Monday, January 31, 2011

When talk wasn't enough

Skimming through this post, I ran across the following:
In June 2005 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the American University of Cairo and pleaded with President Mubarak to allow free elections in Egypt.... Rice’s speech occurred more than five years ago. It was ignored. Authoritarian Middle Eastern governments soldiered on.
Of course Rice's plea was ignored. Pleas of this kind that don't come coupled with hints or threats to cut aid -- in this case some of the $1.3 billion annually in mostly military/security aid that the U.S. has been giving the Mubarak government for years -- are easy to ignore (cf. U.S. pleas to Israel over the years to stop settlement activity, etc.). Now one can hardly blame the Bush administration too much for not being especially eager, in June 2005, to pick a fight with Mubarak and his supporters in Congress and elsewhere, since the Bush admin's misguided invasion of Iraq had gone disastrously awry and it needed a fight with a major regional ally like a hole in the head. Still, it is not surprising that Rice's speech had no discernible effect. Talk matters, but there are times when it isn't enough.


hank_F_M said...


A good point,

I thought that the aid pacage to Egypt was an implict part of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

Which could make using it a leverage to influcne behavior porblematic

LFC said...

You're right, it was an implicit part of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. But did it come with an understanding that it was to last for decades? Perhaps. The question is what would have happened if the U.S. had tried to use it as leverage. I guess we'll never know. And it's a moot point now, as I see Mubarak is saying he won't run in the Sept. elections.