August 25, 2013

Barney Frank: Egyptian factions neither require nor deserve U.S. intervention

The conflict is internal and we simply cannot help. We also should not try to punish by withdrawing aid.

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Nor should we cut off our military aid at this point. No American decision to cut off military aid would deter the generals from their determination to wage war on their internal opponents.

That aid is payment on a contract made among Egypt, Israel, and the U.S. in 1979 to end hostilities. Every Egyptian government since 1979 has lived up to its commitment to maintain peace with Israel. If Israel comes to doubt the durability of that commitment, there is no chance of any Israeli government taking the further risks necessary for an Arab-Israeli peace agreement. That is why we continued the flow of money despite the generally dismal record of all the Egyptian governments on human rights since then. And it is why we should continue to do so.

Ending the aid would undercut John Kerry's great work on the peace process, while doing nothing to restrain the Egyptian military, given its conviction that it is in an existential war with the Islamists.

The use of the phrase "silver lining" is far too light-hearted to be appropriate in this great tragedy, but there is one positive lesson we should draw from what is happening now in Egypt. There are very real limits to what America or any other outside nation can accomplish in a situation of violent internal turmoil.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts. You can follow him on Twitter:

@BarneyFrank

 

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