Obama Shoots First, Aims Later: White House clarifies Obama’s statement that Egypt is not an ‘ally.’

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    Sep 14, 2012 12:10 PM GMT
    Oops... Yeah - the man you want to answer the 3 am call?

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/09/13/white_house_clarifies_obama_s_statement_that_egypt_is_not_an_ally

    President Barack Obama didn't intend to signal any change in the U.S.-Egypt relationship last night when he said Egypt is not an "ally," the White House told The Cable today.

    In an interview with Telemundo Wednesday night, Obama said that the U.S. relationship with the new Egyptian government was a "work in progress," and emphasized that the United States is counting on the government of Egypt to better protect the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which was attacked by protesters on Sept. 11.

    "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said. "They're a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident."

    That comment had Egypt watchers scratching their heads, especially since technically, Egypt was designated as a Major Non-NATO Ally in 1989 when Congress first passed the law creating that status, which gives them special privileges in cooperating with the United States, especially in the security and technology arenas.

    White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Cable Thursday that the administration is not signaling a change in that status.

    "I think folks are reading way too much into this," Vietor said. "‘Ally' is a legal term of art. We don't have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do with our NATO allies. But as the president has said, Egypt is longstanding and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt's transition to democracy and working with the new government.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:22 PM GMT
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/obama-runs-riot-with-facts-on-ally-egypt/article/2507959

    In an interview with "60 Minutes" on Wednesday night, President Obama was eager to capitalize on an emerging media narrative: that Mitt Romney had blundered badly with his criticism of the administration's handling of this week's attack on the American Embassy in Egypt.

    "Gov. Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later," Obama insisted. "And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that, that it's important for you to make sure that the statements you make are backed up by the facts, and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them."

    Perhaps President Fact-Based should have toned down the sanctimony. That evening, in an interview with Jose Diaz-Balart, of the Spanish-language network Telemundo, Obama was asked whether Egypt was an ally of the United States. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama responded.

    This comment was so incredible that NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel later commented that he "almost had to sit down" when he heard it. Egypt, the 16th largest nation on Earth and by far the largest in the Arab world, was designated a non-NATO ally by Congress in 1989, along with other important countries like Israel, Japan and Australia. Not at any point during the Arab Spring did the U.S. government hint at any change in that status. And Obama has strenuously resisted the idea, promoted by some Republicans, of canceling the $1.5 billion foreign aid package that the U.S. furnishes to Egypt annually. No wonder jaws dropped when Obama dropped this bombshell in a casual news interview on Spanish-language television.

    Was Obama sending a major diplomatic message the day after rioters took over the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday night? As it turns out, no. Obama was just "shooting first and aiming later." Foreign Policy magazine reporter Josh Rogin followed up with the White House and learned that the comment, although clearly not a simple misstatement, was an Obama blunder, not a change in policy.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:28 PM GMT
    You know you're in trouble when you have Jimmy Carter correct you on issues of foreign affairs.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/jimmy-carter/2012/09/13/jimmy-carter-corrects-obama

    Former President Jimmy Carter spoke to students at Drake University in Des Moines today and was asked if he agreed with what Obama said about Egypt:

    Carter: "Egypt is an ally of the US, we know Egypt well."

    President Obama had earlier stated during an interview, "You know, I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we do not consider them an enemy."

    Carter went on to talk about Egypt's new President, Mohamed Morsi, saying that he knew him well and that they had met. He added that Morsi was dedicated to peace and a democratic government.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:37 PM GMT
    Considering the newness of Egypt's government and the religious nature of its political parties, I can understand Obama equivocal attitude towards Egypt. And I agree with it. They're not our known enemy, but we don't know how much of a dependable friend they are either.

    They're not like Canada. Everybody knows only baby seals need fear a Canadian.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:40 PM GMT
    Caslon21000 saidConsidering the newness of Egypt's government and the religious nature of its political parties, I can understand Obama equivocal attitude towards Egypt. And I agree with it. They're not our known enemy, but we don't know how much of a dependable friend they are either.


    And yet it was in Egypt that he made his pivotal speech on Middle Eastern policy. From a diplomatic standpoint this is a disaster for the US government - and there's a recognition that it is given that the White House retracted the statement afterwards.

    In the world of State, you often think things like the fact that France isn't really an ally on any number of issues but you don't make it overt policy. This is basic diplomacy.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:47 PM GMT
    Were he to completely embrace the Egyptian government, next thing you know, he'll be denigrated as embracing the extremist Muslims that the right wing likes to paint the democratically elected government to be.
    Heads I win, tails you lose.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:49 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidWere he to completely embrace the Egyptian government, next thing you know, he'll be denigrated as embracing the extremist Muslims that the right wing likes to paint the democratically elected government to be.
    Heads I win, tails you lose.


    Oh you mean just acknowledging official US policy at the time that recognized that Egypt was an ally?

    You're really reaching here and I am pretty sure you know it.
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    Sep 14, 2012 1:49 PM GMT
    Or maybe it's a way of giving those countries and their people a message, that our patience and friendship isn't inexhaustible. If you demonstrate hostility to America, its govt, and people at every drop of a hat, we will not count you as friendly. Or in other words, knock that shit off.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:02 PM GMT
    Caslon21000 saidOr maybe it's a way of giving those countries and their people a message, that our patience and friendship isn't inexhaustible. If you demonstrate hostility to America, its govt, and people at every drop of a hat, we will not count you as friendly. Or in other words, knock that shit off.


    Except in this case Obama had been speaking off the cuff and had to have his comments corrected by Carter and his spokesmen.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:06 PM GMT
    Here's what our "ally" said:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/316681/apology-egypts-muslim-brotherhood-government-no-veiled-threat-andrew-c-mccarthy#

    Heads I win, tails you lose.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:10 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidHere's what our "ally" said:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/316681/apology-egypts-muslim-brotherhood-government-no-veiled-threat-andrew-c-mccarthy#

    Heads I win, tails you lose.


    Again, if the official US government policy had changed, you'd think that Obama would be wiser than to do it at an interview with Telemundo. And again, it didn't. And from your own link:

    If Mitt Romney did not ignore all the dumb advice he’s being given, and make clear that he stands for the First Amendment over sharia blasphemy laws, there would be something seriously wrong with his campaign.


    I agree whole heartedly. Friends/allies should be able to criticize each other. And this is the message that should be sent loud and clear. Instead the Obama Administration is busy fundraising and attacking Romney for his defense of free speech.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:15 PM GMT
    I'm just saying, the President's statement is realpolitik as demonstrated by the Egyptian PM's statement. I quote the National Review link just to show that there's always something to criticize from the right wing.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:17 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidI'm just saying, the President's statement is realpolitik as demonstrated by the Egyptian PM's statement. I quote the National Review link just to show that there's always something to criticize from the right wing.


    Except it wasn't realpolitik. Realpolitik works when it's done deliberately as part of a strategy. Obama's statement was effectively retracted by his own spokespeople after the interview. Everything in response since has appeared haphazard. And as I pointed out the National Review points out again why Romney's comments were both justified and right.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:34 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Caslon21000 saidOr maybe it's a way of giving those countries and their people a message, that our patience and friendship isn't inexhaustible. If you demonstrate hostility to America, its govt, and people at every drop of a hat, we will not count you as friendly. Or in other words, knock that shit off.


    Except in this case Obama had been speaking off the cuff and had to have his comments corrected by Carter and his spokesmen.

    What looks like off-the-cuff may be a way to send the message without it be official. ...a plausible ruse... "Oh, did I say that out loud? icon_wink.gif"

    But in any event, it makes sense. We DON'T know if we can trust the new Egyptiam gov't.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:35 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    q1w2e3 saidI'm just saying, the President's statement is realpolitik as demonstrated by the Egyptian PM's statement. I quote the National Review link just to show that there's always something to criticize from the right wing.


    Except it wasn't realpolitik. Realpolitik works when it's done deliberately as part of a strategy. Obama's statement was effectively retracted by his own spokespeople after the interview. Everything in response since has appeared haphazard. And as I pointed out the National Review points out again why Romney's comments were both justified and right.




    you got that one right (about realpolitik). icon_eek.gif Not having read the Nat Review Article I cannot comment on its argument.

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    Sep 14, 2012 2:36 PM GMT
    Caslon21000 said
    riddler78 said
    Caslon21000 saidOr maybe it's a way of giving those countries and their people a message, that our patience and friendship isn't inexhaustible. If you demonstrate hostility to America, its govt, and people at every drop of a hat, we will not count you as friendly. Or in other words, knock that shit off.


    Except in this case Obama had been speaking off the cuff and had to have his comments corrected by Carter and his spokesmen.

    What looks like off-the-cuff may be a way to send the message without it be official. "Oh, did I say that? icon_wink.gif"


    Given the other signals he's sent - I am highly doubting that this was the case - including say I dunno, jumping on a plane to Vegas for a fundraiser instead of an intelligence briefing?

    There are lots of ways to send the message if you want to do it - there's a whole art to it including calling their ambassador in for a dressing down or using back channels. This has made him look even weaker.

    Think about it - if that was the intent, the subsequent comments from the Egyptians made him look even worse when he withdrew the statement...
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:39 PM GMT
    For all the braggadoccio the Bush administration had, there were more attacks during his administration on Americans by extremists than in the current administration.

    And I cannot recall a Yemeni government and a Libyan ambassador ever apologizing to a US government for anything before. icon_eek.gif
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:40 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    Caslon21000 said
    riddler78 said
    Caslon21000 saidOr maybe it's a way of giving those countries and their people a message, that our patience and friendship isn't inexhaustible. If you demonstrate hostility to America, its govt, and people at every drop of a hat, we will not count you as friendly. Or in other words, knock that shit off.


    Except in this case Obama had been speaking off the cuff and had to have his comments corrected by Carter and his spokesmen.

    What looks like off-the-cuff may be a way to send the message without it be official. "Oh, did I say that? icon_wink.gif"


    Given the other signals he's sent - I am highly doubting that this was the case - including say I dunno, jumping on a plane to Vegas for a fundraiser instead of an intelligence briefing?

    There are lots of ways to send the message if you want to do it - there's a whole art to it including calling their ambassador in for a dressing down or using back channels. This has made him look even weaker.

    Think about it - if that was the intent, the subsequent comments from the Egyptians made him look even worse when he withdrew the statement...

    Oh no, dear heart, he might have been sending the message to the people, too, not just the gov't. especially not just to the gov't. it wasn't giv't forces that attacked the embassy. He might have been telling all if Egypt ...and the whole arab world... that we can't tell if you're allies or not when you behave this way.

    If I were in Egypt, I'd feel about as secure as a baby seal in downtown Toronto.
  • musclmed

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    Sep 14, 2012 2:49 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidFor all the braggadoccio the Bush administration had, there were more attacks during his administration on Americans by extremists than in the current administration.

    And I cannot recall a Yemeni government and a Libyan ambassador ever apologizing to a US government for anything before. icon_eek.gif


    very little reporting on it. But it appears that the attack on the Libyan embassy was a coordinated attack on 9/11.

    What also seems coordinated is that most news outlets are not making the connection and are not reporting this.

    Under any other President there would be a media bonanza.

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    Sep 14, 2012 2:51 PM GMT
    q1w2e3 saidFor all the braggadoccio the Bush administration had, there were more attacks during his administration on Americans by extremists than in the current administration.

    And I cannot recall a Yemeni government and a Libyan ambassador ever apologizing to a US government for anything before. icon_eek.gif


    Lol you're rather selective - but this is standard practice given that attacks on embassies are considered acts of war as they occur on sovereign soil.

    And if you're referring to September 11th... that was many years in the making.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:56 PM GMT
    Caslon21000 saidOh no, dear heart, he might have been sending the message to the people, too, not just the gov't. especially not just to the gov't. it wasn't giv't forces that attacked the embassy. He might have been telling all if Egypt ...and the whole arab world... that we can't tell if you're allies or not when you behave this way.

    If I were in Egypt, I'd feel about as secure as a baby seal in downtown Toronto.


    Baby seals would be very secure downtown Toronto - you'd have to move outside the core before they'd be at risk icon_wink.gif

    Again, he could have been quite severe about his criticisms of Egypt. If this was a calculated move, it made him look blundering - which I assume was not his intent given how talented he is (and I say this sincerely) as a scripted speaker.
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    Sep 14, 2012 2:57 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    q1w2e3 saidFor all the braggadoccio the Bush administration had, there were more attacks during his administration on Americans by extremists than in the current administration.

    And I cannot recall a Yemeni government and a Libyan ambassador ever apologizing to a US government for anything before. icon_eek.gif


    Lol you're rather selective - but this is standard practice given that attacks on embassies are considered acts of war as they occur on sovereign soil.

    And if you're referring to September 11th... that was many years in the making.

    Dear heart, the Libyan attacks were on Sept 11.
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    Sep 14, 2012 3:04 PM GMT
    Caslon21000 said
    riddler78 said
    q1w2e3 saidFor all the braggadoccio the Bush administration had, there were more attacks during his administration on Americans by extremists than in the current administration.

    And I cannot recall a Yemeni government and a Libyan ambassador ever apologizing to a US government for anything before. icon_eek.gif


    Lol you're rather selective - but this is standard practice given that attacks on embassies are considered acts of war as they occur on sovereign soil.

    And if you're referring to September 11th... that was many years in the making.

    Dear heart, the Libyan attacks were on Sept 11.


    *2001

    And fwiw -
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/09/does-not-represent-us-moving-photos-pro-american-rallies-libya/56803/#.UFHm9mOXoMI.facebook

    large.jpeg
  • metta

    Posts: 39167

    Sep 14, 2012 4:02 PM GMT
    Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt’s Morsi Folds

    http://www.juancole.com/2012/09/obama-plays-hardball-and-egypts-morsi-folds.html
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    Sep 14, 2012 4:05 PM GMT
    metta8 saidObama Plays Hardball and Egypt’s Morsi Folds

    http://www.juancole.com/2012/09/obama-plays-hardball-and-egypts-morsi-folds.html


    A rather unconvincing defense by an apologist of many middle eastern dictatorships.