Thursday August 8, 2013
When the Obama administration announced on July 25 that it was free to violate U.S. law by continuing to finance the Egyptian military to the tune of $1.5 billion annually, even though it was responsible for overthrowing the democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup d'tat on July 3, the message was understood loud and clear in Cairo. Two days later, the Egyptian military massacred over 70 demonstrators who were protesting Morsi's ouster.
The commander of the Egyptian armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had sought a "mandate" for the military's actions, calling on supporters of the coup to take to the streets in a show of support. "Although he has vowed to lead Egypt through a democratic transition," Robert Springborg pointed out in the journal Foreign Affairs, "there are plenty of indications that he is less than enthusiastic about democracy and that he intends to hold on to political power himself."
The response from the U.S. Congress and the White House to the massacre was nevertheless that there remained little interest in complying with U.S. law and cutting off the aid. The editors of the New York Times weighed in that "American military aid to Egypt should not be cut off", despite this being a requirement of U.S. law. The Times nonsensically added that "Washington’s leverage" to prevent such violence "has been limited, despite $1.5 billion in annual military aid". The editors didn't bother to even attempt to explain why $1.5 billion didn't amount to a great deal of leverage, indeed.