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Weekly Perspectives Part #2: What Should the Obama Administration Do About Egypt?

Rory here –  I want to provide the second piece of our weekly perspectives piece on the Egyptian situation following Ryan’s analysis in an earlier post. What a day it’s been over there!

The most important thing the United States can do right now is engagement. We need a multi-faceted approach (economically, militarily, politically) to help the transition occur peacefully and successfully, all the while making it very clear to Egypt’s military that the United States will only lend support to a legitimate democracy. This means threatening to cut back on the very large amounts of foreign aid we ship off to Egypt every year. This last point may be controversial because a) some feel the United States has no right to make these kind of demands on other sovereign states and b) Egypt is too important of a national security partner for the the U.S. to risk offending. But there’s a very reasonable fear that Egypt will continue a strong-man-style autocracy under the next regime, making the fall of Mubarak nothing but a pyrrhic victory.  The United States must ensure that doesn’t happen. Now is a golden opportunity to institute political reforms and governing institutions that reflect the will of the Egyptian people. Wherever and whenever possible, the United States should be there to help.  I believe this will satisfy American interests as well as American values. It’s in America’s interests because a flourishing democracy in Egypt might reverberate throughout the region, sowing the seeds for change in other autocracies. It’s aligned with American values because for too long the United States has propped up repressive Middle Eastern regimes, tarnishing our appeal and making us look somewhat hypocritical. It’s time to use today’s momentous news to help make Egyptian democracy an enduring reality rather than an ever-elusive dream.



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