The July 18 editorial “Words without deeds” contended that, because Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was ousted with the military’s support, U.S. law banning “assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’etat or decree” applies.
But the law does not impair the president’s inherent power to do what is necessary in the interests of U.S. national security. The president’s authority under various legislation — including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act — overrides any legalistic interpretation of the word “coup” as extending beyond a purely military “putsch.”
The consequences of U.S. withdrawal of military aid to Egypt would be calamitous for U.S. foreign policy in the region. Recently, the Arab League endorsed the end of Mr. Morsi’s rule to prevent Egypt from going down a dark hole. True, this episode does not conform to U.S. notions of democratic rule, but it is the standard that prevails in the region. Surely on an issue of such importance to the United States, and Egypt’s vital interests, the president’s discretionary powers in handling foreign crises should prevail.
Allan Gerson, Washington
The writer was deputy assistant attorney general for legal counsel from 1985 to 1986.