Egypt Mess Is Obama's 'Greatest Failure'
Roger Cohen criticizes policy; Bret Stephens says US must 'hold its nose' and back military
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2013 12:09 PM CDT
Supporters of Mohammed Morsi raise four fingers, a sign that protesters say symbolizes the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo that was cleared last week by Egyptian security forces.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

(Newser) – What's happening in Egypt represents President Obama's "greatest failure," writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times. Obama's much-ballyhooed speech in Cairo in 2009, intended to begin healing rifts with the Muslim world, "stands now as a monument to America’s declining influence in the world," he writes. The president has been wishy-washy in his response to the military coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi, and it turns out that all our money gave us little sway over either the military or the Muslim Brotherhood while it held power. Nothing "was more important than getting Egypt right," writes Cohen, but we got it exactly wrong.

What to do? At the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens writes that it's time to move beyond finger-wagging and actually establish a policy. "If the US wants influence, it needs to hold its nose and take a side," he writes. And that side is clear: The US should support the military leaders, and hope they win this fight as quickly as possible. The generals "may not need shiny new F-16s, but riot gear, tear gas, rubber bullets, and Taser guns could help, especially to prevent the kind of bloodbaths the world witnessed last week." It's not pretty, but it's the best path to restoring normalcy to the Egypt. Click for Stephens' full column. Or for Cohen's full column.