Former Ambassador: 'Greatest Crisis Egypt Has Faced' In Decades07:03
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Egyptian protesters shout anti-Muslim brotherhood slogans as they hold posters depicting U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and President Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, June 28, 2013. (Amr Nabil/AP)
Egyptian protesters shout anti-Muslim brotherhood slogans as they hold posters depicting U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and President Mohammed Morsi in Tahrir Square, the focal point of Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, June 28, 2013. (Amr Nabil/AP)

As the crisis deepens in Egypt, the Obama administration faces difficult choices.

"This is an impossible situation for any administration to face," Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. Ambassador to Greece, told Here & Now.

Burns says the administration is weighing whether to pursue a path that would help along American strategic interests in the Middle East — Egypt is a key ally — or whether to take a path that supports American beliefs in democracy and human rights.

Burns says the Obama administration is weighing the following question: "Do we have enough influence and leverage left that we might — behind the scenes — be able to push the Egyptian military to stop killing people in the streets and take a more intelligent posture of trying to repair some of these divisions," he said.

Burns believes the U.S. still can influence the Egyptian military, but it will not be patient forever.

"If there are no results, then I think we are heading toward a severing of this relationship that we've had for 30 - 35 years with the Egyptian military," Burns said.

The next step the U.S. can take if the Egyptian military continues to use violence against its detractors, is either diminishing or completely cutting off aid to Egypt, Burns said.

"It is probably the greatest crisis Egypt has faced well in many decades," Burns said.

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Guest

  • Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Ambassador to Greece and a veteran Foreign Service Officer. He now teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School.

This segment aired on August 16, 2013.

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