The 1978 Peace Deal With Egypt
February 01, 2011, 09:36 PM
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The deal struck at Camp David in 1978 was, very roughly, that, in return for no more war, the U.S. would give Israel $3 billion per year and Egypt $2 billion per year, or $50 per Egyptian per year. That wasn't bad money back then.

But the payoff hasn't gone up since then. And the population of Egypt has doubled, so now rather than $50 per Egyptian per year in 1978 dollars, the bribe is now $25 per Egyptian per year in crummy 2011 dollars.

Meanwhile, the wealth of the American wing of the Israel Fan Club has skyrocketed. This is not a secret in Cairo: they can go to the Forbes 400 website and do the math.

This doesn't mean that a new Egyptian government would want war with Israel. War is stupid; it kills people and breaks stuff. War doesn't pay.

On the other hand, perhaps under a new regime, the Egyptian border guards who currently keep the Egypt-Gaza Strip border locked down pretty tight might get, say, a little sleepy. And maybe a few shipments of longer range missiles might get through to the hotheads in Gaza, with unfortunate but predictable incidents to follow. War doesn't pay, but maybe, ambitious younger men in Egypt might be thinking: Peace can pay. And a lot better than a stinking $25 per head. Mubaruk just wanted to die in luxury and hand his throne over to his son. Younger men might have more to prove.

If peace was worth $2 billion per year in the 1970s, they might reason, what would it be worth in the 2010s? $20 billion? Younger, more energetic Egyptian politicians with less to lose might have some strong opinions on this subject.

But how could the Egyptians intimidate Israel? Perhaps they could co-opt the Jewish State. After all, if Egypt were to demand an order of magnitude cost of living adjustment up to $20 billion, then it would only be right and fitting for Israel to get $30 billion from the U.S. taxpayers.