As administration officials mull a response to the turmoil in Egypt, conservative foreign policy experts and commentators remain divided over the question of U.S. aid and how to deal with the military following its takeover and the recent bloodshed.

Those who favor continuing aid cite the need to protect key U.S. regional interests, topped by a secure Suez Canal and the Egypt-Israel peace treaty – interests more likely to be safeguarded by the Egyptian military than the Muslim Brotherhood administration it overthrew on July 3.

Closely linked to this is the view that the aid – more than $70 billion between 1948 and 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service – has afforded the U.S. crucial leverage with the leadership in Cairo, and will continue to do so.

Proponents of retaining the financial support include those who argue that while neither side of the Egyptian divide is close to ideal, the military and the interim government it installed are a better option than a return of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Politics in Egypt today is a zero-sum game: Either the military wins, or the Brotherhood does,” Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens wrote on Monday. “If the U.S. wants influence, it needs to hold its nose and take a side.”

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