By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The violence in the Middle East has renewed questions about which countries get U.S. foreign aid and whether they deserve it.
Some House conservatives wanted to strip foreign aid to Libya and Egypt from a six-month funding bill set for a vote today. That's not going to happen because it was too late for any changes to this bill.
Nonetheless, some Republicans are questioning if the U.S. should keep giving money to countries run by "radical Islamists" such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Others say before handing out aid, the U.S. should make sure Libya is helping with the investigation into the attack and murder of our ambassador and three other Americans.
But not everyone agrees. According to The Hill newspaper, senior House Republican David Dreier of California says it would be a "big mistake" to cut funding to Libya and Egypt. Dreier says it's essential now more than ever to "strengthen ties with these fledgling democracies."
It's worth pointing out that as millions of Americans suffer under a weak economy, our government is sending lots of money we don't have overseas to other countries. U.S. foreign aid to Egypt is about $1.5 billion a year. That's second only to Israel.
And Mohamed Morsy, the new Egyptian president, didn't even apologize for the attacks on the embassy in Cairo until today, two days after they happened. That tells us quite a bit.
The U.S. had withheld aid to Egypt this past year when the government was cracking down on protesters. Now a decision will have to be made whether to do it again.
Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. halt foreign aid to Libya and Egypt?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Mitt Romney may have done himself in.
At the very least, the Republican candidate for president likely damaged his chances of being elected by the way he reacted to the violence in Egypt and Libya.
Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast suggests Romney's response makes him "unfit" for the responsibility of running the country.
Sullivan lays out the reasons why he thinks Romney should be disqualified from being president.
Including Romney's knee-jerk judgments, based on ideology not reality, his inability to back down when he said something wrong and his argument that President Obama sympathized with the murderers of America's ambassador to Libya.
Criticizing America's Commander-in-Chief while U.S. interests were still under attack, and Americans were dying, comes off as amateur and un-presidential, and might just be political suicide for Romney.
It's times like these when an unguarded comment can leave a lasting impression.
Compare Romney's response to how the 1980 Republican candidates for president reacted to the Iran hostage crisis under President Carter's watch.
As The Atlantic points out, when news broke that an effort to rescue the American hostages from the Tehran embassy failed Ronald Reagan said, "This is the time for us as a nation and a people to stand united."
George H.W. Bush went even further, saying he "unequivocally" supported carter and it wasn't a time to "try to go one-up politically."
Mitt Romney has been around long enough to know better.
Here’s my question to you: Did Mitt Romney kill his own chances of becoming president with his reaction to the violence in Egypt and Libya?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
So much for the Arab Spring.
The wave of protests that swept parts of the Middle East and North Africa - in which the people fought to oust dictators - doesn't seem to have brought many of them any closer to a peaceful society.
Libya and Egypt are but the latest examples.
Years from now Historians might even trace the origin of the arab spring to the decision of George W. Bush to attack Iraq in the wake of 9/11:
Go in, overthrow a dictator, turn the country over to the people and nirvana will surely follow.
But violence continues in Iraq and people die there every day.
Egypt's now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak is gone, they had elections and yesterday violent mobs assaulted the U.S. Embassy compound.
In Libya, Moammar Gadhafi is gone and the U.S. Ambassador and three other people are dead. Because some terrorists in that country didn't like a movie that was critical of Islam.
Syria's become a slaughterhouse with the dictator Assad hanging on and murdering the civilian population at will.
Iran continues its march toward nuclear weapons - I don't even want to think what might happen if they get them.
And al Qaeda is busy reconstituting itself in Pakistan and half a dozen other countries.
The songwriter who wrote the lyrics "Wishing won't make it so" was spot on.
And anybody who thinks the Middle East is going to suddenly transform itself into a peaceful civilization where the majority rules hasn't been reading the history books.
Here’s my question to you: Was the Arab Spring worth it?
The violence in Libya has suddenly yanked the spotlight off the economy and put it squarely on foreign policy as far as the U.S. presidential campaign is concerned.
Mitt Romney is slamming President Obama for his administration's response to angry mobs attacking U.S. diplomatic buildings in the Middle East.
Romney said that a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was like an apology, calling it "disgraceful to apologize for American values." Other Republicans are jumping in, blasting the president's "failed foreign policy of appeasement and apology."
The White House has disavowed the embassy statement, saying it did not approve the statement. In it, the Cairo embassy condemned "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." This all goes back to a film produced in the United States that some Muslims found offensive.
Meanwhile the president condemned the attacks and said we must "unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence" that took the lives of four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
The president's campaign said Romney is using the tragic events for political gain.
Others agree that Romney may have jumped the gun with his response.
Sen. John Kerry called Romney's remarks irresponsible, inexperienced and reckless. He said Romney was wrong to weigh in before all the facts are known.
As for voters, they tend to trust the president more on foreign policy. A CNN/ORC International Poll released this week showed President Barack Obama with a 54%-42% advantage over Romney.
Here’s my question to you: How will the meltdown in the Middle East affect the U.S. presidential election?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Two weeks ago – nobody estimated the size of the story that was unfolding in Cairo. And I'm not sure anybody still does.
It's entirely possible that what we've been seeing on our TV screens for the last two weeks could reach far beyond the borders of Egypt.
There are already rumblings across the Middle East that something much larger is happening.
If and when Mubarak steps down - he'll be following Tunisia's president, who was pushed out of power last month after similar popular uprisings.
Yemen's president has said he won't seek re-election when his term is up - and that he won't hand power over to his son.
And, after calls for reform - Jordan's King Abdullah sacked his whole government and appointed a new prime minister.
Meanwhile - protests, facilitated by technology like Facebook and Twitter, have sprung up everywhere from Algeria to Sudan and Syria.
It seems that after decades of repression in some of these countries... the people are finally being heard.
Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked about a possible domino effect in the region. He described what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt as a "spontaneous manifestation of discontent" coming from people who have both political and economic complaints about their governments.
Gates says he hopes that other leaders in the region take note of what's going on in Egypt and Tunisia and start addressing their citizens' concerns.
My guess is they may not have much of a choice.
Here’s my question to you: What signal would Mubarak's resignation send to other Middle Eastern countries?
People enter Tahrir Square as news of the possible resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak seeped out today in Cairo. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
They have come for more than two weeks now. Egyptian protesters by the hundreds of thousands filling Tahrir Square and demanding change. Now it looks like they're going to get it.
These courageous people have been risking their lives day in, day out because they have finally had enough.
They've put their lives on the line for political change in a country where many of them have known nothing but Mubarak's regime. This is a country where the median age is 24.
Mubarak has been in power for 30 years.
Mubarak's government became corrupt and inefficient. Egyptian citizens got fed up with high unemployment and a bleak future while their leader, Hosni Mubarak, became one of the wealthiest men in the world, worth as much as $70 billion.
As the days passed, the movement has only grown stronger. Remarkably, it has remained a largely peaceful revolution. There was almost no violence until the day that armed pro-Mubarak thugs rode in on camels and horses.
Some demonstrators paid the ultimate price. Human Rights Watch confirms 300 Egyptians have died during the uprising and they say that number could double or triple or go even higher.
As Americans sit back and watch this history unfold from the comfort of our living rooms, it's hard to imagine what - if anything - could compel us in 2011 to do the same.
We did once, but that was long ago and much has changed. How bad would things need to get in the United States for Americans to stand up and demand change?
Here’s my question to you: What would it take to get Americans into the street like Egypt's protesters?
Egyptian anti-government demonstrators and members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement pray in front of Egyptian soldiers at Cairo's Tahrir square. (PHOTO CREDIT: PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)
As the drama in Egypt unfolds - there are growing questions about what role the Muslim Brotherhood should play.
You see, the group has a split image. Some see it as a hostile Islamic group that includes dangerous fundamentalists. Others say it's merely another opposition group in Egypt - that should play a role in whatever comes next.
The Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt for decades, but still has a following. It is the largest and most organized opposition movement. In a 2005 parliamentary election, its candidates - running as Independents - won 20% of the seats.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been part of recent meetings about political reform in Egypt.
Its leaders insist they are not seeking power... saying they want to participate, but not dominate. The group also says it rejects a religious state.
But not everyone believes them - and for good reason. Critics point to proclamations of violence and connect the Brotherhood to terrorist groups like Hamas.
They say the Brotherhood doesn't believe in equality between Muslims and Christians... or between men and women.
The Jerusalem Post reports on a 1995 book called "Jihad is the Way" - written by a former head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The book details the group's goal of a global Islamic conquest. It suggests jihad is not only meant to fend off enemies, but to establish an Islamic state, strengthen the religion and spread it around the world.
It's easy to understand why some aren't so trusting of them.
Here’s my question to you: What role should the Muslim Brotherhood play in Egypt's future?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
People demonstrated in support of Egypt's uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in front of the White House earlier this week. Secretary of State Clinton called for international support for an orderly transition to democracy, warning of forces that might try to derail it. (PHOTO CREDIT: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Dealing with politics in the Middle East can be tantamount to juggling hand grenades, but some think the Obama administration is making a mess of its response to the crisis in Egypt.
The White House is sending out mixed messages.
First, President Barack Obama said Egypt's transition "must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," and It looked like the administration was taking steps to increase pressure on Hosni Mubarak to step aside. Well, maybe not.
Since then, Mubarak has made it clear he's not going anywhere until September. He says he needs to stick around to maintain stability.
So the administration is changing its tune. Now Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, says the process in Egypt will be "bumpy" and that "it's going to take some time to work this stuff out."
Meanwhile, the administration is undercutting its own diplomat, Frank Wisner. They sent him to Egypt to negotiate directly with Mubarak.
Upon his return, Wisner said Mubarak should stay in office - at least for now so he can hand over authority in an orderly manner. But Gibbs says Wisner doesn't speak for the administration. Gibbs says the Egyptians should decide the details of the transition.
Potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich calls all this back-and-forth "amateurish." Gingrich says he's concerned about the administration's handling of the situation and that it can't get on the same page as its special envoy.
Here’s my question to you: How would you rate the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Egypt?
It was only a matter of time before we heard from Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska governor, who badly bungled her response to the Arizona shootings, had managed to keep quiet on the crisis in Egypt for about two weeks. That was until her interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, where Palin highlighted her lack of foreign policy experience or understanding.
She blasted the Obama administration on Egypt, saying the crisis is the president's 3 a.m. phone call, which "went right to the answering machine."
Palin says the administration hasn't explained to the public what it knows. She says she's "not really enthused" about what's being done in Washington and called for "strength and sound mind" in the White House.
When Palin speaks it's usually a lot of feathers - not very much chicken:
"Who's going to fill the void? (President Hosni) Mubarak, he's gone, one way or the other you know, he is not going to be the leader of Egypt, that that's a given, so now the information needs to be gathered and understood as to who it will be that fills now the void in the government.
"Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood? We should not stand for that, or with that or by that. Any radical Islamists, no that is not who we should be supporting and standing by, so we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests so that good decisions can be made in terms of who we will stand by and support."
Palin's words, once again, amount to a whole lot of nothing.
She criticizes President Barack Obama but doesn't offer any solution.
We should be used to this by now: lots of feathers, no chicken.
Here’s my question to you: How much do you trust Sarah Palin's opinion on Egypt?
As unrest sweeps through the Middle East like wildfire, it's worth remembering this crisis will cost all of us - especially at the gas station.
And maybe – just maybe – this time, the chaos in that part of the world will finally be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil.
Although Egypt is not a major oil producer, it plays a key role in the transport of oil and gas headed to the U.S., Europe and Asia through the Suez Canal.
Without it, shippers would have to send crude oil and gas around the Horn of Africa. That adds on more than two weeks of delivery time to global markets.
With the ongoing violence and protests in Egypt, some shippers are worried about disruptions to the Suez Canal or nearby pipelines.
Nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil go through the canal every day – that's about equal to Iraq's output.
All this comes as global oil supplies are tightening – mostly due to China's increasing demand.
And the markets are reacting. Crude is trading at more than $103 a barrel – that's a 28-month high.
Even before the Mideast erupted, some experts were predicting gas at $5 a gallon by 2012.
And it's not just about the money. So much of the politics of the region has always been dictated by our need for oil. It would be nice to do what's in our best national interest for a change... instead of being beholden to Mideast dictators for their oil.
Here’s my question to you: Should the chaos in the Middle East be enough to break America's addiction to foreign oil?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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