Foreign Policy Blogs

Moment of Decision Nears for U.S. – Egypt Relationship


Egypt is the land of pyramids and pharaohs, a magical and mystical place living in the minds of dreamers and tourists the world over. A constant stream of headlines fuels the mystique and allure of Egypt: MSNBC reports divers are exploring the sunken remains of Cleopatra’s palaces and USA Today reports on ancient mummies discovered south of Cairo. This is the image of Egypt in the popular imagination. There is another reality existing alongside the storied history and ancient artifacts: the reality of an aging autocracy governing a country lacking economic and political opportunity; the reality of an American ally at the crossroads of history and modernity.

What role can the U.S. play in helping an important ally confront the challenges of the 21st Century even as they hold on to and celebrate the greatness and glory of their ancient past? The Bush Administration answered that question by pushing a democracy agenda that raised both hope for political reform and fear of political instability. The Obama Administration has adopted a less strident approach, backing away from democracy promotion while engaging in a more regional (and pragmatic) approach, taking leaders (and allies) where they can find them and offering more praise and less pressure. Elections loom next year, forcing the U.S. to confront an Egypt without longtime leader Mubarak. Should the U.S. work behind the scenes and use our influence to promote the stable transfer of power to Mubarak’s son or embrace Mohamed ElBaradei, the respected democratic challenger? To help answer such questions, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently put together a bi-partisan working group on Egypt to persuade Secretary Clinton to pursue the path of democratic reform. The text of their open letter to Secretary Clinton can be found here.



Joel Davis

Joel Davis is the Director of Online Services at the International Studies Association in Tucson, Arizona. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona, where he received his B.A. in Political Science and Master's degree in International Relations. He has lived in the UK, Italy and Eritrea, and his travels have taken him to Canada, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Greece.

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Areas of Focus:
State Department; Diplomacy; US Aid; and Alliances.

Contact Joel by e-mail at [email protected]