Egypt shows why you can’t buy friendship

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The United States bribed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and his predecessors for decades, giving their government up to $1.3 billion annually to help maintain a well-equipped military. Our stated objective was to insure stability in the region. Stability is code for “hold the people down, keep the Suez Canal open, and honor the treaty with Israel.”

Media coverage brought attention to our flawed policy when the people of Egypt took to the streets and huge crowds demanding the immediate resignation of Mubarak refused to leave Tahrir Square. Who can blame Egyptians for wanting freedom, honest elections and a better quality of life? Western sentiment was clearly with the protesters in their quest for freedom.

The steadfast demonstrations gave President Barack Obama the choice of continuing the verbal and economic support of an unscrupulous dictator or siding with the Egyptian people in their quest for freedom.

Obama promptly threw Mubarak under the bus, much to the disappointment of some U.S. military leaders and Department of State officials. His action was even more unpopular with political leaders in Israel and several shaky dictators in the Middle East and North Africa. Several of these monarchs and dictators are plagued by serious civil unrest and major economic problems.

Our country has a habit of losing respect and credibility because of flawed foreign policies. Donald Trump, real estate mogul and television personality, recently asked an interesting question, “Why don’t the countries on our payroll do what we tell them?”

His answer is, “Because they have lost respect.”

Trump’s assessment is correct. You can’t buy friendship by putting foreign countries on the payroll or signing trade agreements that significantly favor the other side.

The good news in the Egyptian fiasco is that our President supported freedom. The bad news is nothing has changed. The Egyptian military took control of the country, suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and will soon begin rounding up opposition leaders who might be a threat to the new regime.

The commanding generals are making rosy promises of honest elections but their commitment to freedom remains in doubt. This writer remembers when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro overthrew Batista in 1959 while singing the praises of democracy and espousing the virtues of freedom. He promised honest elections and even sponsored freedom parades in Havana.

Hoodwinked Cubans were overjoyed until Castro consolidated power and they realized elections were a sham. Castro was a classic pro communist dictator and an enemy of freedom … just 95 miles from our Florida shoreline. This is the scenario that will likely unfold across the globe in Egypt.

Another Egyptian leader will emerge and follow the footsteps of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak who all came to power through the military ranks. The question is whether the “new Mubarak” will be controlled by the United States or will partner with radical Islamists groups which espouse hate toward our country.

How will the Egyptian game be played in the next few months? Obama made the first offer. The United States will continue to pay $1.3 billion to Egypt in the interest of freedom and regional stability.

It will be interesting to see if the Muslim Brotherhood folds, raises the ante, or calls in the poker game that will determine Egypt’s future.

One of the most troubling pieces of information reported by the press was the revelation that Hosni Mubarak may be the richest man in the world with an estimated fortune between $50 and $70 billion.

He could have paid for the Egyptian military with the interest earned on his stolen loot while saving the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars that could be better used protecting our Mexican border.

We tried to buy friendship and lost again.

Enough said!

[Scott Bradshaw, a resident of Peachtree City, is a real estate broker and residential real estate developer. He may be contacted at rand5474@bellsouth.net.]