U.S. State Department training Mubarak’s would-be successors
Wasn’t the Egyptian revolution supposed to be about getting rid of an American-backed dictator? Well, the Egyptians may have gotten rid of the dictator but the Americans appear to be there to stay. Writing in Foreign Policy , Josh Rogin confirms that the U.S. State Department is now schooling Mubarak’s would-be successors in the ways of liberal democracy:
U.S. assistance to Egypt is helping political parties of all ideologies prepare for the upcoming elections — even Islamic parties that may have anti-Western agendas.
“We don’t do party support. What we do is party training…. And we do it to whoever comes,” William Taylor, the State Department’s director of its new office for Middle East Transitions, said in a briefing with reporters today. “Sometimes, Islamist parties show up, sometimes they don’t. But it has been provided on a nonpartisan basis, not to individual parties.”
The programs, contracted through the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), include helping political parties in Egypt conduct polling, provide constituent services, and prepare for election season. NDI’s chairwoman is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. IRI’s chairman is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
This, of course, is not the first time that newly-liberated peoples have received such generous support from the National Endowment for Democracy to help them make the expected democratic transition:
Taylor led a similar office in the 1990s that coordinated policy in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. He is pressing for $2 billion in new aid to Egypt, half in loans and half in debt forgiveness, but acknowledged that the U.S. fiscal situation is not nearly as good now as it was then.
“This is a tight time on budgets here, as we all know. And when [State Department spokeswoman] Toria [Nuland] and I worked together earlier, we had a lot more money to put in to the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe,” he said. “Now, that having been said, we recognize that there are other countries that are eager to provide support, and we support that.”
Victoria Nuland is the wife of Robert Kagan, the influential pro-Israeli hawk who, as a February 12 New York Times report noted, “long before the revolution helped assemble a nonpartisan group of policy experts to press for democratic change in Egypt.”
Plus ça change…