The Egyptian military’s decision to give President Mohamed Mursi 48 hours to restore order presents U.S. policy makers with a dilemma.

The ultimatum yesterday by Abdelfatah Al-Seesi, the defense minister and head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, could force the Obama administration to choose between backing Egypt’s democratically elected leader and supporting military action aimed at halting chaos and blocking any move by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood allies to impose strict Islamic rule.