The same can be said of the protesters in Istanbul's Taksim square. The remnants of Iran's Green Movement, who elected a relative moderate as the country's
new president, roughly fit that description as well. All these developments are positive and a sign of empowered citizens making legitimate demands of
But other things occurring in Egypt are not. The country's political elite is deeply polarized. The secular opposition and its Islamist opponents disdain
one another. Any semblance of trust or compromise has disappeared.
In Tahrir Square, some protesters carried signs
calling for the Obama administration to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood's "fascist regime." They scoffed at the idea that the Brotherhood would ever
allow free elections. They insisted that they were stopping a Brotherhood plot to turn Egypt into a theocratic state that resembled Afghanistan after the
Brotherhood supporters, meanwhile, were heartbroken, seeing the coup as a re-assertion of the military rule they have struggled to endfor decades. They claimed the opposition had a "personal vendetta" against the Brotherhood. And they called the current struggle
"an existential battle" with the military they will not lose.
In a trenchant analysis in The New
Republic, Nathan Brown, an expert on Islamist political movements, offers a detailed list of the colossal mistakes Morsi made in office. But also warns
about what happens next. A crackdown on the Brotherhood, Brown suggests, could result in some of its members embracing violence.
"It would be wise for those who are now victorious in Egypt to remember that the issue is not only what the Brotherhood learns," Brown wrote, "the issue is
also what Islamists are taught."
For the Obama administration, the coup is a minefield -- and a second chance. Washington's influence is enormously limited in Egypt. Thirty-years of backing
Egyptian military rulers who embraced peace with Israel have left Washington with no credibility.
Many members of the secular opposition are convinced the Obama administration placed the Brotherhood in power. Islamists, however, see an American hand
behind the coup that toppled Morsi. As Brown notes, "Egypt's rumor mill transformed preposterous rumor into established fact with breathtaking speed."
That is why it is vital for Washington to demand immediate elections and no crackdown on the brotherhood. President Barack Obama's statement on Tuesday was
surprisingly strong in some areas.
"I now call on the Egyptian military," Obama said, "to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian
government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters."
He also hinted at a cut off of the $1.3 billion in annual aid the United States provides to Egypt, most of it military. Under
, all U.S. foreign assistance is cut off to a country if a military coup occurs.