President Barack Obama’s relative detachment from the rapidly accelerating crisis in Egypt is perfectly justifiable. His administration’s policy, to maintain relations with Egypt’s Army by safeguarding American financial aid, is the correct course – in spite of the objections from those on the right and the left disturbed by the appearance of Washington’s support for the bloody crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Some in the media have expressed dismay over America’s position on what bears increasing resemblance to a brewing civil war in Egypt, but most have remained silent. They say, correctly, that the president has few options for addressing this crisis. The same is often said of America’s options – or lack thereof — in Syria, where a more than 2-year-old war has claimed over 100,000 civilian lives.
But this was not the majority point of view the last time the Middle East erupted in crisis. Then, when another president served as the executor of American national interests abroad, many in the media and the political class saw Bush’s disengagement as exacerbating an already disastrous situation on the Mediterranean.
“I’m very worried that we’re at a crossroads and we’re not going to take the right turn here,” former Secretary of State Madeline Albright told ABC’s This Week anchor, George Stephanopoulos, in July of 2006. “I still do think that we actually need to be more involved. And I wish that the secretary had announced that she was leaving.”