First, the democracy problem. The last 18 months witnessed not so much a revolution in Egypt as a regime reconstitution married to a historic opening up of the political system. The good news is that Egypt has competitive politics; the bad news is that the two forces that are competing — the military and the Muslim Brotherhood — are inherently undemocratic, perhaps even anti-democratic, both in structure and philosophy. …

Second, the Israel problem. Let’s be clear about one thing. The intimacy of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship began as a direct result of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Without Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin there would have been no military and economic assistance to Egypt for all those years since the 1978 Camp David accords and the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty. If the Egypt-Israel relationship goes south (and it will), how do we expect to keep the U.S.-Egypt relationship on the rails? …

Third, the Egyptians-hate-our-policy problem. Under Mubarak we could rationalize the fact that most Egyptians disliked America’s Middle East policy. Now that’s not going to be so easy. In the latest Pew polls, 76% of Egyptians had an unfavorable view of the Obama administration; poll numbers from Shibley Telhami found only 25% favored Obama’s reelection and 85% had an unfavorable view of the U.S. in general.