Crazy Foreign Conspiracy Theories
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A few days ago, the government of Egypt released American "democracy activists," including cabinet secretary Ray Lahood's son, in return for $5 million in bail and continued U.S. foreign aid. So, it looks like everybody's happy.

I didn't want to mention this while the poor guys were held up in a foreign country, but just from reading about the International Republican Institute on Wikipedia, where Sam Lahood works, it hardly seems surprising that the Egyptian government considers it a front for U.S. government meddling in Egyptian politics. After all, most of IRI's money comes from the U.S. government, its figurehead chairman is John McCain, and it's stocked with Republican politicians and ex-government officials. Young Lahood, for example, had worked for the State Department in Iraq, which I can't imagine the Egyptians found reassuring. (The Democrats have their own taxpayer-supported National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.) 

There aren't quite as many coups these days as there used to be, but IRI seems to have lurked around some of them, such as Haiti in 2004 and perhaps Honduras in 2009. All in all, this seems like a better way to Play the Game than with cruise missiles, but Americans shouldn't be terribly surprised when foreign governments view IRI's employees more as American agents than as humanitarians. 

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