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,
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