Opinion: The conversation: How the U.S. should proceed in its relations with Egypt


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As protests continue in Egypt, the U.S. is left in a precarious situation for how to proceed with its ally. Enter the opinionators.

‘The administration is absolutely right to lecture [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak about the importance of democratic reforms. But advocating democracy is different from stage-managing it — or introducing it at the barrel of a gun, as President George W. Bush did in Iraq.... Egyptians began this historic uprising; they should decide how it ends.’ -- Editorial, Los Angeles Times


‘For the Obama administration, the stakes are enormous. ‘Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as ‘the president who lost Iran,’ ‘ writes Aluf Benn in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. ‘Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who ‘lost’ Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America’s alliances in the Middle East crumbled.’ ... A more prosaic concern for President Obama: The Suez Canal is the most direct conduit for oil from the Persian Gulf. If it closes, even briefly, oil prices could surge. Middle East instability could deal a staggering blow to a still weak American economy.’ -- Op-Ed by Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

‘Those Americans and others who cheer the mobs in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, who clamor for more robust anti-Mubarak statements from the Obama administration, would be wise to let Washington proceed slowly. Hosni Mubarak is history. He has stayed too long, been too recalcitrant - and, for good reason, let his fear of the future ossify the present. Egypt and the entire Middle East are on the verge of convulsing. America needs to be on the right side of human rights. But it also needs to be on the right side of history. This time, the two may not be the same.’ -- Op-Ed by Richard Cohen, Washington Post

‘So far, the military has behaved responsibly. By clearly tying that $1.2 billion in annual aid to specific conditions -- use live fire on protesters, for example, and the generals can kiss their U.S.-funded villas goodbye -- the Obama administration can strongly discourage bad behavior. But that’s not going to be enough to get the military on board with democracy, which would almost certainly lead to it losing much of its vast political power. To deter the military from taking over again, the U.S. will likely have to threaten withdrawing every cent of its aid package. Suleiman is already within striking distance of Mubarak’s job. It will take a very strong disincentive to restrain him.’-- Max Fisher, The Atlantic

‘What this implies for the Obama administration is not a leap of faith, but a leap of reason -- something that the U.S. president excels at. Just as Egyptians and Tunisians have lost their fear to demonstrate, the United States and other democracies must overcome their fear of Middle East democracy.’ -- Editorial, The Christian Science Monitor

‘We are witnessing a revolution, a turning point for Egypt. I hope that it becomes a turning point for American foreign policy as well -- a lesson that we should never support repression rather than the aspirations of a nation’s people. The United States today has a clear choice. It can stand with the people or with the dictator.’ -- Op-Ed by Maher Hathout, Los Angeles Times

‘America’s narcissism taints Egypt coverage. The question we can’t stop asking ourselves: What do the demonstrations mean for America?’ -- Alex Pareene, Salon



Is real democracy an option in Egypt?

A proud moment in Egypt’s history

Cairo’s restless streets

Complete coverage from the L.A. Times: Unrest in Egypt

-- Alexandra Le Tellier