Military Aid to Egypt Preserved for Rent-Seekers

John Glaser, March 26, 2012

The questions of whether or not to continue sending military aid to Egypt briefly occupied the power centers in Washington last week. Some in the Senate argued it isn’t good to aid undemocratic regimes who harm their own people. And then it was remembered that such programs are important welfare for American corporations and workers. New York Times:

A delay or a cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign and involved significant financial penalties, according to officials involved in the debate.

…The companies involved include Lockheed Martin, which is scheduled to ship the first of a batch of 20 new F-16 fighter jets next month, and General Dynamics, which last year signed a $395 million contract to deliver component parts for 125 Abrams M1A1 tanks that are being assembled at a plant in Egypt.

“In large part, there are U.S. jobs that are reliant on the U.S.-Egypt strong military-to-military relationship,” a senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under rules set by the department. In deciding how to proceed, the official said, Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues “were looking at our overall national security goals, as well as any domestic issues.”

Yes, military aid to Egypt propped up a dictatorship for decades, continues to help thwart democracy, and empowers the state to brutalize its own people – but we’ve got an economy to run! Lockheed needs those dollars, Americans need those jobs!

The military-industrial-congressional complex uses these same kinds of rationales for never cutting defense budgets, as was evidenced in recent months. See here for why defense spending-as-job-creation is bunk.