Let’s say the United States cuts off aid to Egypt. To get it back, the Egyptian army quickly supervises a series of elections for a revised constitution, parliament, and president, in a way that meets with American approval. What then? We’re seen as responsible for Egypt’s fate, that’s what.

All sides in Egypt are prone to blame the United States. The secular parties blame Obama for backing the Brotherhood, while the Brotherhood blames Obama for failing to stop the army. That’s just garden-variety Egyptian political rhetoric doubling as pressure on the United States to undercut the opposing faction. But what would happen if America took open and dramatic action to force the military’s hand? At that point, we truly would be implicated in whatever came out of the new “democratic” process.

Imagine the possibilities. The Islamists win again, and we get the blame from many of our allies–and from many Americans–who would rightly view that outcome as a disaster. Or perhaps the coalition of anti-American nationalists and hard-leftists that make up what we call the “secular” parties takes power. Either way, we’ve put bitterly anti-American and anti-Israel politicians in control. And when the economy crashes on whoever’s watch it then becomes, we get the blame.

Once we grasp for de facto ownership of Egypt’s “democratic” process, the threat of total economic collapse will generate enormous pressure for an American bailout, the tab for which would be about $20 billion a year over-and-above our current $1.5 billion in aid.