Leave Egyptian Politics to the Egyptians
In the spirit of bi-partisan bridge-building, let me suggest a third way: the U.S. should do nothing in Egypt. It’s shocking, I know, to imagine an option whereby the United States forswears the prerogative to micromanage how another country manages its internal affairs, but it seems like the least-worst option when it comes to Egypt.
Following the military’s decree, there doesn’t seem to be much for the U.S. to do. The ruling junta continues to entrench itself. What Washington has to say about this seems to be irrelevant to them. Regardless of the election outcome, the Egyptian presidency appears to have become a much weaker institution than it has been. Even if Morsi wins, there isn’t anything that the U.S. needs to do in response, since some of Morsi’s supporters probably backed him simply to protest the dissolution of parliament. There will then be an uneasy and fraught relationship between military and civilian authorities in the future. Egypt’s government will likely be even more heavily dominated by the military than it was a year and a half ago. Most Egyptians don’t trust the U.S., so whatever the U.S. attempted to do at this point would be viewed with suspicion. The U.S. might threaten the Egyptian military with a suspension of aid, but everyone understands that this isn’t going to happen, so it isn’t clear what the threat would accomplish.
It is not our government’s responsibility to try to manipulate or shape Egypt’s political development. There is no compelling U.S. interest in becoming more enmeshed in internal Egyptian political quarrels over which our government clearly has little or no influence. The U.S. shouldn’t expect to receive credit or gratitude for not interfering, but there is no advantage for the United States to be had by increased interference.