11 March 2009

Middle East Seminar: Day 2

The drive here reminded me of the past trips I've had to the Middle East while in the Navy except on a much larger scale. 

Once you've encountered it, you never forget the true meaning of absolute poverty. Thousands of Shanties built on top of dilapidated buildings stand in stark contrast to the opulent palaces built literally across the  street. It's such a surreal sight. 

I've always held the belief that a person cannot truly appreciate the blessings of America until they have traveled abroad. There is a reason why Ronald Reagan called our country the "shining city upon a hill."

The same man, President Mubarak, has ruled Egypt for 28 years. He was "democratically" elected. We met with Egypt's International Economic Forum where the message about U.S. Aid (which President Bush cut in half last year) was:
1. Can Egypt get an increase?
2. Stop telling Egypt how to spend it.
3. Stop harping on Egypt about Human Rights and the idea of true democracy -- they will move at their own pace towards both of those ends.

Our time in Egypt is about up and we will be leaving for Israel soon. I really hope we find some time to visit the pyramids.