By a vote of 79-19, an amendment to the debt limit bill offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was rejected by the Senate. The Paul amendment would have prohibited the U.S. government from selling F-16 jet fighters, M1A1 tanks, and similar military weapons to the Egyptian government.
Prior to the vote, Senator Paul took to the floor to explain his bill. He began by questioning the wisdom of sending “our most sophisticated fighter planes” to a country whose government is believed by many to be in danger of “unraveling.”
Paul is right. The head of Egypt’s armed forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, warns that the week-long widespread civil unrest that has resulted in the death of 52 people threatens to bring down the Mohamed Morsi regime.
Sisi wrote on the army’s Facebook page, “The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces … over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of state."
The irony of this instability is, as Paul correctly identifies, the fact that similar dissatisfaction with totalitarianism and martial law inspired the Arab Spring only a year ago. Now, those same people who united to overthrow a government bent on instituting martial law, are threatened with persecution by leaders of the new government.
Paul reminded his colleagues that as government-backed mayhem pushes Egypt toward the brink of dictatorship and abrogation of all civil liberties, President Obama’s response is “to send them some of the most sophisticated weapons we have: F-16 fighters and Abrams tanks.”
Beyond the political, there is the religious component of Cairo’s chaos cocktail. As Senator Paul explained, “Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that ‘Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs.' This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.”
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