The demonstrations in Egypt are vivid reminders that the United Sates Government cannot afford to ignore and excuse the human rights abuses engaged in by our allies. Unfortunately, that is how we have dealt with Egypt for 30 years.
In 2004, Congressman Lantos offered a crucial amendment to the Foreign Aid bill that would have cut 570 million dollars in military aid to Egypt and instead diverted those resources to economic assistance and support for democratic reform. Tragically, the Administration mobilized all its resources to defeat Congressman Lantos’ amendment. At the time they issued dire warnings about the risk of angering an important Middle East ally.
As we now face the specter of one of the most important countries in the region falling into dangerous and chaotic instability, the wisdom of Tom Lantos’ proposal is clear. The Middle East and the world would be safer today had the U.S. Government used its influence and leverage towards meaningful economic and human rights reforms.
Congressman Lantos understood the hard realities of the world as it is, but he also understood that in the long run, America’s interests would be best served by a foreign policy that reflected our values and stood up for human rights and justice.
We call upon the government of Egypt to respect the rights of its citizens by moving rapidly to respond to their legitimate demands for reform. We also urge our leadership to show strong support for those forces that are seeking responsible democratic and economic change in Egypt. America must not miss this opportunity to be on the right side of history.