Friday, July 12, 2013

here a coup, there a coup

The question is how to respond to the post-Morsi government of Egypt isn't only a policy matter, but a legal and constitutional one as well. On policy grounds, it makes sense to follow a wait-and-see approach, nudging the new regime to have quick and fair elections and other reforms. There are even technical, bureaucratic issues -- like the disbursement schedule of various types of aid --  that might allow for delay in applying the legal requirement to halt aid when a duly elected head of government is overthrown by a military coup.

But the law is a law. And while the current law lacks a waiver provision, which some in Congress are now contemplating, I believe it should be enforced pending such a change in the law.

Presidentialists believe that legal provisions can never restrict a president on national security matters. Policy advocates who favor results rather than proper processes also urge not calling a coup a coup. David Rothkopf even slams the whole legal profession for being "literalists" and making "foreign policy by dictionary."

Wrong. This is foreign policy by law, consistent with the Constitution.  I have to admit, however, that U.S. application of this law has been spotty and inconsistent, as Max Fisher documents in the Post.

Let's get back on the right track. Make clear the law will be enforced as pressure for reforms and a timetable. Ask Congress to add a waiver in one of the upcoming appropriations bills. And consider using it if and when it becomes law.

No comments:

Post a Comment