Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Musician Carlos Santana Maintains Upcoming Israel Concert With ‘Open Heart’ Despite Pressure From BDS Activists (VIDEO)

    Musician Carlos Santana Maintains Upcoming Israel Concert With ‘Open Heart’ Despite Pressure From BDS Activists (VIDEO)

    After supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement failed to pressure rock superstar Carlos Santana into cancelling his upcoming concert in Tel Aivv, the guitarist said in a video message on Thursday that he is excited to return to Israel and promote a “musical message of peace, love and an end to conflict.” “The band and I will bring our open hearts and musical energy that will resonate with your soul long after the last song has been […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    British rock band Coldplay started its set at the Glastonburg Festival on Sunday by broadcasting excerpts of the iconic speech Charlie Chaplin delivered in The Great Dictator, the 1940 political satire in which the famous filmmaker/movie star played a Jewish barber. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone,” Chaplin begins his address. “I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    JNS.org – The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →