The Corner

Saudi Arabia to the Rescue?

Egyptians have been recently rioting over price hikes in their food subsidies and occasional shortages. Four thoughts come to mind:

Since the original Camp David accords, following the Yom Kippur War, the United States in aggregate has given Egypt more than $60 billion in aid, much of it in the form of bulk deliveries of American foodstuffs.

Two, Egypt is one of the most anti-American of the many hostile countries in the Middle East, at least if various opinion polls of popular sentiment have any currency that have consistently shown 60% and more of Egyptians have an unfavorable view of the United States.

Three, the food riots ultimately are prompted by spiraling fuel prices, due to the OPEC cartel price hikes that inflate production costs of almost everything, and the resulting decision elsewhere to divert acreage in the Americas and Europe to produce ethanol.

Four, of the many trillions of dollars that have poured into Iran and the Gulf monarchies following the rise from $23 a barrel to $123 since 2002, very little has been given from brethren Arab states to their poorer neighbors, made even poorer by the petrol-profiteering of those in the Middle East.

It is ironic that we are both paying trillions these past few years in jacked-up oil prices to the Middle East, and still sending billions more in food aid to Egypt at a time when our foodstuffs are in short supply—and still being disliked by those in places like Cairo, whose state-controlled media whips up anti-American sentiment.

What should we do about this? Perhaps a magnanimous speech along the following lines: ‘Because the Arab world has become enriched by spiraling oil prices, the U.S. would like to redirect its food aid to states in the Americas and Africa newly impoverished by soaring fuel and food bills, in recognition that the Middle East now has trillions of dollars in new profits and thus the newfound wherewithal to take care of its own.’

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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