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.