The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

August 16, 2013

Our View: American influence

— The Associated Press on Thursday reported that at least 638 people were confirmed killed and nearly 4,000 wounded in violence sparked when riot police stormed two sit-ins in Cairo where supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi have been camped.

There was a time when our influence and power might have served to quell this slaughter. American influence through diplomacy in Egypt today has been reduced to moral platitudes, calling for more democracy, no violence, and two sides coming together peacefully to resolve their differences.

President Barack Obama has canceled joint U.S.-Egypt military exercises, although he gave no indication that the U.S. planned to cut off its $1.3 billion in annual military aid to the country. The U.S. administration has avoided declaring Morsi’s ouster a coup, which would force it to suspend the military aid.

Obama says America wants to sustain a relationship with Egypt, but at least admits that can’t continue when civilians are being gunned down in the streets. The president also ordered his national security team to “assess the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship.”

The philosophies of free and open government fall on deaf ears in the streets of Egypt today. The internal struggle is there between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military-backed government. Which side should America pick to support? Neither becomes the cry for most thinking Americans, in our view.

As for real power, physical power, military power or influence, forget that approach. Even if we wanted to do so, there are not enough aircraft carrier battle groups around to put into the Mediterranean Sea to show “presence” around Egypt. The same applies to Syria, another larger hot bed of international and local conflict in the Middle East, or Iraq, or Iran, or Lebanon, and that list goes on just around the edges of the Mediterranean Sea.

We are now in a position, internationally, that we have two big problems. We cannot decide what to do and we lack the influence and power to really do much of anything except give lectures to other countries.

That is a sad state of affairs for America.

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