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This stunning events of the last few weeks in the Middle East have set the stage for dramatic change change that could have a major effect on US foreign policy.
Here to talk about that is former secretary of state.
James Baker he joins us live from Houston Texas tonight good evening mr.
Good evening Brett how are you I'm well thank you for joining us you know -- -- -- personally you met him when he was vice president of of Egypt decades ago.
How you dealt with them for years on numerous issues we have some pictures of some of those early times.
Understanding that you haven't talked to him but just knowing the man for all these years.
Can you shed any light on what president met Mubarak may be thinking what he may be trying to do -- this point.
Well all I can tell -- -- I've random in the newspapers traditionally.
-- seen on television.
And weren't -- what he said what he said replies he wanted.
He was willing to step down anyone not run for reelection and his son obviously will not run for election.
He wants more time to a -- a peaceful transition.
It is really important that this transition.
Not only died later occur that's important but also that -- -- -- peacefully.
The issue now of course is whether or not the Egyptian people will believe him and take his word for it there's a lot of indications that perhaps they won't.
On the other hand it is really really important that there be a peaceful transition and yes I work -- through the years has many other high ranking American officials have.
-- he he -- who was never responsive to our.
Suggestions that he opened up the political system a bit more in Egypt that he give.
More freedom and our human rights Jewish people but I got -- -- this having said that he was a damn good ally the United States for thirty years.
Okay he sent his troops to fight let us in the Persian gulf alongside American forces he -- steadfast ally in the war on terror.
He was very good in supporting the Arab Israeli peace process.
And in fact Q might have seen today where a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -- if Mubarak goes.
There will be war between Egypt Egypt and Israel.
If anybody has a a huge stake in what happens next.
Of course it's our strong ally Israel but because they do not need I need your bombed their border.
That is governed by a radical Islamic fundamentals Phillips Phillips -- Philosophy and that's a course you we don't know yet nobody knows yet what we might get enough.
How do you think the Obama administration has handled this crisis.
I think they've done pretty good after some.
Faltering steps to begin with and I say that for their -- and -- This is this is a perfect example of why -- sometimes is difficult.
To do foreign policy we have two entries here and there to some extent intentions it to some extent their intention -- each other.
We have our national interest where we have a strong -- one thing we don't wanna do is yanked it.
Carpet out from under him too precipitously the way we did the shah of Iran is happening and our allies other allies in the region was -- that they'll say -- the United States is not out.
Did -- us responsible partner they're not a trustworthy partner on the other hand we have our paradigm of our commitment to.
Human rights and democracy and we want to see those things -- given.
A chance we want to see the people in the Middle East and all the countries in the least.
Have a chance -- democracy and free markets.
Tops our democracy and and human rights and we think that's the right -- that -- -- used to things are in conflict right now and it could.
-- As you look at -- map of the Middle East and and you take a look at all of these countries there and the possible contagion.
Of these protests perhaps in some of these countries you have Egypt obviously Jordan.
Yemen the president there announcing that he's not going to run for reelection won't pass on power to his son you have Lebanon Algeria.
Tunisia we saw what happened Syria Saudi Arabia and Libya as -- look at that map.
Do you see this thing spreading going to other countries.
Hi I I think it as the potential to to do just that Brett.
The fact of the matter is when you let the freedom genie out of the bottle it's pretty hard to put in backgammon and this page and -- -- day of communications.
People can communicate without having to go through the mechanism that there way back in my day so yeah I think there's very.
There's there's every possibility that it could spread.
Two quick things one what you co -- the Iraq study group.
In that report you said among other things your group said.
That you needed to engage directly with Iran and Syria and and Syria really thought that Middle East peace.
Really goes through Damascus do you think this development in Egypt changes that whole dynamic.
No I don't think it changes -- -- of bad dynamic it changes the general dynamics significantly.
I'm not sure we said that peace in the Middle East goes through Damascus I think what we -- in that report was.
That that Israel needs to make peace -- all of her Arab neighbors may need to make peace with Israel.
And that the Syrian.
Portion of that is perhaps easier to accomplish.
Then the Palestinian portion I think that's what we shed and we suggested that every effort should be made but that we should hold Syria -- a lot of things.
That's so far she'd been unwilling to do from last thing quickly have a telephone call with the new chief of staff for the White House bill -- What you tell.
I shouldn't do I should keep that confidential.
A good chance to tell you that it wasn't a telephone call it's I listed way to -- in his office there.
I'd Qaeda I'd occupied that office for four years and he wanted -- -- my brain a little I think and I was happy to.
To go in there and talk to him a little tough job.
It is the toughest job in Washington I told him 100 want an outdoor much that you now I have not sent condolences -- You have the worst job in Washington because your job is to catch all the javelin and that are intended for the old man if they can't get the president.
They wanna -- they wanna get the chief of staff so you walk around with a -- I've stated on your front on your back.
secretary thank you so much for the John today.
Sure thing Brett thanks for having me.
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