America Can’t Control Egypt

Jul 3 2013 @ 2:42pm

Jeffrey Goldberg wishes the US had put more pressure on Morsi:

The crisis of the past few days, which may end in a military coup (which would then start the next crisis), might have been avoided had the Obama administration used its leverage — the $1.5 billion in aid the U.S. is giving Egypt this year, for starters — to force Mursi to include the opposition in his government from the outset. It didn’t. And the Egyptian masses noticed.

Charles P. Pierce is puzzled:

The argument seems to be that the administration didn’t bring sufficient pressure to bear on the current Egyptian government to diversify its governing coalition. Withholding military aid seems to be the suggested technique, although how that would have made Mursi and his government less autocratic will have to be explained to me better than Goldberg does here. Mursi is, after all, the elected president, no matter how badly he may have turned. Withholding arms from him would have given him his own special piece of anti-Americanism to use among his followers.

Marc Herman flags research showing that the “seemingly intuitive move to use aid as a carrot to encourage democratic reforms—and as a stick when those reforms disappear—may cause more instability than it prevents.” Larison thinks Egyptians will hate the US no matter what we say or who rules Egypt:

As long as the U.S. provides aid to the Egyptian military, the U.S. is bound to be resented by whichever political groups do not control the government. That isn’t going to change even when the government is a genuinely elected one. If the protesters are successful in driving the extremely unpopular Morsi out, there will always be an incentive for the forces defeated at the last election to stage mass protests demanding the early resignation of the incumbent. There will also be an incentive for those protesters to identify the U.S. as the incumbent’s supporter in order to blame Washington and to vilify the current leader. Because the U.S. will presumably continue to provide aid to the Egyptian military for reasons that have little to do with internal Egyptian politics, there is no way that Washington can “fix” this by throwing its support to the “right” people.