The administration is right to deplore excessive violence and urge reconciliation.
But let's not fool ourselves into believing this is possible in any near future. Sissi crossed his Rubicon with the coup. It will either succeed or not.
To advocate a middle way is to invite endless civil strife.
The best outcome would be a victorious military magnanimously offering, at some later date, to reintegrate the more moderate elements of what's left of the Brotherhood.
But for now, we should not be cutting off aid, civilian or military, as many in Congress are demanding.
It will have no effect, buy no influence and win no friends on either side of the Egyptian divide.
We should instead be urging the quick establishment of a new Cabinet of technocrats, rapidly increasing its authority as the soldiers gradually return to their barracks.
Generals are very bad at governance. Give the reins to people who actually know something.
And charge them with reviving the economy and preparing the foundations for a democratic transition — most importantly, drafting a secular constitution that protects the rights of women and minorities.
The final step on that long democratic path should be elections.
After all, we've been here. Through a half-century of cold war, we repeatedly faced precisely the same dilemma: choosing the lesser evil between totalitarian (in that case, communist) and authoritarian (usually military) rule.
We generally supported the various militaries in suppressing the communists.
That was routinely pilloried as a hypocritical and immoral betrayal of our alleged allegiance to liberty. But in the end, it proved the prudent, if troubled, path to liberty.
The authoritarian regimes we supported — in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Chile, Brazil, even Spain and Portugal (ruled by fascists until the mid-1970s!) — in time yielded democratic outcomes.
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, after 16 years of iron rule, yielded to U.S. pressure and allowed a free election — which he lost, ushering in Chile's current era of democratic flourishing.
How many times have communists or Islamists allowed that to happen?
Regarding Egypt, rather than emoting, we should be thinking: what's best for Egypt, for us and for the possibility of some eventual democratic future.
Under the Brotherhood, such a possibility is zero. Under the generals, slim.
Slim trumps zero.
Charles Krauthammer's email address is lett...@