6 questions (and some answers) about Egypt

George Nazmi Bebawi / Shutterstock.com

Article Highlights

  • When the military comes in, ousts the elected leader, and takes out his political party, that’s what we call a coup, folks.

    Tweet This

  • Is Mohamad ElBaradei a good, democratic, liberal sort of fellow?

    Tweet This

  • Morsi was an incompetent who managed to deny those who entrusted him with power the two things they wanted most: prosperity and security.

    Tweet This

1) Was this a coup?

  • When the military comes in, ousts the elected leader, takes out his political party, closes down its HQ, shuts down its media, and announces that it is in control, that’s what we call a coup, folks. Just because some people (Tom Friedman, David Brooks) like it, doesn’t mean it’s not. And the Obama administration/Egyptian military notion that it’s ok as long as the military is facilitating the “will of the people” is just claptrap.


2) Should US assistance be cut off?

  • Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act is clear in its language: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.
  • Here’s the problem: the president has to determine that there has been a coup. Sometimes (ahem, hypocrites of the Obama administration), that seems easy (Honduras), sometimes, not (Egypt).


3) Is Mohamad ElBaradei a good, democratic, liberal sort of fellow?

  • No. Egypt could use a technocrat at this moment.


4) OK, so it’s a coup. But shouldn’t we be sorta happy? Isn’t Morsi dreadful?

  • Let’s organize our thinking here. Yes, Morsi is a bad fellow who appeared intent upon subverting the very democracy that brought him to power. More troubling, apparently, to the Egyptian people: he was an incompetent who managed to deny those who entrusted him with power the two things they wanted most: prosperity and security.
  • Is he worse than Chavez was? How about Qadhafi? Assad? The straight answer is no.
  • So is Morsi’s ouster worth subverting our principles of democracy (for those of us who still believe in them) and the clear intent of US law in order to enjoy a more convenient outcome? The answer to that question should be no.


5) Does Egypt matter? What will happen with Israel? What about Iran?

  • Egypt doesn’t matter as much as it used to. It is no longer a great player on the Middle Eastern stage. Decision-making has moved to the Gulf. Insofar as Mubarak had a will to power, it was his own, and any greatness the country once had has been frittered away.
  • Does that mean we can ignore Egypt? No way. It’s still enormous, and while a maelstrom there is of little immediate moment, its collapse would have serious implications for the entire Middle East.
  • As long as there is stability in Egypt, Israel doesn’t care.
  • Some are wondering if this is good or bad news for Iran. On balance, despite Mohamad ElBaradei’s — and others’ — conflicted support for Iran’s nuclear program (because he hates Israel), hatred of Islamists tips the balance. Bad news.


6) What about the Obama administration? What should they do?

  • An unmitigated disgrace. The place this story should have begun was years ago with support for the liberals throughout the region – not Islamists or militarists. Instead, it defaulted to the “love the one you’re with” foreign policy that got us in trouble pre-Arab Spring, and will continue to get us in trouble. We provide billions to the region; that alone should help the United States to influence a slow and genuine opening to political and economic liberalism. Instead, it’s elections and business as usual — an exercise in abdication from Obama, Kerry et al that has been well-documented in every major newspaper of record.
  • Cut off aid. Slowly give it back if a transition to genuine democracy begins. What is genuine democracy? One where we support groups consonant with our values and our interests. One where parties that subscribe to those values earn our support and others are denied a stamp of approval from the US ambassador. One where there are real battles of ideas, and real parties, not simply ethnic and secular tribes at war.
  • How long does that take? Decades.

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Alexandra Della Rocchetta
    Phone: 202-862-7152
    Email: alex.dellarocchetta@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The money in banking: Comparing salaries of bank and bank regulatory employees
image What Obama should say about China in Japan
image A key to college success: Involved dads
image China takes the fight to space
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.