Do Americans, even in anxious times, prefer an optimistic leader or an angry one?
Pop quiz: Which country, over the last 30 years, has received the second biggest amount of U.S. foreign aid?
If you said Egypt, you should move to the head of the class.
Other than Israel, it’s been at the top of the list, hauling in $2 billion a year, on average.
It’s fallen a little bit as of late. In 2009, it got $1.6 billion, of which $1.3 billion was military aid. And its rank fell to fifth in 2009, behind Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
But still it gets a ton from the United States, despite Egypt’s a horrendous human rights record. “Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread in police cells, security police detention centers and prisons, and in most cases were committed with impunity,” according to Amnesty International’s 2010 annual report.
Egyptian authorities managed to highlight this horrendous human rights record over the last week or so.
On June 6th, two plain clothes police officers brutally beat up a 28-year-old Egyptian man named Khaled Said in an Internet café in Alexandria, and then dragged him out into the street and continued to beat him until he died.
Pictures of Said’s pummeled face circulated widely on the Internet. I saw them myself. They’re hideous.
Last Sunday, a couple hundred brave Egyptians gathered to protest Said’s death outside the ministry of justice in Cairo. Some even dared to hold signs that said “Down with Hosni Mubarak,” the strongman who has ruled that country for 29 years now, with the blessings of Washington.
Egyptian security forces, sensitive as always, wailed on these protesters and then rounded up several dozen of them.
It’s an ongoing scandal that we subsidize Egyptian repression.
That subsidy has got to come to an end.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
If you liked this article by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive, check out his article on the Gaza flotilla attack: "Israel Has Lost Its Mind--And Its Soul."