When cell phone package plans meet politics
There are those among us in the Middle East who are not familiar with the term USAID but at least most of us at AUC have seen that sticker on every single computer on campus. Let me tell you what it is just in case you missed it. US is the United States of America, the hegemonic power in our world nowadays; easy, anyone could have guessed it. Don’t praise yourself now; it is the AID part that is tricky.
USAID actually stands for United States Agency for International Development – sounds important to every developing nation but as we go further to unravel its dimensions, we ought to ask this question: did it help any state develop so far? The project has been ongoing for 40 years now, but this is obviously not what you want to read here; these are merely my Googling skills. Now exploring another perfect skill, analyzing.
Why is USAID so important? Word on the street is that if the United States just stops giving us aid, our economy will most certainly decline. Well, that would only be the case if our economy was based on one percent of our GDP – yes this is actually what USAID to Egypt equals. And to add insult to injury, the so-called aid is fixed and restricted to certain sectors that are often not a vital aspect to development. If the aid provided is so limited in both terms, quantity and quality, why is it so important for developing countries?
The answer is simply politics. Aid is just another way to tell some less developed country “I’ve got your back” and that is truly what every country is looking for: pleasing the boss, who in this case is our good old United States of America.
Another question that is necessary to ask is what if support or aid stopped? In other words, what if the USA doesn’t cover your back any more? Think of it as a communications corporation package – you know the ones that give you a number of free minutes and messages probably with internet access for a fixed fee every month. If you are backed up then you are eligible to get one of these packages; and don’t think for a minute that you will be exhausting yourself with endless hours of deciding which package to choose, because the US chooses for you. How cool is that?
But wait, don’t get thrilled before you hear the packages. Most aid was cut during the revolution wave that the Middle East has been undergoing, anyway. Egypt is a country of significant strategic location, although it is short on natural resources, which is why they got the Gold package containing United States full support on the media level. On the other hand, Libya is a country with minor significance in the region’s politics, unlike Egypt, but also unlike Egypt Libya sits on an oil bed which gives it a different material significance, and that is why the US decided to give it the Platinum package, combining the media’s support with military intervention to enforce the support.
There is also the third and final package from the US, which I like to call the Deaf Blind and Mute package and it basically deals with countries that are weak in many aspects. Countries also receiving the the Gold package are Syria and Tunisia, as for the D.B.M. package we find countries like Bahrain, Yemen, and Morocco.
So where do we AUC students fit in all of this other than the stickers we see on our computers? My purpose in writing this article is simply to express awareness that we need to be critical of our policies not only domestically, but internationally as well. This is a time when the entire political structure of Egypt is being reconstructed and it is certainly time to review old deals and what they have meant for Egypt.