In one sense of course it isn't America's election in Egypt at all. Some mainly though not exclusively on the Left will argue that to even think such a thing is the actual problem in American foreign policy.
Yet, America has provided and provides a large amount of economic and military assistance to the Egyptian state, and has done so moreover in pursuit of the vital end of peace between Israel and Egypt, the last time such peace having failed generated mobilization of six divisions of Russian paratroopers, massive Russian fleet movements with tactical nuclear weapons, and an American move to DEFCON 3; that's what happened in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
Thus, one way or another America has an interest in the Egyptian elections, and so it is rather a question of what that interest actually is and how we pursue that interest.
The Muslim Brotherhood candidate was leading the race in the early returns, and yet who one might call the "regime candidate" allegedly pulled ahead, and all the while there was the curious episode with Mubarak's health, one day on life support, the other vanishing from discussion.
Meanwhile large crowds have gathered at the site of the protests against Mubarak at Tahrir Square, awaiting an announcement from the military as to who won the election that was supposed to have been made Thursday.
Obviously, America would prefer a government in Egypt that was familiarly democratic in the sense we know it, and yet that isn't going to be the case in many ways with the Muslim Brotherhood, if not in all ways.
As to women, what the Brotherhood will want objectively speaking will stick in the craw of many Americans, and yet, is military rule better as to human rights, overall?
Similarly, if there is a Brotherhood government, whatever protestations that they may make, clearly they will be less friendly to Israel than Mubarak was, if most Egyptians thought him an Israeli puppet, and hated him because of that in not a small number of cases, always the argument for Israel to come to a deal with the Palestinians, if that takes two to tango too.
When you look at the real choices in Egypt, it has a decent case of being lose-lose for the United States.
We lose if we greenlight a full coup, as to being hypocrites, which might be necessary if things get ugly with the announcement of a Shafiq victory, as Brotherhood candidate Morsi's supporters may well take to the streets in a violent fashion and then go underground like the FIS did in Algeria.
30,000 people died in Algeria when that happened, best case.
Of course, such talk could be a bluff, if Sadat was killed by Brothers who took that path, a path also trodden by four of those on planes a certain day, and by Ayman al Zawahari, now in charge of Al Qaeda too.
If we become more of a target for Arab and Muslim hatred for having encouraged a bloody coup, bound to be perceived in certain quarters as at the behest of the Israelis and their supporters, the blowback factor would be high: lose.
And yet, if we greenlight the full transfer of power to the Muslim Brotherhood, that may well lead to a rise in Islamists everywhere greater than what has transpired to date, and in fact generate more conflict with Israel, which would be possibly an even more dangerous form of blowback too, if all of this again points to the interest in a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, if there's not the slightest hint of that in the card now: the march of folly.
How you chose says a lot about who you are, in that you either accept the risk of being a naive fool or a bitter old man, in effect.
So which will we, and which would you?
I would take the chance, in that it creates strategic pressure on Israel to do a deal, if it also creates an even greater need to put a gun to Iran's head that is real too, i.e. actual military deployments to Diego Garcia, as the last thing we need is an Israel that sees a Brotherhood Egypt, pressure for the "Brotherization" of Syria, and any vacillation with Iran, if the Arabs then have to pressure and give Abbas cover, or we will all regret the Arab Spring soon enough.