The NYT's editorial board expresses the conventional--which, with respect to Egypt means desperate--wisdom:
President Obama must make clear his unequivocal opposition to the Egyptian military’s conduct. He can do so by immediately suspending military aid.... [This] can be reversed if the generals change their ways, but, until then, the United States should slam the door on an aid program that has provided the Egyptian military with a munificent $1.3 billion a year for decades.
Yet a peculiar admission follows:
Those who argue that this aid gives the United States leverage can no longer do so with a straight face.
"Those" should include the NYT editorial board. What the board means to suggest is that the cutting of aid might provide leverage, whereas the threat to cut aid does not. Yet fresh aid (of $12 billion) from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait "outstrips the $1.5 billion that Egypt receives from the U.S. each year," as the CS Monitor reported last month, rendering actual U.S. cuts nearly as impotent as idle threats.
That's not to say that suspending aid is not inevitable; events in Egypt and world opinion are forcing it. Yet in cutting aid to anti-Brotherhood forces, the U.S. is also signaling that it's willing to cut its own throat. The NYT casts the "major blame" for Egypt's turmoil on General Sisi, who "seized power from a democratically elected government. He controls the security forces that have persecuted and brutalized political opponents." Yet Egypt was a failing, decaying wreck of a nation under religious rule, which, as was to be expected, showed outright hostility to democratic pluralism as well as an utter indifference to competent governance. God, it seems, wasn't great enough to rescue Egypt's economy or pound some semblance of real national brotherhood into President Morsi's head. The new government is indeed brutal--but this government, unlike Morsi's, is likely to survive. So the U.S. should alienate it through a feeble gesture of aid-suspension?
Nonetheless it appears that President Obama has few choices, which range from the wretched to the odious to the worthless.
Post-news conference update: Classic Obama. He went halfway, which wasn't right, but it wasn't wrong, either. His options were that bad. Still, I imagine there'll be more to come.