Mona & The Chattering Class

As Mona Eltahawy was listing off how momentous an event Egypt's uprising has been, and how it may signal a change in the way the United States approaches the Arab countries in the Middle East, siding with the peoples of that region rather than the dictators, the CNN pundits throw some cold water on such idealistic notions.
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As Mona Eltahawy was listing off how momentous an event Egypt's uprising has been, and how it may signal a change in the way the United States approaches the Arab countries in the Middle East, siding with the peoples of that region rather than the dictators, the CNN pundits throw some cold water on such idealistic notions.

GLORIA BORGER: Well I'm not so sure about that. There's always going to be realpolitik in U.S. foreign policy.

...and she lists off the relationships with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Syria as evidence. Ever helpful Candy Crowley chimes in that the "experts" she talks to in the State Department have told her that the conditions in Egypt were unique and not likely to be replicated elsewhere in the region. Oddly enough though, those same experts never saw Tunisia or Egypt becoming anything like they have. Funny about that.

Full transcript via CNN below the fold.

BLITZER: Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley are here. Mona and Fouad are standing by. But Gloria, the president, I think he's getting pretty good reviews for his comments today. And I think, except for a few Republicans, he's getting pretty good marks for the way he's handled this crisis.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, this wasn't easy. You know, this is -- 30 years of history, close history with Mubarak in this country. And the administration, you know, started out by saying that Mubarak was stable and then kept moving and changing. It was such a fluid and dramatic situation. Of course, we tend to judge these things by outcomes. And the truth of the matter is this is a fabulous outcome, but we don't know what comes next. And that's what they're doing in the White House.

BLITZER: In the short term, Candy, from the U.S. perspective, very positive development.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: This was as good as it was going to get, really.

BLITZER: Some people were fearing, you know, that there would be the Muslim Brotherhood taking over.

CROWLEY: Or that there would be riots in the streets; there'd be, you know, a lot of bloodletting, that Mubarak would stay on forever. And they really got the best situation.

Now how much did they have to do with that and how much was -- simply was the power of those few people sitting in the square? I think they'll argue forever. But nonetheless, they got exactly -- they got the best they could ask for.

BLITZER: Let me ask Fouad Ajami at Johns Hopkins University. Fouad, I know you've been critical of this administration, earlier administrations, but you see it -- you call it as you see it. What do you think?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Look, I think this has always been from the beginning an Egyptian drama. Our government caught up with a storm, in fact. It really wasn't about Barack Obama. It wasn't about even George W. Bush's freedom agenda. This was the Egyptian people bringing their pharaoh, bringing their autocrat to account.

In the end, President Obama did what he needed to do. And I think the moral example, the example we had and the power we had had to do with reigning in the military, making sure there is no Tiananmen Square in Cairo, in Tahrir Square. And that's considerable moral influence and political influence.

BLITZER: When you heard the president speak today, the president of the United States, Mona, I think you were moved, weren't you?

MONA ELTAHAWY: I was, because it's exactly what I hoped he would say. I mean, we spoke earlier, and you asked me what I would like him to say. And he focused exactly on this beautiful nonviolent pure revolution.

And you know, I mentioned earlier the toppling of all these stereotypes of Arabs. Here's another thing that Egyptian sisters and brothers, my people I'm so proud of, have toppled. They have toppled this fear that Hosni Mubarak has been using all along to silence western allies about "It's either me or these crazy radicals."

But they're also toppling, and this, I think, is what President Obama addressed today. They're also toppling a foreign policy that always chose the dictator versus the people. And I think what the message behind President Obama's speech today was U.S. foreign policy, as it now wakes up to what's happening, Hosni Mubarak is the Berlin Wall today that fell.

U.S. foreign policy now is looking ahead and thinking. It serves us best to side with the people, because that is the best way to find stability. Because a stable country is not a country suffocated by a dictator. A stable country is a democratic, free country with people who are happy and free. I think this is what we're seeing come -- this is what we will see from -- as a result of the speech today, thanks to the revolution in Egypt.

BORGER: Well, I'm not so sure about that. I mean, I think that there's always going to be realpolitik in our foreign policy. And I don't think that the United States is looking to change its good relationship, its good relationship, for example, with Jordan right now.

But they are looking to see how can they make the Saudis be less upset? We're very upset about this. What's going to happen in Iran? What's going to happen in Syria? I mean, obviously, the whole chess table is very different right now.

CROWLEY: I talked to a couple of experts today about this. What next? What will we see fall? Look at the -- across the Arab world. There's dictators. There's autocrats. And they really looked said these are all so different that I don't see anything imminent here. Oh, it went from Tunisia to Egypt, and now it goes, you know, to X, Y or Z.

They just -- you know, we sort of went through a number of the countries. And they said, "I just don't see it" because of the very different circumstances in so many of these places.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to continue, obviously, our analysis and our coverage. The breaking news out of Cairo right now, out of all of Egypt, in fact. Mubarak is gone. There's a new day in Egypt.

We'll be right back.

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