosperous and peaceful era for the Egyptians, and let
us learn the lessons of our thirty-year Egyptian mistake.
the Ron Paul File
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.
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