'This Week' Roundtable Transcript: Foreign Affairs


playing out in so many countries that I've been reporting for, everybody

is looking at.

What should the president say, for instance, about Syria? You know,

there's no intervention there. There are barely sanctions that have

affected anything right now?

HAASS: The president has to avoid over promising. Indeed, I don't

like the phrase Arab Spring for two reason, it's too positive and it

suggests things are going happen in the course of a season. We are

looking at things that are going to take years if not decades to play

out in places like Egypt and Syria.

So the president has got to lower expectation. He's got to

associate the United States, generally, with reform. But he's also got

to make it clear that we can't intervene the same way every place.

There is going to be in inconsistency. And he has to almost sell

inconsistent and not have it confused with hypocrisy. Not an easy challenge.

AMANPOUR: Sell inconsistency?

KAGAN: I don't think that's a winning tactic, especially when you

consider the fact that even if he says he's speaking to the Muslim world

he's also speaking to the American people, that's who American

presidents speaks to. And at times you have to be able to deliver a

message that Dean Acheson famously said talking about the Truman

Doctrine that's clearer than truth.

Of course there's complexity in the Arab world, of course a lot of

these countries are going in different directions. So I think the

American people need to understand, he needs to tell them, this is an

historic moment of world historic significance which is going to have

enormous impact on American interests.

And we can't be sort of hiding in our shell, we obviously we have a

lot of problems at home to worry about, but this is a moment that we

can't let pass.

AMANPOUR: And certainly the people there in all the places that

I've been expect the United States to be on their side for freedom,

democracy, reform.

KAGAN: Right. And there are things that we can and should be

doing. And Richard is right, there will be different things, but we but

we need to be on the side of reform.

And Obama does need to tell the region, we are on the side of the

people, not on the side of dictatorship.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you both, there were two very interesting

magazine covers this week. One is The New Yorker, and we'll put it up,

which shows the face of Osama bin Laden being erased out. And the other

is The Atlantic. And it shows sort of the scary face, if you like, of a

woman clad in a full veil.

Basically the question is, is bin Laden going to cause less Islamism

or more scary kind of militantism that people hear and are afraid of?

What do you think, Richard?

HAASS: Well, the good news is that none of this has been about

Osama bin Laden. What is going on in the Arab world is not inspired by

-- if anything it was an intellectual and ideological challenge. He

represents the past. So he's gone physically. But he was already in

many ways gone politically. He's not about what's going on in Egypt or

Syria and all that.

So this whole thing -- this creates an opening for the president and

the United States. He can lay out a positive agenda.

But also the United States has to go about it, I think, in a way

that also puts down some guideposts about the pace of it, about some of

the principles that we believe in, because in many cases the oppositions

are not clearly better than the status quo. We want to make clear what

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