Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Then She Danced the Hoochie-Coochie for the Pleasure of the Sheikh 

Courtesy of our distinguished colleague Prometheus 6: Renowned exporter of American values Condi Rice sends a strong message, to wit: Do as we say, not as we do. Or . . . okay, then, do as we do, but at least try to make it look like . . . oh, fuck it, just take the goddam money:
EGYPTIAN FOREIGN Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit couldn't conceal his smug satisfaction as he stood next to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at a news conference in Cairo last week. In the past, Mr. Aboul Gheit fumed in such situations as Ms. Rice spoke out about the need for Egypt to move toward democracy or criticized the unjust imprisonment of liberal reformers such as Ayman Nour. Now he watched as, at the prompting of an Egyptian state television reporter, Ms. Rice acknowledged that the Bush administration had quietly waived a congressional hold on $100 million in military aid to Egypt.

The government of Hosni Mubarak hasn't come close to meeting the conditions Congress attached to the money, which are that it protect the independence of the judiciary, stop police abuses and curtail arms smuggling from Egypt to Gaza. In testimony to Congress last month, Margaret Scobey, the nominee to be ambassador to Egypt, said "the government's respect for human rights remains poor, and serious abuses continue." That was an understatement: In fact, the Mubarak government has sought to crush all proponents of democratic liberalization, from a movement of judges to crusaders such as Mr. Nour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who has been exiled from Egypt since he shook President Bush's hand at a conference of democratic dissidents last year . . . .

Yet three years after Mr. Bush promised the world's democratic reformers that the United States would stand with them, the administration has so reversed itself that it joins Mr. Mubarak in rejecting restrictions attached by Congress to aid money. Ms. Rice said the administration used a waiver built into the legislation so the Egyptian military will get the full $1.3 billion allocated by the administration this year . . . . Lamely, she said she had talked about the need for reform with the foreign minister during their private meeting.
Plainly America's stature in the world has dwindled. Why, we remember a time when foreign leaders would not have dared to humiliate our emissaries in public until they were absolutely certain that the check had cleared.

UPDATE: But that was back in the day, when foreign leaders looked forward to receiving checks payable in dollars.

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