Note the key assumption that leads him to the conclusion that the military should be told to stand down and the Brotherhood should be allowed to rule. He writes, "as long as a Brotherhood government must face voters in the future, popular sentiment will act as a check on its illiberal tendencies." How about those free and fair elections in Iran that keep the theocracy in check? There is no proof that a radical Islamist state will support civil liberties and regularly conduct free and fair elections. This whole argument reminds me of the argument that was taking place in 1979 over what to do in Iran. Unfortunately, our fear of being seen as supporting a military takeover caused Carter to tell the Iranian generals to stand down and not fight the revolutionaries. Not only did we never get that chance again (about two dozen were summarily executed), but a once ally become one of our biggest enemies and biggest threats to world peace. Do we really want to risk Egypt going down the path of Iran? How about we learn from history for a change?
I do not envy President Obama having to figure out how to respond. The American interest in democracy appears, in this case, to be at odds with our strategic interest, which is working with the Egyptian military, as we have since the 1970s, rather than trying to deal with the anti-Western, anti-Israel Brotherhood. The U.S. has considerable leverage over the process, thanks to the $1.3 billion in military aid that we provide to Egypt every year. How the U.S. uses that leverage can help to shape the outcome.
Tempting as it is for the U.S. to acquiesce in the military's latest power grab, it is a mistake. The military is either ushering in the day of reckoning (if civil war breaks out) or delaying it (if it doesn't). Either way, Egypt's long-term prospects are not served by this decision, because it will allow the Brotherhood to claim the cloak of martyrdom. The best bet in the long run for weakening Brotherhood authority would be to allow it to rule. Already, the Brotherhood's appeal seems to have declined since the parliamentary elections which ended in January. Undoubtedly, if the Brotherhood were granted full authority over Egypt's dysfunctional state and anemic economy, its popularity would decline some more–unless it were able to moderate its wilder instincts and deliver real results. By keeping the Brotherhood out of power, the SCAF is taking upon itself all the blame for Egypt's dire condition–not a wise long-term bet.
The U.S. will share that popular opprobrium if it appears to connive in this military coup. Obama would be better advised to tell the generals, in no uncertain terms, that they need to take a step back from the political arena. The military should still have a role to play but only as a guarantor of the election process. As long as a Brotherhood government must face voters in the future, popular sentiment will act as a check on its illiberal tendencies. The days of military rule have long passed in Egypt. The military just doesn't know it yet.
A nation controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood will never be a US ally and will likely never cooperate in our efforts to fight terrorism, so why should be back a government run by them instead of a government that will likely be much more amenable to cooperate? It just doesn't make any sense to me.
I still believe in democracy, but as a means to an end (more freedom in the world) not an end unto itself. Wouldn't Germany have been freer under a monarch in 1933 than under the democratically elected Nazis? Democracy shouldn't be the gun we blow our brains out with. We should support democracy in countries where it would lead to greater freedom (places like Poland, Czech Republic etc.) and promote US interests while opposing it when it leads to greater tyranny, like it most certainly would in Egypt, and works against our interests.