Former Secretary of State James Baker Wednesday said although embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says he wants a peaceful transition to democracy, the violence tearing the country apart shows the people have their doubts.
“He says he wants more time to affect a peaceful transition and it is very important that occurs,” Baker said on Fox News. “But, there are indications that the Egyptian people may not believe him.”
Baker told Fox News anchor Brett Baier the U.S. response to the Egyptian crisis is a perfect example of why sometimes it is difficult to steer foreign policy, adding the Obama administration, after some initial missteps, has done “a pretty good job.” He said the United States has two interests in Egypt, the first being the country’s role in maintaining regional stability.
“We also have our paradigm of commitment to human rights and democracy. We think that is the right paradigm,” Baker said.
Mubarak “was never responsive to our suggestions that he open the political system,” said Baker, President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state. “But saying that, he was a damn good ally of ours for 30 years,” adding Mubarak was key to maintaining peace with Israel and very supportive of the United States during the first Gulf War.
Baier asked whether Baker saw freedom calls spreading to other Middle East countries, noting recent protests in Tunisia, Yemen, and Jordan.
“I think it has the potential to do just that,” Baker said.
“When you let the freedom genie out of the bottle, it is difficult to put it back in,” he added. “Yes, I think it could spread.”
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