July 2, 2013 | Quote

Egypt: Little U.S. Influence, Few Good Choices

At the State Department briefing on Monday, spokesman Patrick Ventrell observed about Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi: “He’s the democratically elected leader of Egypt, as the president said this morning.” He is, indeed, and it gets complicated as the United States tries to navigate between a Muslim Brotherhood leader in whom they invested too much confidence and aiding and the opposition, which carries legitimate objections to Morsi’s slide into Islamic authoritarianism.

Former CIA analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht told me that while the military might prefer to push Morsi out, if it does so, “it basically will destroy the legitimacy of Egyptian democracy since the Brotherhood and the Salafists clearly won parliament, Morsi won the presidency, and the Muslim Brotherhood constitution won overwhelming approval. The secular opposition wants to establish a political arrangement where they win even if they lose.”

Gerecht questioned whether the military really wants to go down this road. “I don’t think the military wants to test its strength now,” he stressed. “But it may feel it has no choice, given the size of the demonstrations. Westernization has brilliantly succeeded in Egypt, at least in that it has created a large slice of the population that loathes the idea of Islamist government.” He added, ” It’s an extraordinarily difficult situation.”

Unfortunately, it is hard to have much confidence in the Obama team to figure it all out. Obama went way too far in bolstering Morsi and not making aid contingent on improved political and economic conditions. So now we see an emboldened Morsi, an aggrieved populace, an economy near collapse and secular opposition leaders who mistrust the U.S. government. We are, as has been the case for so much of the Obama administration, a bystander.

Read the full article here.