David Frum

12.11.12

America's Bizarre Morsi Embrace

I am late to this David Ignatius column published December 7, but it has not lost any of its importance over the past four days:

How did Washington become the best friend of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, even as President Mohamed Morsi was asserting dictatorial powers and his followers were beating up secular liberals in the streets of Cairo? ...

Through this upheaval, the Obama administration has been oddly restrained. After the power grab, State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said: “We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue.” Not exactly a thundering denunciation.

“You need to explain to me why the U.S. reaction to Morsi’s behavior is so muted,” one Arab official wrote me. “So a Muslim Brotherhood leader becomes president of Egypt. He then swoops in with the most daring usurping of presidential powers since the Pharaohs, enough to make Mubarak look like a minor-league autocrat in training by comparison, and the only response the. . . [Obama administration] can put out is [Nuland’s statement].” This official wondered whether the United States had lost its moral and political bearings in its enthusiasm to find new friends.