Deciding to engage with the legitimately elected Muslim Brotherhood government that eventually took Mubarak’s place was again the right call. But our failure to stand against Morsy when he began trampling on minority rights convinced the secular opposition that we were now in his corner. We appeared to be merely shifting our support from one authoritarian Pharaoh to the next. The banners in Tahrir Square this week that decried President Obama and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson, were a vivid signal of how badly we had managed to position the United States during this phase of the transition. We spoke out when we should’ve been working quietly to remove Mubarak; we stayed silent when we should’ve been calling out Morsy on his anti-democratic behavior…

Instead, we ought to be utilizing the private military channels to Egypt’s generals to persuade them to adopt an inclusive return to democratic governance, protecting the rights of all, including to free speech. We should also utilize those private channels to broker the prompt release of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership based on assurances that they will urge their followers to stay calm and engage in a renewed electoral campaign (where they will still have an organizational advantage over their secular opponents).