Bolton: U.S. Should Back Egyptian Army

August 22, 2013 9:03 am 0 comments

A funeral for a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt. Photo: Screenshot.

If the Muslim Brotherhood wins, say goodbye to the peace treaty with Israel and stability in Sinai.

Egypt has not yet succumbed to all-out civil war, as Syria has, but it’s getting close. So are Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.  Tensions are more than simmering in Nigeria, Mali, Algeria and Sudan, and there is no guarantee that Tunisia, Jordan, Bahrain and Pakistan will remain stable.

This is a pattern. Discrete crises in collapsing Middle Eastern and African countries are giving way to broader regional chaos, which is now a geostrategic factor in its own right.

After the Cold War, America briefly provided a modicum of protection and stability to this broad swath of territory. That time has passed. Under President Barack Obama, the U.S. withdrew militarily from Iraq and is doing so now in Afghanistan. It abandoned long-standing allies under pressure, like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and Arab monarchies wonder when their turn will come.

Even when the U.S. intervened in March 2011 to oust Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, it relinquished the field so entirely that four Americans were assassinated with impunity only 18 months later. Mr. Obama’s Syria policy fundamentally misreads Russia’s objectives and refuses to confront the real Syrian problem: Iran. And as we saw three weeks ago, when the U.S. shut down almost two dozen embassies and consulates, civis americanus sum—the idea that Americans abroad can expect their government to protect them—is losing its force.

This is the depressing context that the White House faces as it decides the next steps to take on Egypt. The U.S. cannot pretend that the Egyptian conflict is a dispute capable of being resolved through political compromise within a framework of representative government. Such conditions do not exist.
The Muslim Brotherhood is not a normal political party as Westerners understand that term. It is an armed ideology—a militia that fires on its opponents and burns down churches. Justice Robert Jackson once said of American communists that they “assert as against our Government all of the constitutional rights and immunities of individuals, and at the same time exercise over their followers much of the authority which they deny to the Government.” The same can be said of the Brotherhood. It is, as Jackson also said of the Communists, “a state within a state.”

We need not dwell on the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology to grasp its authoritarian nature. It desires confrontation with Egypt’s military because it rejects the legitimacy of any government it does not control. The Brotherhood, therefore, shares full blame for the continuing carnage. Should it ever regain power, whether through free elections or otherwise, it will never let go, as Mohammed Morsi was busy demonstrating in his year as president.

Opposing the Brotherhood are Egypt’s military and a collection of citizens who refuse to live under an authoritarian theocracy: Coptic Christians, pro-democracy intellectuals, a middle class that desires a functioning economy, and women who do not yearn for the burqa. Without the military’s support, however, this group would be hopelessly outmatched.

Today’s struggle is ultimately between the Brotherhood and the army. Like it or not, it is time for the U.S. to choose sides.

Hand-wringing about abstract political theories or calling on all sides to exercise restraint is divorced from Egypt’s reality. Such rhetoric doesn’t advance U.S. interests, and earns America the contempt of Egyptians across the board. In recent days, Mr. Obama has put his thumb on the scale for the Brotherhood—by calling off next month’s joint military exercise and, according to the office of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), by secretly halting aid. (The Obama administration denies these reports, saying it is reviewing aid programs on a “case by case” basis.)

This is the wrong move. The U.S. should support the military because even with its obvious flaws, it is more likely to support the palpable U.S. interests at stake. Three are basic.

First, it is in the U.S. interest to have an Egyptian government committed to upholding the Camp David Accords with Israel, the foundation of U.S. Middle East policy since 1979. The Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Anwar Sadat in 1981 for negotiating Camp David, and it has never accepted it. Mr. Morsi foreshadowed abrogating or gutting Camp David as soon as practicable during his presidential campaign. With Iran nearing its long-sought nuclear capability, America and Israel would be worse off than before 1979. The U.S. is doing little to stop Iran, but we can still save Camp David. Backing Egypt’s military is the best bet.

Second, and closely related: If the Sinai Peninsula slips from Cairo’s control, terrorists like Hamas (a Brotherhood subsidiary) and al Qaeda will use the area as a haven and a highway for smuggling arms to Gaza for use against Israel and to both sides in the Syrian civil war. Egypt’s army is far more likely to prevent this nightmare scenario than the Brotherhood.

Third, for purely economic reasons, the Suez Canal must remain open. Annually, some 14% of global shipping and 30% of oil supplies pass through the canal. The Brotherhood is far more susceptible to suicidal impulses if it means harming the West. Egypt’s military does not prize martyrdom.

For these reasons and more, the U.S. should continue providing military assistance, which hopefully still provides some measure of continuing leverage. Three decades of affording Egypt’s office corps with military training has created powerful connections that cutting off aid would irreparably damage. America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid is minimal compared to what the Saudis could provide in the U.S.’s absence, but its political symbolism remains important. Moreover, the U.S. should worry about an opportunistic Vladimir Putin stepping in to fill its shoes, eager to reverse Moscow’s historic setback when Sadat expelled the Soviets from Egypt.

There are no certainties here, only odds. But this is a real decision point for the Obama administration, not a time for half-measures.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad” (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

This article was originally published by The Wall Street Journal.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.