WSJ's Stephens: US Should Support Egyptian Government

Tuesday, 20 Aug 2013 12:56 PM

By Dan Weil

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While Egypt's new government may leave a lot to be desired, supporting it represents the best policy for the United States, says Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens.

Instead of adopting an attitude critical of the regime, "we could have a policy, which is never gorgeous," he writes. "It is a set of pragmatic choices between unpalatable alternatives designed to achieve the most desirable realistic result. What is realistic and desirable?"

Releasing deposed President Mohammed Morsi and other jailed Islamic Brotherhood leaders is not realistic or desirable, Stephens says. Nor is forming a coalition government that includes the Brotherhood. He calls that "about as realistic as getting a mongoose and a cobra to work together for the good of the mice."

No, what is realistic and desirable, he says, "is for the military to succeed in its confrontation with the Brotherhood as quickly and convincingly as possible. Victory permits magnanimity."

Egyptians would be able to resume a normal life, political and military challenges would be deterred, and the appointed civilian government could get to governing, he says, adding that a quick military victory "beats the alternatives," which would be eventual civil war or "victory by a vengeful Muslim Brotherhood."

"Politics in Egypt today is a zero-sum game: either the military wins, or the Brotherhood does. If the U.S. wants influence, it needs to hold its nose and take a side," Stephens writes.

To start with, he says the Obama administration can help by giving practical aid to the Egyptian military, including "riot gear, tear gas, rubber bullets and Taser guns. That kind of aid, he writes, can help prevent "the kind of bloodbaths the world witnessed last week." in Egypt.


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