“One of the most infuriating arguments to emerge out of the whole Egypt situation is the notion that somehow the Obama Administration was insufficiently engaged,” writes the National War College’s Bernard Finel, perhaps the most credible center-right commentator extent. (Found via the Progressive Realist.) “If you think Obama was too slow to response [sic], you are assuming that an American intervention was both appropriate and potentially effective. As far as I can tell, neither is the case.”

He asks:

Does the United States have interests in regards to Egypt? [Of course, but, at] some point, you need to step back and respect the principle of self-determination.

How would Dr. Finel convince centrists and conservatives of that?

[It] actually serves long-term U.S. national interests [in that] it is hard to imagine that what emerges now is somehow going to be particularly stable [or] popular. So, why would you want to own any responsibility for that outcome?

And what would that outcome look like?

. . . likely, we’ll see continued military dominance with a facade of civilian control. Pakistan might be a model. Best case, I suspect is Turkey, where the military serves to constrain policy choices, but remains generally at arms-length.

In the end:

We need to think about the long-game with Egypt [which won’t be] improved by us seeming to have our fingers too visible on the scales. We’re still paying for our intervention in Iranian politics in 1953!

What does Dr. Finel recommend?

[Finally] there is little reason to believe that the United States is in a position to materially affect outcomes in Egypt. . . . our influence is limited. . . . the best possible message we can send to the Egyptians (and the world) is precisely that . . . we wish the Egyptians well . . . but in the final analysis are simply observers rather than players in the process.

Do Focal Points reader think that Finel, however realpolitik, makes sense?

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