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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Interview with Al Jazeera *updated*

February 15, 2011

She taped this yesterday. I have the transcripts for the other interviews that I’ll post later (kinda short on time right now):

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, first of all, thank you for talking to Al Jazeera at the State Department. As you know, the Egyptian army, the supreme council of the armed forces in Egypt, have announced certain steps following the success of the revolution, as many Egyptians call it. And yet there is still some skepticism among many Egyptians that these measures are not enough. Where do you stand on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that where we stand is with the Egyptian people. We want to be a good partner and friend as they make this transition. Three weeks ago, no one would have guessed that so much could have happened that would have been so responsive to the needs and aspirations that we heard coming from Tahrir Square. And now, like so many kinds of movements for change, the hard work of actually putting into place the steps that are necessary must be pursued, and it needs to be pursued as expeditiously as possible with as broad and inclusive a group of Egyptians involved. But we’re just at the beginning of the transition.

QUESTION: What would you say is the most positive step that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has announced so far?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that first of all, the role that the army played during the last weeks as a guarantor of the Egyptian state, as a institution that was well-respected by the Egyptian people, was absolutely essential. Contrast what happened in Egypt with what is going on today in Iran where, once again, the Iranian Government is lashing out, using violence against people who are expressing the same desires as we heard from Egypt.

So I have a lot of sympathy for what has already occurred in Egypt, but I have a sense of realism about what it’s going to take to move forward. So far, what the supreme council has announced is in keeping with what they announced they would be doing, and in response to the desires of the Egyptian people and their demands. But I think everyone has to recognize that this transition where you have to rewrite a constitution, you have to pass new laws, you have to help form political parties – there’s a long to-do list, and everybody needs to be sort of focused on the task at hand. And that’s going to take an enormous amount of energy from everybody involved.

QUESTION: But you would have – one would have thought that because of the last three weeks of protests in Egypt, because of the discontent over about two decades about the issue of the state of emergency, that the first thing the army would do is to respond to the demands of young people and a lot of other Egyptians that it be lifted immediately. They haven’t done that yet. How do you – what would you counsel them to do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s not for me to counsel them. This is an Egyptian process that must be directed and defined by the Egyptian people. One of the demands, which we have supported for a long time, is to lift the emergency decree. There has been an announcement that that will be done, and we hope that it will be.

QUESTION: How soon would you want to see that happen, though?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to substitute my judgment sitting here in the very beautiful comfort of the State Department for what is going on in Egypt right now. I think it’s important that the United States and others who wish to see a positive outcome of this struggle by the Egyptian people to achieve their own democracy be supportive, but don’t pretend that we know more than what the people in Egypt know. And we want to see changes. We’ve been for that for many years, both publicly and privately. But now, thankfully, the future really is in the hands of Egyptians themselves.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m sure you’re aware of this. A lot of people in the Arab world, particularly in Egypt, listening to you now, especially those people who thought that the U.S. had sat on the fence before Mubarak fell, whether you agree with that description or not – they all say the U.S. Government is doing it again – when they’re asked to make a clear choice, a clear decision whether they support the army or the demonstrators, the U.S. Government is sitting on the fence again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to obviously object to that characterization. We were consistent and clear. We were against violence. We communicated that many times over and over again to every level in the Egyptian Government, and in particular to the army. We were in favor of the universal human rights of the Egyptian people, and we have long been in support of that and pushed the government to take reforms that would realize that. And we were in favor of political change. But I think it is inappropriate for us to do more than say what we have always said. We have said repeatedly the emergency law needs to be lifted. But now, this is a process that is being worked on by Egyptians.

The Mubarak era is over. There is a new effort that is just beginning, and I think it is an – it’s important that the United States be seen as supporting the transition to democracy, and that is where we stand. We are strongly in favor of it. We want to see it as soon as it can come. But we are also conscious that at many points in history, this incredible movement for change can be hijacked by external or internal forces that do not follow through on the promises made, do not realize the aspirations of the Egyptian people. So our goal is to keep our eye on the outcome. Let us get to democracy that will, once and for all, meet the needs of the Egyptian people and give Egypt a chance to serve as a model for the entire region that needs desperately to see that.

QUESTION: Now, what would you say to assuage the concerns of many Egyptians who say that this was supposed to be a revolution to actually get rid of military rule which has ruled Egypt for 30 years, and now they see that it is the army – at least for the foreseeable future – that is managing the affairs of the country and we have concerns about that? What would you say to them that they do not necessarily have to be concerned?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that they need to keep up their political involvement and the real strength of their movement to get the changes necessary. I mean, those changes have been promised now. They need to be delivered on. And there needs to be broad-based inclusive representation going forward. So, different groups within Egyptian society have to step forward to take responsibility toward working in a unified way to achieve the goals that have all been set.

It is not going to work merely to stand on the outside and say, “We don’t like this and we don’t like that.” We now have the chance for broad-based participation. People need to step forward and make their views known and be part of getting this process moving so that all these timelines and these milestones about ending the emergency law, reforming the constitution, getting the laws for political parties, preparing for the elections – there’s a big effort. As big an effort as went into bringing us to this point will be replicated in achieving the outcomes that we seek.

QUESTION: And yet to many of these people, there are just – quoted to you – the fact that Egypt continues to be run by the army for the foreseeable future, the fact that even the civilian side of the government in Egypt was actually inherited from the Mubarak regime – many of them are described as his cronies. How concerned are you about that being either the reality or the perception?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, it is the opportunity to work through what exists now. What is the alternative? There was very – there are very good ideas being floated around about what could be the next step. But it is not for the United States, it is not for any other government, it is not for the media, it is not for those outside to dictate to the Egyptian people how they intend to proceed. There are some excellent conversations going on. We know that there is an effort to try to coalesce around certain ways forward that the opposition can all support. That’s what should happen.

But let’s take a little perspective here. It’s been less than three weeks, or just barely three weeks, and revolutions in and of themselves don’t produce the outcome that is sought. It is: Okay, now that you’ve achieved the goal of changing the government, what happens next? That is where Egypt is, and that is what the Egyptian people have to lead us through.

QUESTION: My time is up. I was wondering if there is time for one more question —

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Sure.

QUESTION: — just broad-based, if I may. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary.

The United States has invested in the Egyptian army, it has invested in cooperation with the Egyptian army for 30 years. Given what the situation is in Egypt and given that the role it is playing – the role the army is playing in Egyptian politics today, would you say that the U.S. investment in the Egyptian army has been a success story?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, history will have to judge that, but I think that the relationships that developed over all those years between the leadership of the United States military and leadership of the Egyptian military made it possible for there to be continuing communications. It was a message that was delivered from many different sources – do not use violence against your own people – that was very readily received. It’s not like the United States had to tell the Egyptian military. They wanted to defend the Egyptian people, and I think they performed in an extraordinary way.

Contrast it to Iran, where the government has turned against the people. They’re more than happy to talk about look at what’s going on in Egypt, but when their opposition, when their young people try to express themselves, they come down with brutality. They have a record of such abuse and excess. Contrast that with the Egyptian military. I would bet on the process that the Egyptian military has announced going forward as being a pathway to a different future, whereas I look with such dismay at what Iran continues to do and just feel – my heart goes out to the Iranian people.

QUESTION: And yet the Egyptian army is accused of having – or it’s the Egyptian security forces are accused of having killed more Egyptians than the Iranian army Iranians.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think there’s any basis for that. I think that – as some of the leading protesters in Egypt themselves said, any loss of life is deeply regrettable, and certainly under those circumstances. But given what has been accomplished and the great opportunity for the Egyptian people now, it is something that Egyptians themselves say, “We now have it in our hands.” The Iranian people cannot say that.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

You can see her interview with Al Aribiya English here.

Transcript of the interview with Al Aribiya:

QUESTION: Okay. Madam Secretary, I really appreciate this opportunity.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: We have very little time. Let me start. There was conflicting messages coming from the White House and the State Department. The White House initially said (inaudible) now – and now means yesterday – then in the second week, (inaudible) said that change may take time, then try to – Frank Wisner (inaudible) policy. Surely, your audiences in this country and abroad were kind of confused. Why the disconnect?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I don’t think there was a disconnect. I think there was a consistent message that, from beginning to end, was very clear. Number one, we were against violence, and we said that to everyone. We sent that message very directly to the Government of Egypt and to the military. Number two, that we respected the universal human rights and the aspirations of the Egyptian people, and thought that they needed to be responded to and recognized by their own government. And number three, that we were supporting political change.

Now, I think that it is clear that as we went through the week – the weeks leading up to the rather dramatic departure of President Mubarak, the United States – no outside power or influence was determining what happened inside Egypt. This was all about the Egyptian people, and I think the Egyptian people themselves made it clear that they wanted no violence, they wanted their human rights respected, and they wanted a transition to democracy, which is pretty much in line with what we’ve been advocating.

So now, we are at a point where we see this historic, heroic effort by the Egyptian people, which we are very much in support of.

QUESTION: Okay. Some people are wondering that – kind of particular messages that (inaudible), that this was in part maybe a function of what you’ve been hearing, the anxiety that you heard from your friends in the region, the Arabs and Israelis who would caution you not to hasten the departure of Mubarak. To what extent did the views of your friends and allies in the region – were a factor in your decisions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have been saying for some time, and the President said it in his speech in Cairo in 2009, I said it many times, most recently in Doha —

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — that there had to be change in the Arab world, that the foundations were not stable, that they were sinking. And therefore, we wanted to urge our friends and partners to respond to the economic and political demands of their people. I don’t think anybody could have predicted we’d be sitting here talking about the end of the Mubarak presidency at the time that this all started.

But because we tried very hard to be a friend and partner to the Egyptian people during this, we told our many other friends in the region that change was inevitable. It was a question as to whether it would be positive change that would lead to a better outcome for the people, or negative, where these aspirations would be denied and the process would be hijacked. So we did our best to try to explain to our friends that there had to be some commitment to reform.

QUESTION: Our time is running out. Quickly, in (inaudible), you expressed concern that some groups within the Egyptian society may (inaudible) it’s taking place, insert their own parochial agenda. This was understood as a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Is the Brotherhood welcome at the table as President Obama hinted last week?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is up to the Egyptian people. They have to decide how they’re going to organize themselves. And I wasn’t just talking about internal —

QUESTION: Sure.

SECRETARY CLINTON: — challenges, but external challenges as well. We’ve seen this ironic hypocrisy coming from the Iranian regime that was trumpeting what was going on in Egypt and is now oppressing their own people. So it was an expression of what we’ve heard from – within Egypt and around the region, that – don’t let this process be hijacked by anyone. This must be in response to the Egyptian people’s desires.

QUESTION: The Egyptian military said now that they are lifting the emergency laws (inaudible) parliament free elections in a period of time. What guarantees do you have that they will deliver on their promises, given the track record of other militaries it should not (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, again, this is going to be left to the Egyptian people. We have offered whatever aid and assistance we can provide, any that is appropriate and requested. But this is an ongoing effort and there have been some good steps taken so far. But as you point out, the end of the road is what matters – where will this lead. And clearly, we hope and we are encouraging that the commitment to move toward a democratic transition with free and fair elections is not wavered from.

QUESTION: You are challenging the Iranian Government to allow the people to demonstrate and express themselves like the Egyptians. Would this be (inaudible) position of the American Government now, to allow – I mean, if you say the same thing, whether those who are demonstrating are Algerians or (inaudible) or Jordanians asking for their freedom or, for that matter, the Palestinians demonstrating and asking for their own (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we believe in peaceful demonstrations. We believe that politics should be influenced by nonviolence, and what we saw in Egypt proves that point, the extraordinary reaction of the young people in the streets. And so we are for basic human rights – freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.

At the same time, we do not want to see any interference with the rights of people to be able to express themselves. And we had said to our friends, you must respond to the needs of people. We are all connected up now. Young people are communicating across every boundary one can imagine. We’ve saw that in real time in Egypt, and we think that many of our friends are responding to these calls for reform, and we support that.

QUESTION: In your speech in Doha, you said that if there’s no reform, (inaudible) said that the foundation (inaudible) sinking in the sand. (Inaudible) the Algerians and the Yemenis and the Jordanians (inaudible). Those governments are under pressure now from (inaudible) public opinion. And a lot of people say that they don’t get it. What do you say?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that a lot of the leaders are trying to get it and trying to understand how to move forward on an economic and political reform agenda, and we support that. Change is always challenging. It doesn’t matter where it occurs. I mean, we have it in our own country where advocating for change and then translating it into reality takes time, and it can be a frustrating process. But in a democratic political system or in a reforming system, one has to be focused on the outcome, and stay with nonviolence, stay with the political process, be a partner in getting the reform agenda put into place. And that’s what we’re encouraging.

QUESTION: Okay. One final question. Lebanon received the (inaudible), essentially on nonpolitical, non-state actors, certainly (inaudible) support (inaudible). What would you say to that? What would your (inaudible) send a message to the (inaudible) on the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri? What would you say?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that there are many ways that a democracy can be hijacked. And having armed militias within a democratic state should not be permitted. And this has been a consistent American position that the state should be the guarantor of the integrity and authority of the state, and should have a monopoly on military power. So the situation unfortunately in Lebanon has developed so that there is this counterforce for the state in Hezbollah.

And it’s a great concern to us because the Lebanese people deserve better. They are such a vibrant, incredibly dynamic society, and they deserve to have their democracy respected and their voices heard, and not have one element of their society using the threat of force and the potential of violence to try to achieve political ends. And we strongly support the continuing investigation into the murder of Prime Minister Hariri and 22 others. We want to see the murderers brought to justice. There should be no impunity; there should be accountability and transparency. And we know that there is great pressure against that, which raises questions about what people have to fear. I mean, if you’re going to participate in a democracy, then you should want to enforce the law. So we will continue to strongly support the tribunal.

QUESTION: Unfortunately, our time is up. Secretary Clinton, I really appreciate it. Thanks again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Always good to talk to you, thank you.

UPDATE:Ok, this is the last of the transcripts. This is from al Hurra and they ask more wide-ranging regional questions:

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, first, thanks for your time. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said today that an earthquake is on the way in the Arab world (inaudible). Do you share or do you agree with this description?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think change is happening and it’s something that the United States and this Administration and I personally have advocated for, because we believe that it is in the best interest of not just the region and individual countries, but most importantly, the people, particularly the young people, that they have a chance to enjoy economic, political, democratic reform.

QUESTION: Will you – as the United States – will you adjust your policy or strategy towards the Middle East after this change?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We have consistently said the same thing, but it is obviously a challenge to communicate clearly in a time of great, momentous occurrences like this. We’ve said we are against violence by whoever; we are for the universal human rights of all people, and in particular over the last three weeks the Egyptian people; and we are for political change. In the speech that I gave in Doha toward the end of last year, I said that the foundations of the regimes were sinking into the sand. And I said it because it’s frustrating for us to watch good friends and watch talented people not be able to make the most out of their circumstances. And so I’m only hoping that we will see change from within, because that’s the only way it can occur.

QUESTION: When you ask the leaders to make reform and change their society, they didn’t change. They didn’t have enough time to change. But do you think they still have time to (inaudible) reform, to make that reform?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I think that in many different countries, a opening of the economic space and ending of corruption, a consultation with a broad base of civil society, moves toward political reform and eventual democracy, are all within the reach of every one of the governments in the region.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, yesterday and during the weekend you talked to international leaders about Egypt. Were you satisfied with the steps that the Egyptian military has taken, and how do you view that going forward (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is up to the Egyptian people, but certainly, the – our hope is that everything which has been promised – the end of the emergency law, the movement for constitutional reform, political parties being allowed, all of the pieces that constitute a real transition to democracy – will be implemented. And we’re going to continue to stand for that.

QUESTION: There are some opposition leaders in Egypt, they raised worries about the future role of the military. Do you share these worries?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important that the opposition and civil society come together around a set of demands as to what needs to be done, with a timetable, because clearly, the military has evidenced its desire to move in the right direction. But there needs to be continuing efforts by the opposition to help guide where Egypt is going. So I am hoping that we see out of the very diverse opposition that was present over the last three weeks some unifying that would come, not behind personalities, but behind specific demands that have to be met in order for the transition to succeed.

QUESTION: How do you respond to those in the Middle East that have said that the U.S. has abandoned its allies in the region?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we haven’t. In fact, we think part of being a good friend and partner is telling your friend and partner what you see happening. And for many years, both publicly and privately, Democrats and Republican presidents and administrations have delivered the same message to the Egyptian Government: There must be reform; there must be change.

We were not successful, and neither was the Egyptian opposition or civil society. And the pressure just built up, and then we saw the results over the last three weeks. So with our friends, we have a very consistent message: There has to be change. It is still very possible, in fact desirable, for that change to proceed in an orderly way, a peaceful way, but it has to produce results, particularly for young people.

QUESTION: After Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrations are taking place today in Algeria, Yemen, and Bahrain. What is your message to the protestors in these countries?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Remain peaceful, nonviolent. That is what worked so well in Egypt, and that’s what will work because it gives you a standing that is absolutely unimpeachable that you are going out and protesting but not using violent means. Continue to stand up for universal rights but recognize that change requires a process, and be willing to be part of that process.

QUESTION: President Ahmadinejad today has said that there will be a new Middle East after what happened in Egypt and there is no place – well, there is no place for the U.S. and Israel. What is your reaction to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I find it very ironic that Iran is trying to give lessons in democracy to anybody. Talk about a revolution that was hijacked; Iran is Exhibit A. What Iran is doing to its people, even as we speak, where there are protestors trying to have their voices heard in Iran who are being brutally suppressed by the Iranian security forces, I don’t think anyone in the Middle East – or frankly, anyone in the world – would look to Iran as an example for them. That is not where anybody wants to end up, where you are basically in a military dictatorship with a kind of theocratic overlay which doesn’t respond to the universal human rights of the Iranian people. So I don’t think there’s much to be learned or really in any way followed coming out of Iran when it comes to democracy.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) would happen to the (inaudible) peace process now? Is it on the shelf (inaudible)? What are you planning to do?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States continues to believe that moving toward a two-state solution is in the best interests of the Israelis and the Palestinians, the best interest of the region. And we are continuing to push that with both of our friends, the Palestinians and the Israelis. And we think that having a two-state solution would be a great tribute to what people are standing for, where you’ve got self-determination by the Palestinian people, a state of their own, and Israel is able to live securely in the neighborhood and contributing to the transformation of the region.

QUESTION: I have two more questions on Lebanon and Syria. On Syria, Syrian authorities (inaudible) five-year plan on Facebook, and President Bashar Al-Assad has said that he will push through political reforms (inaudible). How do you view this?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to see positive actions taken. A commitment in word only won’t produce the changes that people are looking for. So I hope that what he has said will be followed up on.

QUESTION: And on Lebanon in the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, you have called on the next government to honor its obligations to the international tribunal. Mr. Mikati has so far refused to commit to (inaudible). How are you going to (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States believes strongly in the work of the tribunal, because we do not believe that there should be impunity for murder. And we do not believe that it is in Lebanon’s interest to avoid accountability for those who murdered not only Prime Minister Hariri but 22 other innocent people. So we’re going to continue to support the work of the tribunal. We think it’s important, and we believe that Lebanon itself would benefit from having this matter resolved. We also are very hopeful that the government that is finally formed will recognize the need for the tribunal’s work to continue.

QUESTION: After Egypt and Tunisia, who will be next (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s up to the people of the region. And what we hope is that there will be an ongoing commitment to reform – economic reform and political reform. I talked about it in my speech in Doha, and it was a warning to a lot of our friends in the region. And now, many of them are looking for ways that they can make progress, and we would like to see that happen.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: I appreciate your time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. SirJohn permalink
    February 15, 2011 9:54 am

    I just read that Hillary is planning on naming Marc Grossman to replace Holbrooke. What a surprise, another Israel Lobby stooge. Honestly, this woman is bought and paid for by AIPAC. No wonder she’s such a Israel hawk. The Likudniks can always count on Hillary! But this may be good news for you guys because it may mean she’s running for office again. Some of us were hoping she’d regain some independence after she left the job of NY senator, where the only way you can get elected is to kneel down and kiss Israel’s ring. So much for that. Feltman, Lew, Grossman, Shapiro, Steinberg and on and on. The Lobby took over the State Dept. during the Clinton years and someone who is pro-Arab couldn’t get a job there if they tried. Just ask Chas Freeman. The lobby makes sure their people are in key places where they can drive US foreign policy in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

    • Thain permalink
      February 15, 2011 10:06 am

      She doesn’t get to select every single person who has a name-job at State, I believe Obama picks some of them. For example, I think Steinberg and Lew were Obama’s guys.

      Also, the Lobby isn’t just made up of Jewish people but you seem to feel the need to name only them- many right wing Christian Evangelicals make up the Lobby.

      I do agree that there aren’t enough pro-Arab voices anywhere in govt, particularly in anything having to do with FP. I also agree that the Lobby wants people with their views at State and Defense to drive the policy towards Israel.

  2. February 15, 2011 11:30 am

    FYI. Newsweek has hired a new neocon (thanks Tina Brown), Niall Ferguson, as their resident anti-Obama, anti-Clinton flack. He’s a prof. at Harvard so it just goes to show you that you can have a fancy Ivy League degree and still not know your head from your arse. All he does is fear-monger. I’d love to see him have to debate Professor Juan Cole.

    He slams Obama and Clinton:

    By the way, his partner is as a prominent critic of Islam. He’s also a reliable go-to guy to fear-monger on behalf of Israel and you know, all us CIVILIZED democracies (as opposed to the unwashed Arab masses who are clearly undeserving of such privileges as freedom). I’d call him pro-Israel but I think these guys don’t deserve that title. They should just be called the status quo, anti-peace lobby.

    I guess he wrote the cover story for Newsweek this week and blasts Clinton and Obama. The article drips with condescension towards Arabs. Naturally. Democracy is only good if we get to choose who is elected and so long as they promote US-Israeli interests. All those people tortured by Mubarak’s regime? I guess none of that matters to Ferguson.

    • Tovah permalink
      February 15, 2011 11:58 am

      So of course this guy would have done a much better job, right? It’s amazing to me how some of these people are not the slightest bit embarrassed to argue that democracy should be the privilege of only certain people and that we in the U.S. should hand pick who is worthy. I wonder how he feels about democracy in Iran? He probably loves the idea simply because Iran is an “enemy” of the West. He seems totally clueless that this attitude just increases anti-US and anti-Israel sentiment. He’s got that British colonialist mindset.

      BTW, my parents, after seeing a steady stream of fear-mongering on Fox and other channels now think that Mubarak was probably a good guy. You know, for Israel. They are buying into all the Muslim Brotherhood crap and finally I said “hey, guys, had you ever even heard of the brotherhood until now?” No, they hadn’t.

    • Thain permalink
      February 15, 2011 3:21 pm

      So that’s the direction Tina Brown is going to take Newsweek, huh? Well, Mr. Ferguson seems to have a pretty comfy life- I was looking up his bio. Interesting that while manyjournalists were in Cairo risking their life during the Egyptian uprising, he was in Tel Aviv at that stupid Israeli fear-mongering conference so I guess he just came right back and wrote up his notes and handed them into Ms. Brown for publication.

      Now that I think about it, that’s pretty interesting. Newsweek could have selected a journalist who was in Cairo watching events unfold but instead they picked some Harvard brat who was hanging out in Tel Aviv the whole time listening to speeches from Israeli govt officials and think tankers talking about how every five minutes Israel faces a new threat. Hey, Jennifer Rubin was at that conference- maybe she gave him some talking points.

  3. February 15, 2011 12:04 pm

    Thanks, Stacy, for the interview transcripts. The lack of any questioning from the Al Jazeera reporter about Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, … , was what I found very interesting. Their questions were all about Egypt. Hillary of course brought up Iran.

    Viewing AJ’s website as well over the past few days, I am wondering about their own biases. Why this fabulous coverage of Egypt and then nothing close on the other countries? People have been killed, beaten, and imprisoned in these other countries. Yet I see minimal coverage, relative to what was provided for Egypt. Am I missing something?

    • February 15, 2011 12:16 pm

      Al Jazeera originates in Qatar, right? I’m sure Al Jazeera has some biases but they seem to really have been trying to improve their international legitimacy. I haven’t looked at their website yet today to see how their coverage of other protests is coming along. I am sure that they probably aren’t given access to Saudi Arabia, which is perhaps one of the most restrictive and repressive countries in terms of press freedoms.

      I also remember an AJ reporter (at least I think that is where the reporter was from) getting into a testy exchange with her recently during one of her trips so I wonder if that had any impact on their questions this time around? The question had criticized US inability to get Israel to stop settlements and she got visibly annoyed with the reporter.

      I just added the Al Hurra transcript and the interviewer asked some more regional questions. Each of the interviews is short so that may have played a role in why they didn’t ask more questions about events in other countries.

    • February 15, 2011 12:40 pm

      AJ does originate from Qatar. Did you know the US government founded Al Hurra? And Saudi investors started Al Arabiya. It’s possible, as you say, that their reporters aren’t even allowed in some of these countries. I’ll try to watch some coverage tonight and see what they show. It’s just that with Egypt coverage that was practically 24/7, they set a high bar for other networks but also for themselves.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      February 15, 2011 7:56 pm

      Did we read the same transcript? The last half of the AJ interview included questions about the protests in Yemen, Bahrain, and Algeria; about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; about Syria and Lebanon…The oddest question, I thought, was something about, “What do you say to people who argue the United States has abandoned its allies in the region?” Huh? Who’s saying that?

      A better question would have been, “How would you respond to people who are saying the US talks a good game about democracy and reform but has been propping up autocratic regimes throughout the Middle East and supporting de facto apartheid in Israel?”

      • February 15, 2011 8:08 pm

        @carolyn- I think you are referring to the Al Hurra interview, not Al Jazeera. I made it sort of confusing because I put them each up separately at different times of the day- I originally only had the AJ transcript and video up, not the other two. I updated the post later and added the Al Aribiya and Al Hurra interviews and in the post I noted that the Al Hurra interview covered more wide-ranging topics including the ones you mention. SA had specifically been commenting about the AJ transcript because at the time, that was the only one I had up.

        • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
          February 15, 2011 8:12 pm

          Oops – you’re absolutely right.
          My apologies, SJ

  4. Vcal permalink
    February 15, 2011 2:25 pm

    Hillary just finished her Internet speech freedom and it was just great! She talked about the restrictions in China,Egypt and other places; I’m sure she’ll receive fire for this.It was so inspiring and amazing as we are used to see her always! People were chating and amazed of her knowledge and intelligence!

  5. Thain permalink
    February 15, 2011 3:42 pm

    Interesting: El Baradei questions whether the Obama admin (and he singles out Hillary at the end) tried to undermine their own diplomatic outreach with Iran not long after taking office:

    http://us.mobile.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE71E5JG20110215?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

    In other words, while we said we were willing to engage in negotiations with some conditions we seemed to send dual messages. I remember thinking it was strange that Hillary would say there was a possibility of dialogue with Iran and then in the next sentence she would really slam them. I always got the feeling that she didn’t approve of Obama’s policy of a diplomatic outreach to Iran. It’s like we just wanted to be able to say “well we tried” and go right to sanctions and even possibly a military strike. I think when the admin. nixed the Turkish/Brazil deal we showed we weren’t interested in resolving anything, we were just interested in getting to “crippling” sanctions to appeal Israel and the Israel Firsters in Congress and elsewhere who wouldn’t tolerate any sort of dialogue with Iran.

    • February 15, 2011 6:11 pm

      When El Baradei surfaced in Egypt during the protests I wondered how his being a figure in the opposition to Mubarak would sit with the Beltway crowd, some of whom are probably still seething with resentment (like John McCain and other Iraq War hawks) at the fact that he was right all along about Iraq and has been critical of US actions with respect to Iran. I can’t help but wonder if El Baradei and Clinton don’t really have a positive relationship, if they have one at all. But that’s all conjecture on my part. She certainly was very hawkish on Iran as Senator of NY and as a presidential candidate- it was an area where I happened to respectfully disagree with her.

      I thought the US missed a real opportunity with the Brazil-Turkey deal- was it perfect? Of course not, but that made me wonder if we were purposely setting the bar very high for Tehran knowing they would fail. There is IMMENSE pressure in this country from the usual suspects to not have any diplomatic relations with Iran. I think many would just as soon bomb them to hell and back as talk to them. That’s not to say Ahmadinejad isn’t a total pain in the ass- he is. He says one thing, pulls back, does another and plays lots of games so I know dealing with them must be difficult. That said, with Israel’s constant beating of the war drums and constant hectoring of the administration and Congress, having any real rapprochement with Iran even under the best of circumstances would be next to impossible.

      • PYW permalink
        February 15, 2011 6:30 pm

        you make some very good points, stacy, as usual!

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        February 15, 2011 8:11 pm

        I seem to remember several months into his administration, Obama sent a conciliatory message to Iran, offering among other things to engage in a direct dialogue with them about their nuclear program and hostility towards Israel. He was promptly slapped down by Kahmeini who essentially said lift the sanctions, stop accusing us of seeking nuclear weapons, and give up your unconditional support of the Zionist regime, then maybe we’ll talk, i.e. F*** you! (with the crowd chanting “Death to America” in the background). What would have been your next move at that point?

        • February 15, 2011 8:21 pm

          Did you go to the link Thain left to read El Baradei’s take on things? There seem to have been multiple messages going back and forth.

          What would I have done? I think I would have let the Brazil-Turkey nuclear swap go through because it would have dealt with at least some of the nuclear concerns, such that they are.

          It’s really hard to engage in diplomacy through messengers and posturing only. Iran always tries to “save face” by criticizing the US and Israel publicly and in the most ridiculous, over the top way and then the US lobs verbal grenades back at them and we never get anywhere. Just sayin’

          But honestly, lets say instead of a “f*ck you” from Iran the administration got a “ok, lets talk.”. Do you really think Congress would be for that? I mean honestly, do you really think the US doesn’t have a list of demands for Iran before we’ll play ball? That was my point- that even if constructive dialogue was even a possibility, and I realize that Iran makes that exceedingly difficult, there really isn’t a whole lot of political support here in the states for anything other than crippling sanctions or a bombing campaign.

          Also, lets not forget Bibi essentially tells us to go screw regularly.

          • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
            February 16, 2011 12:58 am

            Just read Thain’s link. I’m just glad I’m not a diplomat because I can’t make heads or tails about what’s “really” going on…Obama (publically) extends the olive branch to Iran in March ’09. Khameini tells him (publically) to go to Hell…In September ’09, Ahmadinejad extends an olive branch (privately, through back channels), a gesture Obama apparently ignores. But the following spring, when Hillary
            presses for stiffer sanctions, El Baradei would have us believe she was manipulatively undermining Obama’s attempts at reconciliation with Iran? What attempts? Hadn’t Obama ignored a perfect opportunity to reconcile the previous fall?

            And as long as I’m airing my utter confusion, can anyone tell me the REAL reason we invaded Iraq? I gathet Rumsfeld’s memoires reveal what we knew already — they knew there were no WMD’s and only the flimsiest evidence of a connection to Al Quaeda. The pundits on MSNBC tonight were batting around various possibilities that all seemed implausible to me — like Bush II wanted to defend his father’s honor; avenging his father’s failure to defeat Saddam; or that Bush was really, reallys sncere in wanting to spread democracy in the Middle East as an antidote to terrorism? or Cheney always wanted to invade Iraq (reasons unspoken); to make the world safer for our BFF, Israel? But why topple Saddam if he was
            holding Iran in check like Israel wanted?
            I feel like the third child at Passover!

  6. Thain permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:49 pm

    lift the sanctions, stop accusing us of seeking nuclear weapons, and give up your unconditional support of the Zionist regime, then maybe we’ll talk…

    Well, given Iran is a signatory to the NPT and Israel is not and given the US’ selective application of international rules/UN resolutions and given one of the reasons Iran may want to one day have nuclear weapons is because Israel already has them although they abide by no international rules governing their monitoring, and given how US support of Israel IS unconditional even if it goes against our own interests and the interests of the region, I guess I’d say in response to the nutters in Iran “sticks and stones may break my bones…” and then I probably would have sat down and talked to them.

    but hey, you know me, I’m crazy like that

    Is Iran’s rhetoric idiotic and hateful? Yeah, it is. Are they suicidal? No, they would never stand a chance against the Israeli military and they know it. Iran has no nuclear weapons and even if they did Israel has first and second strike nuclear capability. We learned from Saddam that just pretending you want them or being vague makes you a badass that people might think twice about messing with. But we didn’t learn anything from that whole Iraq thing, did we? Does exchanging verbal assaults with Iran and taunting each other at the UN make the world a safer place? No. Maybe countries could act like friggin’ grown ups and sit at a table and talk without anyone knowing because nothing is getting solved this way.

    And btw, you realize the reason we are worried about Iranian nukes is not because we think they’d use them (despite all that emotionally “wipe off the map” stuff) but because we want to maintain Israel’s status as regional hegemon and their quantitative military advantage. If Iran were to get a nuke the geopolitics of the region would change- Saddam understood this and he bluffed to try to contain his enemy Iran.

    How ironic that all the pro-Iraq war folks don’t realize that by going to war with Iraq, they made Iran exponentially more powerful because it took away Iran’s main enemy in the region (no, actually, their enemy wasn’t Israel, only in their rhetoric, but their real enemy was Iraq).

    Strong work hawks!

  7. February 16, 2011 11:12 am

    @carolyn: Well, who really knows what’s going on? Not me. El Baradei’s version may or may not be the “truth” whatever that is. Some of the hope probably lies in totally secret back-door diplomacy because Iran doesn’t want its public to think it’s caving to the US and the administration doesn’t want the pressure from the “bomb Iran” crowd.

    But I guess my concern is that we are back where we started in the Bush years- no one is talking. I can’t help but think that our own domestic politics would make it impossible for rapprochement with Iran, even under the best of circumstances (if Iran behaved and didn’t make crazy comments). Keep in mind the House resolution that passed not too long ago supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against Iran- the wording of that resolution makes pretty clear Congress doesn’t think much of Obama’s outreach efforts OR sanctions. Here it is:

    Expressing support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force if no other peaceful solution can be found within reasonable time to protect against such an immediate and existential threat to the State of Israel.

    As for Iraq- did you see the latest about our main source about Saddam’s alleged WMD program- Curveball? He told the Guardian he lied to British, German and American intelligence about Saddam having WMDs but apparently American intelligence pretty much knew he was a big fat liar but Bush and the hawks wanted to invade so Curveball helped give them cover.

    Neocons had this silly idea that they would remake the geopolitical map of the Middle East to secure US interests (oil, having military bases of operations and protection for Israel) by “bringing democracy” to countries like Iraq, Iran etc. if force by necessary. It was naive and didn’t take into account the ethnic, cultural and religious divisions in the region. It backfired. Israel was a big justification, although not oft-stated, but it really hasn’t made Israel all that much safer because Iraq now has a huge Iranian influence, including in their government.

    You gotta love irony.

  8. Thain permalink
    February 16, 2011 7:29 pm

    Alex Kane is highlighting what the MSM isn’t about Israel. More Wiki cables have been released that say that Mubarak understood US foreign policy was viewed through an “Israeli filter” due largely to the I-Lobby.

    http://alexbkane.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/israeli-filter-colors-u-s-response-to-egyptian-revolution/

    It’s funny how anyone who points out the out-sized influence the I-Lobby has on our foreign policy is called anti-Israel or even an anti-Semite but really, the whole world knows. I mean Mubarak even understood it!

    http://213.251.145.96/cable/2007/12/07CAIRO3503.html

    Notice how the MSM continues to ignore these particular Wiki cables dealing with Israel?

    Gee, maybe they could find some more dealing with Iran! Lets be honest- the MSM is bought and paid for by the lobby.

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