When you attempt to engineer Democracy in a nation that has been dominated by autocratic rule for centuries you don’t always get what you want. Egypt is now one more example of “be careful what you ask for…you just might get it.”

While the U.S. triumphed in the “Arab Spring,” many predicted the medicine might turn out to be far worse than the disease and that’s what we’re seeing in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood dominated the elections pushing Egypt towards Islamic extremes leaving Egyptians with far fewer freedoms than under the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

Today 44 foreign-nationals, including 19 Americans that have been kept from leaving Egypt are being charged with crimes. The Americans now facing criminal trial include the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The group is being accused of receiving foreign funds and being involved in activities now banned in Egypt.

The group of non-governmental organization workers will face the Egyptian courts after judges investigating the charges agreed the accused should be tried.

Clinton speaks with Egypt's foreign minister in Munich

Relations between the United States and Egypt have soured significantly since the turnover of the government and this action will surely degrade the rapport further. Surprisingly the move came just a day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Sam LaHood, son of Ray LaHood heads the Egypt office of the Washington-based International Republican Institute; they, along with Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and a number of foreign aid organizations were raided late last year.

The 19 U.S. aid workers went to the U.S. embassy in Cairo after being prevented from leaving the country several weeks ago.

LaHood said, “If it does go to trial, a trial could last up to one year in a case that’s as wide-ranging as this one is. But the penalty for that is six months to five years in jail so these are very serious charges.”

Billions of U.S. dollars have flowed to Egypt over the past 30 years, with more than $1.3 billion in military aid scheduled to be provided this year alone. The aid is conditional upon Egypt moving from military rule to a civilian government; however that government is likely to be far less friendly to U.S. interests than the Mubarak government.

Secretary of State Clinton told reporters in Munich, “We are very clear that there are problems that arise from this situation that can impact all the rest of our relationship with Egypt. We do not want that.”

If the people of Egypt want a government dominated by extremists that is their choice, but why are we funding it? Buying influence shouldn’t be a practice we as a nation participate in and the outcomes are often far from our objectives. Humanitarian aid is one thing, but propping up a government or military in hopes that they’ll act in a manner we find helpful is little more than playing roulette with tax dollars and frequently ends with taxpayers paying to advance philosophies in direct opposition to American interests.