Obama Misspeaks on Egypt Relationship Or does he ?

  • #1
russ_watters
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Obama Misspeaks on Egypt Relationship.... Or does he...?

"I don't think that we consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said Wednesday in an interview with the Spanish language network Telemundo. "They are a new government that is trying to find its way," he said. "They were democratically elected."
http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/13/what-to-call-egypts-relationship-with-the-u-s/?hpt=hp_t2

But....
"The president, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly." Carney said. "We do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt. Ally is a legal term of art. As I said, we do not have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt, like we do, for example, with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is a long-standing and close partner of the United States."

But it was only in April when Carney referred to Egypt as an "important ally" of the United States during a briefing with reporters at the White House.

And when pressed about Obama's comments on Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland conceded the United States still referred to Egypt as a major non-NATO ally – a designation given to certain countries outside the Atlantic alliance that maintain a robust relationship with the U.S. military.
A cynical person might say Obama was lying, since official US policy is his and he directly contradicted it. Considering the treatment Romney has been getting, I'd consider that fair turnabout. A charitable person might say he was coyly announcing a change in official position. Or that it really was just a simple misspeak (didn't actually mean what he said). I think, whether he meant to say it or not, it represents a truth: Egypt doesn't have our back, even if official policy is that we consider that they do.

As can be seen from the CNN article, though, this one is being treated charitably by the media, a consideration not granted to Romney.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #3
russ_watters
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What policy did he contradict?
The state department's statements I quoted/paraphrased that say Egypt is our ally. That last line is a paraphrase, but it is an explicit repudiation:

Obama: "I don't think that we consider them an ally..."
DOS paraphrase: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland conceded the United States still referred to Egypt as a major non-NATO ally
 
  • #4
Evo
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The state department's statements I quoted/paraphrased that say Egypt is our ally. That last line is a paraphrase, but it is an explicit repudiation:

Obama: "I don't think that we consider them an ally..."
DOS paraphrase: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland conceded the United States still referred to Egypt as a major non-NATO ally
I agree, he goofed. Sounds like he might have accidently let the rabbit out of the hat a bit there on what's going on behind the scenes? IMO. Right now the new Government of Egypt is still an "unknown".

President Barack Obama says he will decide whether Egypt is an ally or an enemy of the United States in part according to the way the fledgling government in Cairo responds to the violent assault on the American Embassy there, which happened on Monday.

"Certainly in this situation what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected," Obama said. "And if they take actions that indicate they're not taking responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that's going to be a real big problem."

The president—his handling of the so-called "Arab Spring" under fresh scrutiny after attacks on American diplomatic posts in Egypt, Libya and Yemen—had been asked by Telemundo whether he sees Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's government as an ally.

"I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy. They're a new government that is trying to find its way," Obama replied in what, by the standards of diplomatic talk, amounted to a blunt warning.
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/obama-warns-egypt-ally-enemy-140958144--election.html
 
  • #5
russ_watters
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I agree, he goofed.
Pretty big goof, isn't it, to say someone isn't an ally when they are? Particularly considering the tension in the relationship.
Sounds like he might have accidently let the rabbit out of the hat a bit there on what's going on behind the scenes?
Perhaps.

By the way, is a "goof" automatically assumed to be a lie? Should I change the title of the thread to be more accurate?
 
  • #6
Evo
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Pretty big goof, isn't it, to say someone isn't an ally when they are? Particularly considering the tension in the relationship. Perhaps.

By the way, is a "goof" automatically assumed to be a lie? Should I change the title of the thread to be more accurate?
Well, if he had said "Egypt is not an ally", yes, a lie.

He said though ""I don't think that we consider them an ally", here on the forum, that would be an "IMO". :tongue:

Either way I consider it a goof. If he said it as a veiled threat... I know it's been analyzed saying that it was ok, but that was just one analyst.
 
  • #7
Ygggdrasil
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The statements made by CNN seem to reflect a lack of understanding of the situation in Egypt. As anyone who has been following the revolution in Egypt knows, the situation in that country has changed fairly dramatically since April. In April 2012, Egypt was still under control by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which had been ruling since Mubarak stepped down. In June 2012, the second round of presidential elections occurred and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, won. He was inaugurated on June 30.

Given the rapidly changing and volatile nature of the situation in Egypt (the country still lacks a constitution, and it is still unclear who is in charge, Morsi or SCAF), one would suspect that US relations with Egypt remain similarly unsettled. While Obama's statements may not necessarily reflect official US policy (if such a policy exists), they certainly reflect reality. Statements made in April about Egypt when the country was under different leadership should not constrain Obama's current policy toward Morsi's Egypt.
 
  • #8
BobG
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Given the rapidly changing and volatile nature of the situation in Egypt (the country still lacks a constitution, and it is still unclear who is in charge, Morsi or SCAF), one would suspect that US relations with Egypt remain similarly unsettled. While Obama's statements may not necessarily reflect official US policy (if such a policy exists), they certainly reflect reality. Statements made in April about Egypt when the country was under different leadership should not constrain Obama's current policy toward Morsi's Egypt.
I agree. It's pretty tough to consider a country an ally when you're afraid any diplomats you send there will be killed.

By the same token, a country doesn't have to be an ally in order for us to have relations with them or to even offer some support. Sometimes treating a country as an ally just sets unrealistic expectations.
 
  • #9
DavidSnider
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As can be seen from the CNN article, though, this one is being treated charitably by the media, a consideration not granted to Romney.
Who are 'the media'? There are plenty of media outlets that are far more than charitable to Romney. I think it's time to stop pretending that Fox News is a pirate radio station.
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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Who are 'the media'? There are plenty of media outlets that are far more than charitable to Romney. I think it's time to stop pretending that Fox News is a pirate radio station.
I'd absolutely be in favor of that. Here on PF, though, it seems that Fox is considered the fringe. The mainstream is considered to be outlets like CNN, NBC, CBS.
 
  • #11
Astronuc
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I'd absolutely be in favor of that. Here on PF, though, it seems that Fox is considered the fringe. The mainstream is considered to be outlets like CNN, NBC, CBS.
FOX is as mainstream as CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS. I can be skeptical and doubt the credibility of each and all.
 
  • #12
Pythagorean
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If it comes from a television and there's commercials in between it, it's probably not as information-driven as entertainment-driven, as ratings are the bottom line.
 
  • #13
BobG
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I'd absolutely be in favor of that. Here on PF, though, it seems that Fox is considered the fringe. The mainstream is considered to be outlets like CNN, NBC, CBS.
Actually, I'd go the other way and include MSNBC along with Fox as out on the fringe. I guess one thing you can say for both is they don't falsely pretend to be neutral, so the viewer at least knows what they're getting.
 
  • #14
Pythagorean
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I want to say CNN is more neutral, but only because of Anderson Cooper grilling Debbie.
 
  • #15


None of the major American news outlets can be trusted. I watch Fox primarily to get a sense of what the enemy is planning, and to recognize how desperate they are. I get a lot of my news from Al Jazeera. They are very trustworthy except when it comes to Palestine and Israel.

On topic: Obama didn't misspeak. I wouldn't consider Egypt an "ally", either before or after Mubarak was ousted. The Egyptians haven't entirely thrown off military rule yet. They're an unknown. What Obama said was an accurate assessment of our relations with the new government: not a friend, not a foe.
 
  • #16
SixNein
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I'm very worried about the state of affairs in the middle east. There exists efforts to install democracies over there; however, there is also a very large push to install theocracies. In general, the middle east seems to be in conflict on which way to go. The literal fundamentalists want a very different kind of government then the secularist. Whoever wins that conflict will decide the fate of the middle east.


I can't believe nobody mentioned NPR.
 
  • #17
DavidSnider
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Actually, I'd go the other way and include MSNBC along with Fox as out on the fringe. I guess one thing you can say for both is they don't falsely pretend to be neutral, so the viewer at least knows what they're getting.
Erm, "Fair and Balanced" is the slogan of Fox News.
 
  • #18


Erm, "Fair and Balanced" is the slogan of Fox News.
What, you didn't catch the wink wink, nudge nudge? Fox News is so blatantly partisan, no one really pretends they're fair and balanced. The only justifications I've seen on that end have involved comparing Fox to the rest of the "liberal media", thus Fox becomes something of a counterweight. Ridiculous if you ask me. Not even MSNBC is that partisan.
 
  • #19
BobG
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I think this article captures the changes in relationships that have occurred because of the "Arab Spring".

As Arab countries become more democratic, their leaders will have to reflect the attitudes and goals of their people. It's unrealistic to expect the US to have a close relationship with a country's government when the people in that country have goals incompatible with US goals.

I think the wave of protests sweeping Arab countries reflect that. It's just inconceivable that all of this is simply a response to the world's worst video, which also happens to be offensive. How could this movie possibly move more people than Helen of Troy?

You watch this video and think that people have already died because of it; that, depending on what happens in the Middle East, this may be the most significant movie made in the history of mankind, and you immediately want to go have yourself drug tested. Reality has wandered down a very strange road over the last week.

These protests reflect underlying bad feelings towards the US and the Western world in general - not this video.

That's a problem that the US is going to have to solve, work around, or just accept regardless of who becomes President.

It's also a problem for Israel. In a Middle East controlled by governments, and not by people, the Israel-Palestinian problem was easier to handle.

The world changes. US relationships change as well.
 
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  • #20
mheslep
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I'm very worried about the state of affairs in the middle east. There exists efforts to install democracies over there; however, there is also a very large push to install theocracies. In general, the middle east seems to be in conflict on which way to go. The literal fundamentalists want a very different kind of government then the secularist. Whoever wins that conflict will decide the fate of the middle east.


I can't believe nobody mentioned NPR.
NPR
 
  • #21
mheslep
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These protests reflect underlying bad feelings towards the US and the Western world in general - not this video.
The relevant question is the bad feelings of who or which group? The majority of those countries, or anywhere close to it? I don't think so.

The Westboro Baptists have bad feelings towards the US as well, and from what I'm reading I see many of the protesters abroad having more in common with the Westboro Baptists and the KKK than the majority of those in their countries. The Westboro Baptists can all catch the next bus out of the country, and to the extent I'm right about the embassy attackers they can get on the same bus.
 
  • #22
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The relevant question is the bad feelings of who or which group? The majority of those countries, or anywhere close to it? I don't think so.
I have seen lots of immigrants in Canada from Arab and East Asia but I never came across one who had good feelings for US (or for western interference in other parts of the world).
 
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  • #23
mheslep
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I have seen lots of immigrants in Canada from Arab and East Asia but I never came across one who had good feelings for US (or for western interference in other parts of the world).
And they came to the West why? Seems to me they're voting with their feet. As have the millions of muslims that have come to the US, including the US President's father.

What do you imagine is the *general* opinion in Libya of US and NATO support of the fight against Qaddafi?
 
  • #24
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And they came to the West why? Seems to me they're voting with their feet. As have the millions of muslims that have come to the US, including the US President's father.
I am not going to argue over why people immigrate.

I only gave you personal account for what kinds of opinions people outside US have because that's what you asked. Ideally it would be best to see the statistics for US support in the Arab world to answer your question.
 
  • #25
mheslep
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I am not going to argue over why people immigrate.

I only gave you personal account for what kinds of opinions people outside US have because that's what you asked. Ideally it would be best to see the statistics for US support in the Arab world to answer your question.
And I'm wondering why these accounts did not immediately raise the question of, "so then what motivated you to come here?"

Ideally it would be best to observe how the majority act.
 

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