Following the unprecedented crackdown that left more than 500 protesters dead at the hands of the U.S.-funded Egyptian military on Wednesday, President Obama made an official statement condemning the interim government's actions but made no mention of cutting U.S. military aid to the increasingly violent security forces in the country.
Obama's single concession was to cancel an upcoming joint military exercise with Egypt—a move critics are calling superficial and inconsequential in light of the significant financial backing the U.S. government continues to give the Egyptian military.
While we want to sustain our traditional relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back. As a result we've notified the Egyptian government that we are cancelling our joint biannula military exercise which was scheduled for next month. Going forward I have asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we make take as necessary with respect to the US-Egyptian relationship.
The U.S. provides roughly 1.6 billion dollars, including 1.3 billion dollars in sophisticated weaponry, in annual aid to Egypt, an agreement backed with powerful lobbying by the Israeli government and U.S. weapons manufacturers.
"Presidents in Cairo and Washington may come and go, but both the Egyptian military and the contractors that supply them, know that their bond is stronger than democracy."
The flow of money, weapons, and political capital will go unaffected, according to Obama's omission, despite the climbing death toll—525 at last count, with thousands more injured.
Preempting Obama's statement, Pratap Chatterjee wrote Wednesday at CorpWatch Blog that the Obama administration's continued support for the Egyptian military should come as no surprise, considering the decades of military support and the billions of dollars in military contracts involved.
U.S. president Barack Obama has diplomatically chosen to do nothing despite the fact that today’s crackdown on protestors from the Muslim Brotherhood marks the third time that the military government has used deadly force to disperse opposition to the junta. [...]
A large chunk [of aid to Egypt] is conditional on buying U.S. made fighter jets and tanks – Lockheed Martin signed an agreement in 2010 to sell 20 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt by December 2014, under a $2.5 billion deal. Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft sell Egypt CH-47 Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters respectively, while General Dynamics got $395 million in 2011 to assemble Abrams tanks in suburban Cairo. [...]
Presidents in Cairo and Washington may come and go, but both the Egyptian military and the contractors that supply them, know that their bond is stronger than democracy.
On that same note, NPR reported last week:
Every year, the U.S. Congress appropriates more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt. But that money never gets to Egypt. It goes to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then to a trust fund at the Treasury and, finally, out to U.S. military contractors that make the tanks and fighter jets that ultimately get sent to Egypt.
After Obama's comments on Thursday, journalist Spencer Ackerman tweeted:
So a cosmetic military exercise has been canceled; no further concrete steps, policy-wise, today. #Egypt
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) August 15, 2013
And with a similar sentiment:
President announces minimalist consequence for Egypt violence -- cancels Bright Star military exercises but doesn't interrupt aid money
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 15, 2013
Following Obama's statement, the Egyptian government announced that the Egyptian police are authorized to use live ammunition on protesters going forward.