When a coup is not a coup

Remember when someone in the White House derided those of us he described as stuck in a “reality-based community”, saying “That’s not the way the world really works anymore, We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality”? Democrats had a field day with that because the speaker was the much-hated Karl Rove at the height of his hubris during the Bush administration. It was taken as symbolic of the arrogance of that administration.

Well, reality denial is back, and in a big way.

We have seen before how ingenious are the lawyers who work for the White House and Justice Department where they cleverly redefined the word torture so that what was clearly torture was no longer so in order to avoid the fact that the US was comitting war crimes. Now they have again shown their value.

The White House was placed in a quandary by the events in Egypt. By any definition, what occurred was clearly a military coup but according to US law, the US cannot provide aid to any country that has had a coup. But the Obama administration clearly wants to continue so their lawyers issued a statement that said that after three weeks of careful deliberation, they had arrived at the conclusion the government does not need to decide whether it is a coup or not. So since they do not have to make a determination, everything is just fine and the aid can continue. Give those lawyers a bonus!

Over at the State Department press briefing, it’s clear from the way she speaks that spokesperson Jen Psaki knows she is talking nonsense and that no one takes what she says seriously.

You may wonder why the administration is so anxious to give away money in these times when there are calls for budget cuts at home. Why aren’t the deficit hawks in the Republican party, who cut food stamps for the poor to supposedly help balance the budget, not seizing on this chance to save even more money?

The fact is that of that $1.55 billion in ‘aid’ to Egypt, $1.3 billion is in the form of military aid that Egypt must use to buy stuff from the US. In other words, the ‘aid’ is a way to siphon taxpayer money to the US defense industry while appearing to have humanitarian motives.

The problem is that even if the U.S. wanted to cut military aid to Egypt, it would be hard to do so without incurring millions of dollars in default penalties. The structure of the aid package—involving cash flow financing, multiyear contracts with potentially steep default fines, and American manufacturing jobs guarded by powerful defense lobby interests—has backed the U.S. into a corner.

It is good to remember that when people talk of US ‘aid’ to other countries, we are almost always talking of subsidies to US companies.

But such plain language is only for those silly people like us who stubbornly continue to live in the reality-based community.