Odds of this happening under President Obama: Zero. Odds of it happening under President Romney: Not much higher, I’d bet, although I’d be keen to hear Mitt’s reaction. If by “foreign aid” West means military aid to the junta, then cutting it might inadvertently do more to empower the Brotherhood than keeping the aid going would. Right now the military’s a de facto veto on the MB’s foreign policy; if we cancel our yearly aid check, i.e. peace bribe, who knows what new patron they’ll turn to or how amenable they might become to hearing the Brotherhood out on a new war with Israel?
As for repudiating the Islamists, Obama’s got two models to choose from: The cold shoulder approach that we use with Iran, with whom we’re nearly at war, and the diplomatic approach that we use with Turkey, a NATO ally. Guess which O prefers:
U.S. officials and analysts express guarded optimism that Washington can build a strong working relationship with the veteran Muslim Brotherhood politician, whose victory was confirmed Sunday. Morsi and his aides say that they, too, are upbeat about the future of Egypt’s relationship with the United States, though not without caveats…
“The U.S. will have leverage with the Brotherhood because the Brotherhood needs the U.S. and Europe for Egypt’s long-term economic recovery,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Center who has met with Morsi and several Brotherhood leaders in recent months. “They are going to need billions of dollars in loans and investments if they want to turn around their economy.”
Morsi spokesman and adviser Gehad Haddad said the incoming president, who earned a PhD in Southern California during the 1970s, has begun to build healthy relationships with U.S. officials.
Haddad, [Morsi’s] spokesman, said Monday that “we will not be the party that breaks this treaty [the Camp David accords].” But he added that Egyptians would see “very swift” and significant changes in the country’s policy toward Israel. Haddad said these will include more vocal support for Palestinian statehood and a meaningful lifting of the blockade on goods passing through the Rafah crossing, which serves as the main gateway between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory ruled by the militant group Hamas.
Note the careful semantics. Haddad doesn’t say they’ll abide by the Camp David accords, he merely says that they won’t be the party that ends up breaking the treaty. He’s telling you how it’ll all go down: They’ll look for some sort of pretext in Israel’s words or actions, cite that as a de facto repudiation of the treaty, and then pull out. There are no aggressive Islamists, you see, merely Islamists who respond to the aggression of others. In fact, for more on that, go read Tom Joscelyn’s post at the Standard about a mysterious interview with Morsi that appeared in Iranian media today claiming that he said he’s prepared to review the Camp David accords. After it was published and picked up by the Jerusalem Post, Morsi turned around and claimed that it never happened; Iranian media had supposedly made the whole thing up. I put nothing past Iran, but go look at the front page of Fars’s website. That’s an awfully elaborate invented interview. What’s more likely, that Iran made it all up or that Morsi’s telling the Iranians one thing and the chumps in the State Department something entirely different?
Oh well. He’s our guy now:
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that the Obama administration was committed to the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt that led to their democratic elections held this past week.
He said the administration looks forward to working with Morsi and hopes he will respect the rights of all Egyptian citizens, including women and religious minorities.
“We judge individuals and parties that are elected in a democratic process by their actions, not by their religious affiliations,” Carney said.
“And I would point you to the comments that President-elect Morsi made, the commitments he made to upholding civil rights, including of women and Coptic Christians — principles that we very much think are important.”
I’m going to give Carney the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not so much of a rube as to actually believe that last bit, but I honestly don’t know. Maybe in his mind it’s still February 2011 and the Middle East is alive with reformist possibilities. Can you feel it?
Anyway, I’m dying to see how close O is willing to get to Morsi before the election in the name of diplomacy when Republicans like West are landing body blows like these. If I were Morsi, I’d be pounding the table for a White House visit: It would cement the Brotherhood’s international legitimacy and it would make the military junta sweat to see their chief rivals for power suddenly making friends with their benefactors. Obama will never agree to it before November, though, so I wonder what the compromise will be. Joint press conference with Hillary in Cairo, maybe? Exit question: Does our nominee agree with Allen West?