Listening to NHPR this morning and I heard this from "an administration spokesman".
"Our objective in Egypt is to secure free and fair elections."
Oh really? That statement is guaranteed to raise hackles across Egypt. All Egyptians hear that as "The United States wants to impose a government upon Egypt." Not diplomatic, to say the least.
The United States should be saying "We respect the right of the Egyptian people to choose their own form of government". That is the only proper thing for a democracy to say about foreign governments.
Now, you know and I know that the United States really wants a stable, decent, secular government in Egypt, one that will maintain the peace treaty with Israel, co-operate with the US, and improve the lot of the mass of Egyptian people. It would be nice if elections caused this to come about, but we cannot be fussy. Last time we did "free and fair elections" over there we got Hamas (offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) in charge of the Gaza Strip. We certainly don't want Egypt taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Remember, the Muslim Brotherhood is the outfit that killed Anwar Sadat 30 years ago. Today the Brotherhood is the only political organization in Egypt, if elections were held today, they would win. In fact if elections are held in September, the Brotherhood may well win.
If the Egyptian power structure (mostly the Egyptian Army) can cut a deal and make it stick without too much breaking of heads, we are happy. We care about results more than we care about process.
Let's hope the Obama administration understands this.