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Why Obama Should Postpone Giving Advanced Weapons to Egypt: A Guide for Congress

Remember the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat, in which members of the Egyptian military participated. While terrorists are not likely to take off in an F16, other weapons are more vulnerable. And then there’s the possibility of the theft of technology that might wind up in the hands of America’s enemies. This should be a real consideration, and I’ll bet there are some very interesting reports about such things in the Pentagon.

Because of recent events, then, the postponement of sales -- which a month ago seemed a mission impossible -- becomes a possible realpolitik American response, when before this point it was arguably against U.S. interests. With the Obama administration proclaiming its allegiance to human rights and democracy, that added point should affect the thinking of congressional Democrats.

Will the sale be stopped? Almost certainly not, unless there are more dramatic events. The president generally gets what he wants in foreign policy, and most Democrats are simply afraid to cross Obama even if they disagree with him.

Nevertheless, a credible attempt should be made to postpone the sale if for no other reason than that it would lay the basis for a possibly more successful effort the next time, when the Egyptian government’s radicalism will be even more visible.

A second reason for this effort is to show the Obama administration that there is a price for its policies, and that the strategy it is following undermines U.S. interests. If it is going to back the Brotherhood then the contradictions in this position should be exposed to the American public and members of Congress should be forced to take a stand. Democrats on Capitol Hill who back the White House on other issues might well realize that they need to curb it on foreign policy, lest it damage both America and their own political careers. 

Of course, the White House will not change course, just as it didn’t do so when demonstrators were being repressed in Iran. Having just appointed an all pro-Islamist team, Obama has doubled down on his policy. But he should have to pay for such behavior in public opinion and the loss of congressional support.