Tolerating “Unconscionable” Violence in Egypt
Roger Cohen laments the “debacle” in Egypt, and then proposes that the U.S. make no changes to its aid to Egypt:
What now? A knee-jerk reaction would be to cut off U.S. military aid. That, however, would only increase the possibility of internal and regional mayhem. It is tempting, given the Egyptian military’s unconscionable attack on its own citizens, but should be resisted.
This comes at the end of Cohen’s column, so he doesn’t explain why he thinks that suspending aid to Egypt’s military would make “internal and regional mayhem” more likely. It is more likely the case that there will be more internal mayhem in Egypt for weeks and months to come no matter what the U.S. does. Once the coup happened, there was already increased danger of more violence in Egypt, and the more brutal the crackdown the more likely it is that at least some Islamists in Egypt will launch an insurgency that will further destabilize Egypt and its neighbors. Continuing U.S. aid as if nothing has happened in the last six weeks seems willfully blind.
If the violence against protesters is “unconscionable,” what exactly is Cohen’s argument for tolerating it? Won’t tolerating “unconscionable” violence confirm that the U.S. will continue to tolerate a lot more of the same? He says that we should resist the temptation to suspend aid to a coup government, but Cohen never gets around to telling us why we should. Granted, there are limits to what anyone can say in a single column. That being the case, why leave the most contentious questions until the very end and then dismiss them with a couple of throwaway lines?
Is there reason to think that the U.S. has any influence to restrain Egypt’s military? By most accounts, the military there has ignored every message the U.S. has conveyed to them. Won’t the same thing happen the next time the U.S. urges the military to exercise restraint? If so, what good is this aid possibly doing Egypt or the U.S.?