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When we send foreign aid without strings or conditions, we are saying to governments around the world that no matter how despotically, violently or immorally they behave, they can always count on American dollars unconditionally.

I am glad that so many in Washington are now waking up to the fact that sending Egypt military aid at a time like this is a recipe for disaster. We cannot prevent mistakes in the future if we refuse to learn from our past. America’s foreign-policy past offers example after example of giving billions to tyrannical dictators at great cost to the people of the countries we are allegedly helping while yielding little benefit to the United States.

Egypt is simply the latest example. Things shouldn’t have to always get worse before they get better.

The current situation in Egypt is a teachable moment for Washington. Lawmakers had better start learning.

Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security committees.