Egypt isn’t Iran; Obama isn’t Carter. In some respects, Obama has steered a very different course from Carter’s a generation ago. Carter stood by Iran’s doomed shah for months before scrambling to look for alternatives; Obama bluntly told Mubarak his time was up after only a week of demonstrations in Tahrir Square. And unlike Carter, Obama has a strategy; he’s placing his bets on Egypt’s military command to oversee a peaceful change of power.
For all these reasons, Obama has a far better chance of seeing a benign outcome in Cairo than Carter did in Tehran. Still, no matter how well the Obama administration plays its hand, there are plenty of ways the situation in Egypt can go bad. And if it does, the president almost certainly will be blamed.