Suspending aid won’t help Egypt or the United States during this critical period. And here’s why.

It’s Just Not Logical

Beginning in the early 1980s, the United States provided billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to an Egyptian regime that abused human rights, tortured and imprisoned thousands of political prisoners, and ran a deep state that made a mockery of real politics. There was no pretense of democracy in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt (or in Anwar Sadat’s for that matter).

The United States had cut a devil’s bargain. In exchange for Egypt’s continuing its peace treaty with Israel and supporting other U.S. policies in the region, the United States gave Mubarak a broad pass on human rights and political reform and solidified the deal with aid. It was a bargain designed to perpetuate stability, and it proved to be a false stability. But it lasted a long time.

Egypt now has real politics, however messy, and millions of people are participating in those politics. So how can the United States now justify suspending that assistance when Egypt is in the process of democratizing, even with all the concerns about the military’s motives and heavy-handedness? How many countries have changed their governments through popular will expressed via street demonstrations twice in 18 months without massive violence?