With the US providing nearly one fifth of Egypt’s annual military budget in the form of military aid as well as massive training roles, one would assume they would have enormous influence over the nation’s armed forces. One would, however, be mistaken.
Rather officials concede that the US has had extremely minimal influence over the Egyptian military at a time when that military is on the streets of Cairo contending with a massive uprising. The best they could say is that it has made it easy for the US to get top defense officials on the phone.
But tens of billions of dollars over the past 30 years (indeed $1.3 billion annually) is an awful lot to pay for phone calls, and the Pentagon’s determination to continue those weapons deliveries in the face of government-led crackdowns on protesters and journalists has provided no small measure of embarrassment.
It comes at an important time, however, and demonstrates once again that foreign military aid is not a reliable way to “buy” influence. With Congress reexamining the foreign aid budget in the face of a massive deficit, this can only be another argument against such entangling deals.