In the wake of the attack of the U.S. embassay in Cairo, President Barack Obama on Wednesday told Telemundo that Egypt was not only not an ally of the United States, but also not an enemy.
“You know, I don’t think that we would consider them an ally but we don’t consider them an enemy,” he said. “They are a new government trying to find its way, they were democratically elected. I think we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident, to see how they respond to maintaining the peace treaty with Israel.”
President Obama further explained saying:
“So far at least, what we’ve seen is that in some cases, they’ve said the right things and taken the right steps – in others, how they’ve responded to other events may not be aligned with some of our interests so I think it’s still a work in progress. But certainly in this situation what we’re going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected that our personnel is protected – and if they take actions that indicate they are not taking those responsibilities like all countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a real big problem.”
The president’s remarks caused confusion as to what exactly Egypt’s current relationship is with the United States. The White House attempted to help clarify Mr. Obama’s remarks later the next day.
“Ally is a legal term of art,” said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. “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 long-standing 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,” said Mr. Vietor.
The U.S. State Department only added to the confusion when State Department spokeswoman spokeswoman Victoria Nuland contradicted the president’s comments on Thursday.
Ms Nuland initially said, “But as a matter of fact and practice, the word ally generally is used with a treaty ally, which is a different matter than the fact that we have a very close and longstanding partnership with the government of Egypt, and we are working together to support their democratic transition.”
However, a reporter pressed Nuland and asked, “Well, wait a second. Egypt is an ally. It’s a Major Non-NATO ally.” Nuland answered: “Correct, yeah.”
Nuland was then asked if the president was attempting to tell Egypt that its relationship with the United States has changed. Nuland responded: “Well, that was certainly, I don’t think, the intention. I’m going to refer you to the White House for further parsing on this.”
Finally, another reporter inquired: “So forget about the President’s words. You’re saying that the Administration, the State Department, still regards Egypt as a Major Non-NATO Ally and it is still a recipient of all the – of the privileges that that entails?” Nuland answered: “Yes.”
It appears the president and the rest of his administration have no idea what the exact status Egypt has with the United States.
Mr. Obama seemed assured of his foreign policy decisions last year when he declared peace in our time during a speech he gave at the United Nations:
This has been a remarkable year. The Khadafy regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, Mubarak, are no longer in power. Osama Bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something’s happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be.
One year later, anti-American riots that have resulted in the death of our own citizens, including a U.S. ambassador, are popping up all over the the middle east and White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the protests are not directed at the United States.
Reports show that the White House was warned of the attack to the U.S. consulate in Libya days before it happened but failed to act to take appropriate measures to protect the staff at the embassy. This information came out only after it was revealed Mr. Obama only attended half of his daily intel briefings.
While Mr. Carney has said that the administration is “very proud of the president’s record on foreign policy,” it seems that the president does not want to realize what his own foreign policies have brought upon the United States and the rest of the world.