Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

By: Wesley Long

Advocates of rational foreign policy celebrated legislative victories earlier this week with the passage, in the House of Representatives, of amendments limiting potential U.S. military involvement in Syria and Egypt.  As explained in this article from the McClatchy Washington Bureau, Representative Trey Radel’s (R-FL) amendment on Syria would:

“Forbid any military action in Syria if it violates the War Powers Resolution – which requires the president to consult Congress before committing U.S. forces to battle or placing them in situations where hostilities are imminent.”

A similar amendment, sponsored by Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), limits U.S. military involvement in Egypt, Massie commented:

“Since our national security interests in Syria and Egypt are unclear, we risk giving money and military assistance to our enemies… The Constitution prohibits the president from unilaterally spending American taxpayer dollars on military operations without congressional approval.”

Perhaps most encouragingly, both of these common-sense amendments received bi-partisan support from a somewhat unique coalition of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, passing by voice vote.

In spite of these rebukes of its Egyptian policy from the legislature, the executive branch has not demonstrated a capacity to consider altering its policy toward Egypt.  Instead, the administration has unilaterally decided to continue, unimpeded, the flow of U.S. Taxpayer money to the tumultuous nation currently held together by a military junta.  The President and his advisors have essentially taken a cop-out from making a decision on continued aid to Egypt, in the wake of the coup d’état in early July and continued mass protests.  The New York Times cites a senior administration official as stating:

“The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”

“‘We will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say,’ the official said.”

Under different circumstances, such a statement could be welcome.  The United States is certainly not obligated to take a side or make a ruling on any instance of political instability in the world.  Under the current status quo, however, wherein the United States sends Egypt’s government on average approximately 2 billion dollars per annum, and where federal law prohibits sending US aid to countries where there is a coup, the administration should make a ruling - preferably one in which they would stop throwing money at complex problems, hoping to make them disappear.

It is utterly ludicrous that the administration’s default setting on foreign aid is to continue the practice indefinitely and unconditionally, avoiding entirely even a dialogue concerning whether Egypt's military is more deserving of government funds than the taxpayers who earned them!  If we're unsure about the legitimacy of Egyptian military governance, or the effectiveness of our aid, would it not be more responsible to suspend the practice?  Especially when doing so may very well violate American law?

The United States should not, and cannot afford, to be the world’s police.  Campaign for Liberty will continue fighting against unconstitutional military adventurism and wasteful aid programs.

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