It’s been five weeks since the Obama administration granted Egypt its full $1.3 billion in annual military aid despite its government’s failure to meet conditions set by Congress for advancing democracy. In granting a waiver on national security grounds, administration officials argued that continuing the funding was more likely to encourage cooperation with the United States and progress on human rights than a cutoff would.
As it turns out, the administration was wrong. In a number of tangible ways, U.S.-Egyptian relations and the military’s treatment of civil society have deteriorated since the waiver was issued March 23. The threat to nongovernmental organizations, whose prosecution triggered the threat of an aid suspension, has worsened. Conditions for U.S.-backed pro-democracy groups elsewhere in the Middle East have deteriorated as other governments have observed Egypt’s ability to crack down with impunity. - Washington Post
Clearly the Obama administration thinks it's preserving an ally in the Egyptian military, but the Post is right to note the cynicism. This isn't being done for the sake of Egyptian democracy and it's fair to point that out (it's also an egregious waste of U.S. resources at a time of soaring debts) . Yet the Post would have the U.S. wade into Egypt's domestic affairs even more forcefully so that the country comports itself according to our standards. That's equally counter-productive. The U.S. can only do so much to influence events in Egypt, and I'm willing to bet that what effort it does make is far more likely to backfire than to work effectively.
Not 14 days before Mubarak was run out of office, Secretary Clinton was claiming that the leadership was "stable." This kind of breath-taking affirmation of American ignorance about the state of Egyptian affairs should have given both the Obama administration and the Post pause before declaring that they know just the right levers to press to engineer just the right outcome inside Egypt.