Politics & Policy

Obama with O’Reilly

Pres. Barack Obama sat down for an interview with Bill O’Reilly last night. Here’s what he said about Egypt

Only he knows what he’s going to do. But here’s what we do know is that Egypt is not going to go back to the way it was. The Egyptian people want freedom, they want free and fair elections, they want a representative government, they want a responsive government. So what we’ve said is you have to start a transition now — Mubarak’s already decided he’s not running for reelection, his term is up this year. Let’s make sure you get all the groups together in Egypt, and let the people in Egypt determine what’s the process for an orderly transition, but one that is a meaningful transition, and that leads to a government…. [crosstalk]

The United States can’t absolutely dictate what happens. What we can do is we can say the time is now for you to start making those changes. 

The United States and Egypt have been partners for a long time. He has been a good partner when it comes to the peace with Israel. There’ve been counter-terrorism efforts that he’s been supportive of. But we’ve said to him publicly and privately is that trying to suppress your own people is something that is not sustainable.  And part of the message that we’re seeing all around the world is that when you resort to suppression, you resort to violence, that does not work.

What we can do, Bill, is we can say that the time is now for you to start making those changes.


I think the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt. They don’t have majority support in Egypt. But they are well-organized and there are strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S. — there’s no doubt about it. Here’s what we have to understand. There are a whole bunch of educated people in Egypt, there is civil society Egypt, that wants to come to the fore as well. And so it’s important for us not to say that our only two options are either the Muslim Brotherhood or a suppressed Egyptian people.

What I want is a representative government in Egypt. And I have confidence that if Egypt moves in an orderly transition process, we’ll have a government that we can work with. 

Do we sense a slight change in tone and emphasis. “Orderly transition now” have been the three words the U.S. government has repeated throughout the crisis; it seems like a week ago the emphasis was on “now,” and has since migrated to “orderly transition.”

See the whole thing here:

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