In President Obama’s latest statement on events in Egypt, he does not swerve from the position he has maintained from day one: that of a concerned but impotent spectator.
“In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.”
But does this friend intend to do anything other than express beliefs and hopes about a desirable outcome?
“As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people.” And in another nod to people power: “The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people.”
And yet the whole world knows that the US is not an impotent and innocent onlooker — it is deeply invested in supporting Egypt’s military.
The White House claims it supports democracy in Egypt and that the US should have no role in determining who governs, yet Obama can certainly make the continuation of military aid contingent on the existence of a democratic government.
At this decisive moment when the Egyptian military has to choose between supporting an embattled and increasingly desperate president or siding with the people, the risk of losing one third of the country’s military funding could bring some much-needed clarity to the generals’ thinking.