David Harsanyi

In other words, we can means-test citizens but not foreign dictators who are on welfare. Must be a swell. Imagine, though, if we had "nudged" Egypt a bit more over the past 30 years. Or tethered our billions to some expectation that basic human rights would be honored or that the nation would embark on some democratic reform efforts? Surely the transition from authoritarian regime to democracy to radical theocracy would be going a lot more smoothly.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he thinks it is about time the U.S. stop sending foreign aid altogether -- including to Israel -- as a cost-cutting measure.

Cutting foreign aid is a political non-starter, of course. But how about we start small? Maybe ending the second world war and bringing our boys home from Japan? Maybe reassessing how we divvy up the help?

Rather than abandon allies who share our principles and who face growing threats from nations like Iran, why not use Israel's political and capitalistic system as a benchmark? You're welcome to our aid if you can match Israel's political and economic freedoms. How many countries would qualify?

Then again, this self-appointed Orientalist believes in only one truism regarding the Middle East: We have no clue what we're doing or what's going to happen. What we do know is it's going to get ugly, and lots of irritated gentlemen will be burning stuff and blaming Americans. But if we insist on getting involved, let's start making those greenbacks work for us.

David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.