Bret Stephens’ case for backing the Egyptian military is also awful:
What’s realistic and desirable is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity. It gives ordinary Egyptians the opportunity to return to normal life. It deters potential political and military challenges. It allows the appointed civilian government to assume a prominent political role. It settles the diplomatic landscape. It lets the neighbors know what’s what.
Stephens discusses the military’s future “victory” over the Brotherhood, as if this could be achieved without plunging the country even deeper into hellish conflict, and deems this a “realistic” option. It’s debatable whether such an outcome is even possible, much less likely. If the military is intent on defeating an organization with millions of supporters, any “victory” that it achieves will probably only come at a very high cost in blood, property damage, international opprobrium, and economic contraction. Supposing that this “victory” can be won, what are the odds that it will be followed by magnanimity and reconciliation? Not very good, I’d say. Is it not more likely that the triumphant party will continue to inflict punishment on those it has defeated, and is it not more likely that the defeated will become even more embittered? Stephens portrays this as an alternative to a “continued slide into outright civil war,” but his recommendation is that the U.S. support the military as it creates the conditions for just such a conflict. Since there seems to be nothing that the U.S. can say or do at this point that can dissuade from military from its present course, the most realistic and desirable option is to distance the U.S. from the ongoing disaster in recognition that continuing our current level of “engagement” is useless and ultimately dangerous for the U.S.