The U.S. government has long been a hypocritical champion of democratic governance, claiming to honor free elections but historically attempting to subvert their outcomes when the result is not to our liking. But the rank betrayals of our commitment to the principles of representative democracy, from Guatemala to Iran to South Vietnam, among the scores of nations where we undermined duly elected leaders, reached a nadir with the coup by a U.S.-financed military in Egypt against that country's first democratically elected government.
Embarrassingly, our law professor president refuses to label the arrest of Egypt's freely elected president by the military a coup because that would trigger an end to the $1.5 billion in U.S. aid as a matter of law. It remained for Sen. John McCain to set the president straight. "Reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time as there is a new constitution and a free and fair election," McCain said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." Stating the obvious, he noted that "It was a coup and it was the second time in two-and-a-half years that we have seen the military step in. It is a strong indicator of a lack of American leadership and influence."
The Egyptian military would not have acted without at least the tacit approval of the U.S. government, and evidence is mounting that Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice were in on the plotting before President Mohamed Morsi was arrested. The bloodshed that has followed is on their hands, and lots of luck ever convincing Islamists anywhere of the value of free elections as opposed to violence as an enabler of change.
The coup restored the corrupt military/bureaucratic class that has denied Egypt a modern government for half a century. It was accompanied by the spectacle of Morsi's failed rivals in the last election rushing to offer their services as "democratic" replacements. They included the leaders of the Al Nour party, the one Islamic group that sided with the coup and that makes the Muslim Brotherhood seem quite moderate in comparison.