Sunday, August 18, 2013

The NYT’s description of how US officials begged and pleaded with the Egyptian military to avoid a showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood to no avail is full of pathos in more ways than one. It describes how senior American officials who once bestrode the world were reduced to groveling. How the mighty had fallen. Not only did the US consent to be ignored, Obama paid for the privilege.

The Revenge of the “False Choice” - Richard Fernandez/PJMedia Belmont Club
American and European diplomats trying to defuse the volatile standoff in Egypt thought they had a breakthrough … Two senators visiting Cairo, John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, met with Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the officer who ousted Mr. Morsi and appointed the new government, and the interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, and pushed for the release of the two prisoners. But the Egyptians brushed them off. …

All of the efforts of the United States government, all the cajoling, the veiled threats, the high-level envoys from Washington and the 17 personal phone calls by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, failed to forestall the worst political bloodletting in modern Egyptian history. The generals in Cairo felt free to ignore the Americans first on the prisoner release and then on the statement, in a cold-eyed calculation that they would not pay a significant cost — a conclusion bolstered when President Obama responded by canceling a joint military exercise but not $1.5 billion in annual aid.
They had Obama over a barrel. How did he get there?

...The State Department should have realized that walking down the aisle with the Muslim Brotherhood to the altar of democracy was like handcuffing yourself to an anvil and trying to swim the English channel. They were bound to drag Obama down and they did. One of President Obama’s favorite phrases is “false choice”. He once said “we Reject the False Choice Between Our Security and Our Ideals”. On another occasion he thundered against the false choice between privacy and security in discussing the NSA scandal. What are we now to make about the choice offered to the Egyptian people between the ideological descendants of Stalin and Hitler? The President should dust off the teleprompter and say, “I reject the false choice …” That would be a start. But the Egyptians need more choices than pick one of two — especially these two — if they are to escape from disaster.