Despite repeated CNN live footage of Cairo’s Tahrir Square just before commercial breaks, Egypt never came up in the debate. Heavy bloodshed as the military clings to power and/or Islamist rule under the Muslim Brotherhood — both likely scenarios at this time — would pose serious challenges for American foreign policy. A mass exodus of a portion of the country’s 8 million oppressed Coptic Christians, escalated terrorist attacks or even war against Israel, and safe havens for Sunni terrorist groups that destabilize neighbors are all possible threats. As one of our largest aid recipients and a key peace partner with Israel, Egypt could well turn out to be the foreign-policy joker dealt during the next presidency.
— Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, is co-author with Paul Marshall of Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide (Oxford University Press, 2011).