Thursday, August 15, 2013

The reaction to this week's massacre in Cairo will be key to the reputations of the United States and Europe in Arab states and the Muslim world in general for years to come. Its credibility and influence are at stake

    Thursday, August 15, 2013   No comments

When historical turning points present themselves, there's no avoiding the need for decisive action. Now that the Egyptian armed forces -- with the backing and the approval of a subservient civil government -- has brutally clamped down on protests by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Western world is at a crossroads. It is irrelevant if the number of casualties is 500 or over 1,000, depending on which source is to be believed. The reaction to this week's massacre in Cairo will be key to the reputations of the United States and Europe in Arab states and the Muslim world in general for years to come. Its credibility and influence are at stake.

As is often the case, the issue is not how much outrage and sympathy is triggered by shocking images of seriously injured men, helpless elderly women and crying children. The issue is how to balance realpolitik with human rights.
Do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings and return to dialogue with a strongman at the top of the Egyptian government with blood on his hands but the clout to bring a modicum of stability to the country and the region, and a foreign policy stance that dovetails with ours?

Or do we want to issue stern diplomatic warnings against pushing the Muslim Brotherhood underground, thereby turning them into martyrs, and instead call for them to be supported in their rights -- even though the fundamentalist ideology of these bearded men is so alien to us and undoubtedly at least partly responsible for the current political turmoil?

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Isr Ed

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