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John Bolton: Obama Remains 'Irresolute While Egyptians Riot'

Image: John Bolton: Obama Remains 'Irresolute While Egyptians Riot'

Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 12:23 PM

By Dan Weil

The United States should continue giving financial assistance to Egypt, despite the view of some Americans that we shouldn't support a military coup, says former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

What policy should the U.S. adopt amid Egypt's turmoil? he asks in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

"Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a policy. Even President Obama's media supporters now complain that he remains irresolute while Egyptians riot, the Camp David accord with Israel teeters, and world oil prices rise for fear that the Suez Canal might close."

Obama may be smart to remain publicly quiet about Egypt now, but behind-the-scenes action is critically necessary, says Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Many Americans, concerned that a 'democratically elected' government has been ousted, argue that we should, as current law requires, terminate assistance to Egypt until another election takes place." That view is wrong for several reasons, he writes.

"First, while the Muslim Brotherhood prevailed in the 2012 elections, it worked assiduously thereafter to cement itself in power by manipulating the instruments of governance, such as packing the military, challenging the Mubarak-era appointees in the judiciary and writing a constitution that suited its ultimate objective of an Islamist state," Bolton writes.

In addition, democracy is about much more than just holding elections, Bolton states. "Liberty is the more profound objective, encompassing attributes like freedom of conscience and speech and constitutional restraints on government power."

Former President Mohammed Morsi's single-minded effort "to establish a harsh theocracy that would put an end to freedom of conscience and dissent was manifestly unacceptable," Bolton writes.

"Accordingly, the military had little choice but to move, both to prevent the Brotherhood from continuing its own creeping coup and to avoid potentially deadly civil conflict. … Had the army hesitated beyond last week, instability, carnage and the threat to any prospect of a free, open society would likely have been much worse."

In light of those facts, dropping U.S. aid to Egypt would be a big mistake, Bolton says. Congress should quickly fix the law so that U.S. aid to Egypt can continue to flow, he says.

Events in Egypt cry out for U.S. leadership, Bolton says, "not to sort out Egypt's manifold internal political difficulties, but to assert a clear-eyed view of America's enduring interests in the Middle East. Let's hope the Obama administration wakes up in time."

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV Tuesday, Bolton made much the same points. "We've got to find a way to keep this calm," he said. Showing a signal of support for the military will certainly keep our leverage where it is now. And the military, sad to say, is the only institution in Egypt that's capable of restoring peace and getting stability into the equation."

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