President Barack Obama has decided not to bring his influence to bear on Egypt. In a statement on Thursday, he spoke out against this week’s violence in the country and cancelled forthcoming joint military exercises, declaring that “our traditional co-operation cannot continue as usual”. But in effect, business as usual was what he championed. These were largely symbolic gestures that did not undermine implicit American support for the Egyptian military.
The US link to the generals is longstanding. That is the backdrop for the decision to acquiesce in July’s military coup against the Egyptian president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. It was a significant foreign policy misstep, compounded by the Obama administration’s subsequent statements and decisions. In early August, secretary of state John Kerry described the military as “restoring democracy”. At the time, it was incorrect. This week it has become a stain on the White House. Continue reading »