Disclosure: What I know about Egypt makes me no expert and this is more about reactions I'm having, and questions that have been bouncing around my head after reading some of the editorial opinions in the traditional media. In the comments please share your expertise and/or help me correct any ignorance on display below.
Not too many years ago the idea of an army subverting a democratically elected government in my mind was clearly wrong. I slowly began to move away from that absolutist view and I've recognized that this is not at all black and white. Recent political analyses of coups since 1991 have shown a more complicated situation. The end of the Cold War had enormous geo-political consequences. The recently published analysis by Nikolay Marinov and Hein Goemans of Yale and the University of Rochester, respectively, found that most coups since 1991 have led to competitive elections. This was most likely to happen to countries dependent on Western aid. We give the Egyptian military a 1.3 billion dollar annual grant so I think they fit this criteria.
Many of the reactions to the coup I've read have been upset that a democratic government was overthrown. I'm not seeing them explore some key questions: How democratic was the government in Egypt? Should elections bind a people to misrule and a movement towards dictatorship until the next election? The direction that the Morsi government was moving made it rational to expect that the next election would be a sham (like the way his constitution was pushed through). Should a people wait for years as their "democratic" leader expands executive power and claims supremacy over the judiciary (which Morsi had already done)? Looking back on Bush the Dumber's reelection I remember how horrible I felt for most Americans, for Iraqis, Afghanis, and many others around the world. I cringed at the thought of four more years of the destruction of democratic institutions, the handing over of government to crony contractors, and another huge increase in income inequality (among many other nasty things). Did I hope for a coup? Not at all--and I still wouldn't because of the nature of our military and the citizens of the USA. But imagine that it did happen, that elections were held within a year, and that the wrongs of the previous 4-5 years were addressed then instead of starting in 2009. A lot of harm might have been prevented. Obviously this is a counter-factual fantasy but can you see the allure?
Egypt does not have experience with democracy. That they are struggling with it is no surprise to me. It will be messy at first--just as it was at the beginning of the USA. The Egyptian military is not the same as Idi Amin's military, or Pakistan's military, or our military. They seem to have closer ties to the Egyptian people in general, not a military/security/corporate complex, or a narrow elite, or one strongman. If I were to compare them to any other country's military it would be Turkey's. The past has many examples of governments who lose the allegiance of the security forces because the people no longer see them as legitimate. No one knows how this will turn out, but as usual the traditional media doesn't probe these complexities. They are not teaching us about the socio-political context of these momentous events, and their readers don't have to think or ask themselves complicated questions. What does it mean when tens of millions of citizens take to the streets? Every one of them probably represented another 10 who were staying at home. It takes a lot of mistreatment to get that many people out into the streets. Back in 1775 the elites in the old world looked at the colonial upstarts across the Atlantic as ungrateful savages--uncultured and primitive. The common people of Europe (especially in Britain and France) saw it differently because they were living under repressive governments, they felt powerless, and those rebellious colonists gave them something to hope for.
In the future I'd prefer that military coups would be the absolute last resort and ideally that they completely disappear. In the meantime this might be exactly what Egypt needs to get a functioning democracy off the ground. I sure hope so. The people are demanding a change and the power and legitimacy of the state ultimately comes from them.