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Military Aid, an Ubiquitous Euphemism
The military industrial complex: foreign policy driven by the defense base
A recent Antiwar news article titled "US to Shift Some Military Aid from Egypt to Taiwan" begins:
The US will withhold $85 million in annual military aid to Egypt and redirect some of the funds to Taiwan, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
The $85 million the US is withholding over human rights abuses is just a small portion of the $1.3 billion in military aid Egypt receives from the US each year.
The $85 million is in the form of Foreign Military Financing, a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to purchase US arms. According to CNN, Egypt receives $1 billion in FMF annually, and $320 million of those funds is conditional and tied to human rights issues.
This $300 to $320 million fraction of $1300 million (17%) has been "conditional" since 2021, creating an opportunity for different factions of the Democrats and their lobbyists to argue over tying "military aid" to "human rights". Back in 2021 Al Jazeera reporter Joseph Stepansky wrote:
While rights groups have called for a complete funding overhaul, Congress has annually passed legislation placing human rights restrictions on $300m of the annual aid, requiring the State Department in recent years to seek a waiver, usually citing national security, to justify releasing the funds.
Four and a half months later in early 2022 the NYT declared that the "dispute" was "won" by the side advocating gift reduction which resulted in $130 million not being delivered.
It was the first time that a secretary of state did not issue a formal national security waiver to provide the aid, and was aimed at pressuring officials in Cairo to release political prisoners and stop persecuting critics.
Aiding a Junta
Which was more surprising? That the coup d'etat installed military junta in Egypt were torturing and locking up activists and journalists without trial to crack down on dissent or that they were to receive over a billion USD of US military aid even after the "human rights" motivated cut backs?
Egypt was ruled by its fifth president Mohamed Morsi after the "Arab Spring" from June 2012 to July 2013 when a coup d'etat was necessary to restore rule by the nation's military junta. The tiny 10% aberration in US foreign military "aid" to Egypt occurred when the junta was back in power under the current leader el-Sisi.
The NYT article, which Antiwar cited at the beginning of its coverage on this topic, had the sub-title "Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken overruled congressional restrictions on U.S. military aid tied to Egypt’s dismal human rights record". One could ask why this US funding to a foreign junta is so reliable?
[From page 7 or the Congressional Research Service background for the latest round of congressional funding. Underlining is by this author.]
What does the US obtain from this largess? Where does Egypt sit among recipients of "military aid"? To continue to quote the NYT article:
Egypt has received an average of $1.6 billion in U.S. aid a year since 1979, and most of that is military aid. It's a price the U.S. has been willing to pay since the Camp David Accords in 1978 in order to keep the peace between Egypt and Israel. The money also benefits the U.S. military-industrial complex, as UCLA history professor James Gelvin told Al Jazeera: "The United States does not give money to Egypt for military equipment; it gives the Egyptian military a list of equipment the American government will purchase on its behalf in the United States.
[Emphasis in the quote above by this author. James Gelvin is a Professor of History at UCLA specializing in modern middle eastern history. He has published 7 books, including"The Modern Middle East: A History" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004) which is so well regarded it is in its fifth edition.]
Gelvin's description undermines the term "aid". The US is using tax-payer funds to maintain access to and some of the inventory of the Egyptian armed forces. Given that the government is a junta, this is also political support. Neither Egypt nor Israel are members of NATO. These public funds maintain relations, both political and military with the most populous country in the Middle East/north Africa based historically on protecting Israel after the 1979 the Camp David accords. Given that the US also provides arms via “aid” to Israel, one may scratch one’s head ask how arming both sides across the Sinai assisting in keeping the peace?
To which nations does the USA direct its foreign military "aid"?
[These numbers published by statista are also echoed in a report from US News & World Report. Obviously, things have changed since 2020, with Afghanistan falling way down the list and Ukraine now topping it. There are two constants though. Israel and Egypt are always close to the top.]
One could also ask which components of the USA's total "aid" are military or political? The Council on Foreign Relations from their 2018 article shows that military and political aid combines to 44% exceeding the 42% for "Long-term development aid ... More than half of this goes to bilateral health programs" which leaves humanitarian aid (how do health programs not count as humanitarian aid?) at 14%.
What these numbers demonstrate is that the total foreign aid budget is a pittance compared to the USA's budget for their Department of Defence (a few billions versus the 800+ billions) and that this pittance is dominated by military (33%) and political influence (11%) spending (summing to the 44% listed above). The US foreign "aid" budget is a strategic component of the USA's ally relationships, providing access to airspace, ports, and bases, and supporting one of its dominant industry sectors, weapons systems production. This intertwining of cross-party tax-funded subsidies for this industry and its inter-relationship with strategic diplomatic and military relations is what President Eisenhower was refering to in his 1961 farewell address when he coined the phrase Military Industrial
The term "military aid" is a terrible misnomer, an ubiquitous euphemism. Its common usage forces such an astute news editor as Dave DeCamp from Antiwar to use it in the headline for the article which began this exploration.
Interoperability as Glue
I wish to highlight one more barb on the US ally hook, that of interoperability. Once a nation chooses to accept inventories of US purchased US defense base produced weapons the questions of interoperability and training will arise. These two combined are the lifeblood of the funding spigot which congress turns on. Once an armed forces' personnel are trained in these military systems, changing weapons suppliers outside of the NATO tent becomes very costly and leads to a period of reduced efficacy of one's military. This motivates the military leadership to maintain the systems and thus the political alignment which provides access to them and the corresponding maintenance contracts. A nation must win a political fight with its own military leadership to escape even if better or cheaper defense systems alternatives are available. Finding out about them may be even more difficult.
Targets and Objectives
Over at Consortium News Barbara Koeppel's "Westmoreland Revisited" article has a subtitle which finishes stating that she:
"concludes that Washington has not learned any lessons from failed wars in Vietnam, and later Iraq and Afghanistan"
In fact, what she carefully details in the article is that the stupid statements being wheeled out repeatedly on the US' compliant corporate media are being made by people who currently, or are almost certain soon to have ties to the US' defense industries. The sub-title, perhaps by Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria, leads one away from a more natural conclusion. It not that these people are stupid, but that victory is not their goal. That goal is, as Koeppel clearly demonstrates, profits for the arms industries.
Having understood this, one can again return to Eisenhower and see that the US' foreign policy is run by these business interests rather than the other way around, which is exactly what the president meant when he used the phrase "influence, whether sought or unsought". A component of the US' executive branch as important as foreign policy is being driven by the defense contracting corporations. There is no "foreign military aid". There are subsidies for US businesses labeled by Pope Francis as "blood soaked arms manufacturers" who right now are continuing to add to the tally of 400 000 dead Ukrainians, risking world war III, and God forbid, a nuclear war in the process.
Koeppel's article is so well researched and constructed that it demands to be quoted at length:
Drawing from the Westmoreland playbook, on Aug. 14, Phillip M. Breedlove, a retired four-star U.S. Air Force general and go-to authority in New York Times pieces, said “we have not given Ukraine the tools it needs” — although as of this month, the U.S. had sent nearly $77 billion in humanitarian, financial and mostly military aid. Breedlove also touted Ukraine’s military as “one of the best equipped and most battle-tested in Europe.”
Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former special assistant to the chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (Gen. Colin Powell), told the podcast Dialogue Works, that:
“as a military professional, it’s clear to me the war has been a recipe for complete defeat. Any military expert not paid by the media or isn’t stupid knows this is an uneven contest even with NATO throwing everything it can except its own soldiers into the battle. Yet we’re backing them to the last dead Ukrainian. … The Ukrainians are surely fighting for the things all of us would fight for. But we’re cheating them because they’re not going to win. Look how many people they’re losing. From that you don’t recover.”
Furthermore, Wilkerson says “it was hogwash that Putin threatened the rest of Europe. We and London played that up because we thought that would solidify NATO. This is dangerous.”
JFK stressed diplomacy, as does Wilkerson, who says “it would work if people were serious about it. But they’re not because they make too much money off these wars — money that goes into U.S. political coffers and into Moscow’s oligarchs’ coffers.”
This domination of US foreign policy by its "defense base" is not intractable. It, and the equivalent financial sanctions packages, and information warfare which are other components of the US's Hybrid War strategy are fueling an alignment against the US and its NATO vassals.
BRICS+, the SCO, the EAEU and other multi-lateral bodies have been succeeding in breaking free of the mechanisms of dominance employed by the US and its corporate complexes. Recently, we’ve seen even French African nominally independent neocolonial outposts asserting their independence as they feel geopolitical freedom blowing in wind. The policy enforced on NATO by the US during the engineered conflict in Ukraine has backfired, as has the latest US directed Ukrainian "counter-offensive". Their collective political self-entrapment will keep their pieces pinned to board positions while other nations sense a freedom to move.
The people behind this insane US foreign policy position on Ukraine do not care one whit about Ukrainian lives or, it seems, preserving US influence. They are complicit in their indirect murder of a generation of Ukrainian young men. One does not have to twist one’s vision far to see this as engineering a genocide. This is ironic because the Nazi’s among the Ukrainian forces they are exploiting to run a proxy war against Russia wanted to execute a genocide on the eastern Ukrainian Russian speaking and ethnic population. It may be that these western war profiteers are ignorant of the international forces which are aligning to de-thrown the US from its hegemony, for the idiots read their own, old media. They are happily stuck in personally profitable and nationally self-destructive group-think.
The first step for the US gain traction on regaining control over its foreign policy is the same as that for gaining control over other areas of US policy. While struggling over one policy aspect, Harvard Constitutional Law Professor Lawrence Lessig spoke with a young Aaron Schwartz, inventor of RSS, Creative Commons and other innovations. Schwartz informed Lessig that until campaign finance reforms were effected no political campaign on any issue could succeed. This, following Schwartz' tragic suicide contributed to by the persecution from the Massachusetts public prosecutor, may have inspired Lessig to run as a US presidential candidate in the US 2016 presidential election.
I expect he knew he would fail before he actually began. But he ran anyway, perhaps to learn more of the nature of the methods of political exclusion enforced by the two-part uniparty and their media allies.
The problem remains. The policy problems will also remain. The mislabeling of arms industry subsidies as foreign aid will remain too, until the US reverts to something closer to a citizens democracy than a fascist kleptocracy.
US to Shift Some Military Aid from Egypt to Taiwan, Dave DeCamp, Antiwar, 2023-09-14
US to place conditions on fraction of aid to Egypt: US media, Joseph Stepansky, Al Jazeera, 2021-09-14
U.S. Blocks $130 Million in Aid for Egypt Over Rights Abuses, Lara Jakes and Mona El-Naggar, NYT, 2022-01-28
Choosing Security Over Rights, U.S. Approves $235 Million in Egypt Aid, Michael Crowley and Vivian Yee, NYT, 2023-09-14
U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical, Recent Trends, and the FY2024 Background Request, [US] Congressional Research Service, 2023-08-15
Professor James Gelvin (born February 12, 1951)
Where U.S. Military Aid Is Going, Katharina Buchholz, statista, 2022-01-20
10 Countries That Received the Most U.S. Military Aid in 2020, Sharon Lurye, U.S. News & World Report, 2022-05-18
Population, total - Middle East & North Africa, World Bank, 2022
How Does the U.S. Spend Its Foreign Aid?, James McBride, Council on Foreign Relations, 2018-10-01
NATO member countries, NATO
Westmoreland Revisited, Barbara Koeppel, Consortium News, 2023-09-15
Restructuring of the Russian Army | Col. Larry Wilkerson, Dialogue Works, 2023-08-30
Note: I was impressed by Dialogue Works which provided an important reference for Koeppel’s article. They also publish at Rumble. At Youtube their interviews are indexed. Interview publications include transcripts. Recent interviewees include:
Richard Wolff, Michael Brenner, Larry Johnson, Andrei Martyanov, Matthew Hoh, Dimitri Orlov, Paul Craig Roberts, Col. Larry Wilkerson, Col. Ann Wright, Scott Ritter, and Jeffrey Sachs.
Aaron Swartz's Prosecutor Just Got More Evil, Rebecca Greenfield, The Atlantic, 2013-03-14
Lessig remembers Swartz, Colleen Walsh, The Harvard Gazette, 2013-02-25
We the People, and the Republic we must reclaim ｜ Lawrence Lessig, Lawrence Lessig, TED, 2013-04-03
Your Latest Trick (Remastered 1996), Dire Straights (from their 1985 album "Brothers in Arms"), Dire Straights, uploaded 2021-05-03
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