Stop Wasting $110B a Year on These Turkeys

As Arabs spread democracy, we prop up Afghan, Pakistan regimes
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2011 8:43 AM CST
Thomas Friedman: Stop Wasting $100 Billion a Year on Afghanistan, Pakistan Regimes
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.   (AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta)

(Newser) – Democracy is on the march across the Arab world, so "What are we doing spending $110 billion this year supporting corrupt and unpopular regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are almost identical to the governments we’re applauding the Arab people for overthrowing?" asks Thomas Friedman in the New York Times. The problem, he says, is that the authoritarian governments that run most of the Middle East liked the specter of radical Islam, finding it a useful excuse to justify their harsh rule. They claim to be fighting violent extremism, but in reality, "they are nurturing the devil."

But now, the moderate, democratic uprisings around the Middle East are changing that equation. "In other words, the Arab peoples have done for free, on their own and for their own reasons, everything that we were paying their regimes to do in the 'war on terrorism' but they never did." To Friedman, the evidence is clear—it is time for the United States to stop funding the corrupt governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Instead, America needs to "divert some of the $110 billion we’re lavishing on the Afghan regime and the Pakistani Army and use it for debt relief, schools, and scholarships to US universities for young Egyptians and Tunisians who had the courage to take down the very kind of regimes we’re still holding up in Kabul and Islamabad." (Read more Thomas Friedman stories.)

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