White House ‘Strongly Condemns’ Egypt Massacre

The Obama administration has issued a strongly worded statement on this morning's massacre by the Egyptian government.

egypt-protests

The Obama administration has issued a strongly worded statement on this morning’s massacre by the Egyptian government:

The United States strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt. We extend our condolences to the families of those who have been killed, and to the injured. We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian military and security forces to show restraint, and for the government to respect the universal rights of its citizens, just as we have urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully. Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy, and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation. We also strongly oppose a return to a State of Emergency law, and call on the government to respect basic human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly, and due process under the law. The world is watching what is happening in Cairo. We urge the government of Egypt – and all parties in Egypt – to refrain from violence and resolve their differences peacefully.

By diplomatic standards, that’s pretty plain spoken. But “strongly condemn,” “strongly oppose,” “call on,” and “urge” are, at the end of the day, just talk. The question remains whether any action will follow if the words fall on deaf ears.

To be clear: It is not in the US national interest to intervene militarily and there’s essentially zero chance that we will. But it’s time to hold the Egyptian military accountable for their crimes which, at a minimum, means we have to immediately suspend aid payments.

Marc Lynch, director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Washington University, goes further, still:

With blood in Egypt’s streets and a return to a state of emergency, it’s time for Washington to stop pretending. Its efforts to maintain its lines of communication with the Egyptian military, quietly mediate the crisis, and help lay the groundwork for some new, democratic political process have utterly failed. Egypt’s new military regime, and a sizable and vocal portion of the Egyptian population, have made it very clear that they just want the United States to leave it alone. For once, Washington should give them their wish. As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government.

That’s a harsh assessmentquite likely correct. Given backing from wealthy Arab states, Egypt’s military can continue its reign with or without US aid. It’s quite unlikely that Washington will have more than marginal impact on how this crisis unfolds.

 Photo credit: Globovision/Flickr

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    “The White House has strongly condemed the attacks. Turning now to the weather… say there, Diane, what kind of weekend is it shaping up to be? Should we back for the beach, or what?”

  2. “I’m sorry, but the US must be firm with you. Stop massacring protestors, or else… Or else we will be very, very angry with you… And we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.”

  3. Mu says:

    The next step up – wriggling your finger at the ambassador and serving him Texas wine.

  4. Mike says:

    We are really angry with you, but not so angry that we won’t give you billions in military equipment and aid. But still, don’t do it again or if you do we will do what Stormy Dragon says and send a mean letter with the billions in aid.

  5. rudderpedals says:

    In retrospect, sending Sens. McCain and Graham as ambassadors probably wasn’t such a good idea.

  6. Satan says:

    Is that me whispering into the ear of Hazem Beblawi?

    “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.”

    Why no! It is the ghost of Ronald Reagan!

  7. PJ says:

    Has the reason for sending money to Egypt changed? If so, I wasn’t aware of it.

    If, for example, any of these things happen, I’m guessing there would be no more money:
    1. Open hostility towards Israel
    2. Egypt closes the Suez canal.
    3. Egypt starts officially to arm people in Gaza.

    Egypt killing its own citizens isn’t on that list, if it had been, then Mubarak wouldn’t have gotten one dime.

  8. stonetools says:

    @PJ:

    From a realpolitik stance, PJ, you have hit the nail on the head. Still, we have to hold ourselves to some kind of standard. We can’t be seen as openly aiding a military that’s massacring its own citizens. I think Marc Lynch has the right approach here.

  9. PJ says:

    @stonetools:
    The standard has been clear for a very long time. “Do certain things and we’ll give you money and we’ll look away when you do other things that we don’t like.”

    If there actually was any kind of morally righteous standards, then there wouldn’t be almost any military aid at all.

  10. ernieyeball says:

    “…morally righteous standards,..”

    Cross: Would you call him a capable man?
    Gittes: Very.
    Cross: Honest?
    Gittes: As far as it goes. ‘Course, he has to swim in the same water we all do.

  11. Andy says:

    That’s a harsh assessment quite likely correct. Given backing from wealthy Arab states, Egypt’s military can continue its reign with or without US aid. It’s quite unlikely that Washington will have more than marginal impact on how this crisis unfolds.

    Of course that’s correct. Our country and the DC “elites” who make policy do not understand Egypt nor most of the Middle East. They create policy in the bubble of Washington groupthink based in irrelevant American ideology, partisan politics and notions of “democracy” far removed from real people and the real world. You’d think they’d have learned something from the decade of war in Asia in which the US failed to appreciate the internal dynamics and peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan – The same flawed thinking that led policymakers to believe that Iraq and Afghanistan would become “beacons of democracy” is at work in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere.

    Have they learned anything from this latest debacle? Probably not.

  12. ernieyeball says:

    You’d think they’d have learned something from the twenty years of war in Southeast Asia in which the US failed to appreciate the internal dynamics and peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.

    Why would anyone think that our fearless leaders would ever learn anything?

  13. Andy says:

    @ernieyeball: Well, the difference is that a lot of these “young gun” policymakers, to include the President, were either not alive or were riding big wheels during Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. I can cut them a bit of slack for that for the same reason I can cut them some slack for the Philippines. There is no excuse, however, for not learning the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan.

  14. wr says:

    @stonetools: “From a realpolitik stance, PJ, you have hit the nail on the head. Still, we have to hold ourselves to some kind of standard. We can’t be seen as openly aiding a military that’s massacring its own citizens.”

    It didn’t stop us in Chile, Argentina or El Salvador. Or Iran, when we propped up the Shah. Or Iraq back when we installed Saddam. It’s really never stopped us anywhere.

  15. bill says:

    well it’s not like they opened fire on a bunch of 60’s era hippies with flowers and acid. the mursi crowd had cordoned off 2 busy intersections and were openly armed, and were told repeatedly what would happen if they didn’t move. i believe they call them “martyrs” over there, seems to be the only thing they produce these days.

  16. Woody says:

    @PJ:

    Agree – in fact, were Egypt to turn to other Arabic states for finance, I have a strong hunch it would come with some very sharp turns in Egyptian-Israeli relations — along with a more assertive and conservative Islam.

    No, we’ve found ourselves holding a lousy hand playing to a dear pot.

  17. Andre Kenji says:

    That’s a harsh assessmentquite likely correct. Given backing from wealthy Arab states, Egypt’s military can continue its reign with or without US aid.

    1-) The Gulf States may have the money. But they don´t have the toys. The training and the military equipment that the US sends to the Egyptian Army is a huge leverage.

    2-) The Army is not killing protesters because they want.

    They are killing protesters because they have no idea about what to do.

    ,. They are alternating between brutality and chaos.

    3-) The real problem is that there is nothing to sustain the Egyptian economy in the long term. They can´t rely on aid forever.

  18. Andy says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The training and the military equipment that the US sends to the Egyptian Army is a huge leverage.

    If it was actually “huge leverage” today wouldn’t have happened. The military, like the other factions in Egypt, are playing for keeps. US aid is a distant second to political power when it comes to the military’s priorities.

  19. ernieyeball says:

    @Andy:…a lot of these “young gun” policymakers, to include the President, were either not alive…

    Yeah, I guess you’re right. It’s not like there is any reminder of the human cost of any historic catastrophe this country has ever embarked on in their back yard.

    http://0.tqn.com/d/architecture/1/0/s/2/1/The-Vietnam-Veterans-Memorial-snow.jpg

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @stonetools:

    We can’t be seen as openly aiding a military that’s massacring its own citizens.

    Apart from our past open aid to the governments of South Korea, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, El Salvador, and Guatemala while they were openly massacring their citizens, I completely agree with you.

  21. Gustopher says:

    Perhaps the $1B in military aid can be in the form of tasers, firehoses, and other less lethal weapons to turn on their own populace?

  22. Tyrell says:

    @Andy: Lessons of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan: go in to win, or don’t go in.
    “somebody wouldn’t let us win” (Rambo)

  23. stonetools says:

    @Rafer Janders: @PJ:

    Apart from our past open aid to the governments of South Korea, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Argentina, Chile, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, El Salvador, and Guatemala while they were openly massacring their citizens, I completely agree with you.

    Agree with all that. The question is, what’s the next step, O righteous ones?

    C
    R
    I
    C
    K
    E
    T
    S

    Not so clever now, aren’t we?