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Trump’s Embarrassing Enthusiasm for Sisi

Trump’s showed unbridled enthusiasm for Egypt’s dictator today:

Ever since he seized power in a military takeover nearly four years ago, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been barred from the White House. But President Trump made clear on Monday that the period of ostracism was over as he hosted Mr. Sisi and pledged unstinting support for the autocratic ruler.

“We agree on so many things,” Mr. Trump said as he sat beside Mr. Sisi in the Oval Office. “I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

Whether Trump intends it or not, Sisi will interpret these statements as a green light to do whatever he likes, and he will assume (correctly) that he need not worry about any interference from Washington over the next four years. Trump’s statement that he and Sisi “agree on so many things” will be taken as license by the Egyptian government to arrest, torture, and kill their domestic critics with impunity, and it will be used to encourage more hostility against the U.S. Trump has taken a “no daylight” approach to relations with client states to the absurd extreme of completely identifying the U.S. with Egypt’s dictator.

It should go without saying that nothing justifies this overeager celebration of the leader of a coup against his country’s elected government. Even if one believes that Egypt is still a valuable client, there is no reason to fawn over its dictatorial leader like this. A foreign leader responsible for the arrests of tens of thousands, the torture of detainees, and the deaths of more than a thousand protesters does not deserve to be feted in this fashion, and it is further proof of Trump’s poor judgment and atrocious instincts that Sisi has received the warmest welcome of any foreign leader to date.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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