Thursday, July 4, 2013

who lost Egypt?

Let's not go there. Already the pundits and partisans are trying to blame someone in America for the inept government and assertive military in Egypt. It was Obama's fault, because of a dithering response to the Arab spring. It was Ambassador Patterson's fault, because she was too supportive,  or insufficiently supportive, of the Morsi government. It was Kerry's fault, because he was otherwise occupied with Israeli-Palestinian issues. It was Congress' fault, because it send conflicting signals over what Egypt had to do to keep the aid flowing. It was America's fault, because we didn't pull the strings and make the threats to get the outcomes we wanted.

Why do we so easily fall into the pattern of assuming that actors in other countries always respond to what we say and do, and assuming that we ought to have the ability to control events abroad? That has rarely been the case, even at the height of American unipolar power.

To me, Egypt looks like a sad case of poor governance, poor political skills, and numerous lingering social and economic problems that would challenge any dictator or democratic polity. I hope we can help, but we shouldn't expect to be able to do much.

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