Terrorism Expert: Obama Should Tread Cautiously With Uprisings

Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011 07:45 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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President Barack Obama is risking toppling allies in the war on terror with his public statements, Fran Townsend, President’s George W. Bush’s chief of counterterrorism, tells Newsmax.

“It’s one thing to advocate for there to be greater freedom and greater liberalization,” Townsend says. “It’s another thing for us to put our thumb on the scale when it comes to toppling existing regimes and power.”

While Townsend says she has a lot of confidence in the military in Egypt, “In a place like Bahrain on Saudi Arabia’s eastern border, and with the ability of Iran to cause mischief with the Shia population in Saudi Arabia near the oil fields, this is a very dangerous game we’ve got ourselves into now.”
barack, obama, fran, townsend, george, w, bush, terrorism, hosni, mubarak, egypt, bahrain

Townsend questions why Obama publicly advocated the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In Egypt, “I’m not sure why we felt the need to speak out so frequently,” Townsend says. “This is a matter for the Egyptian people, and I think we needn’t have taken so public a role. I know there are many on the right and the left who would disagree with that. But having been responsible for security issues, I needed allies that I could depend upon, and the Egyptians were very dependable allies in the war on terror.”

On the one hand, “I understand our advocacy for freedom and democracy and human rights around the world. That’s all laudable," Townsend says. "But we need to be careful about managing our way through that so it doesn’t impact our security.”

To be sure, “President Bush encouraged populations in those countries to advocate for greater freedom, and I think that’s fine,” Townsend says. ”I think that's a good deal different from suggesting publicly to Mubarak that he should go. I’m not saying that we should have defended the Mubarak regime, but what I’m saying is, as we see the unrest throughout the region now, I think we need to circle back and ask ourselves the question, What is the appropriate role for the United States to play in domestic opposition movements in these countries?”

While it’s fine to support debate and dialogue, Townsend feels treading lightly is important: “I think we have to be careful about advocating for all of these regimes to be toppled. I’m not so worried about Saudi Arabia, but I think that we ought to have a growing concern about instability in other countries like Bahrain.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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