'This Week' Roundtable Transcript: Foreign Affairs

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it is we want, not simply what it is we're against.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's take Egypt. Really the cornerstone of the

Arab world, and you've got a bit of a dicey situation going on there. I

mean, there's a security vacuum, apparently, and no clear road as to how

the next election is going to go. How do you see that falling out?

KAGAN: Well, as I said, the State Department, I'm consciously

optimistic. I mean, I think that given all the things that can and will

go wrong around this region, Egypt is going pretty well right now.

Now, a lot of people are concerned about the fact, and this gets to

the question of Islamism. The Muslim Brotherhood is going to have a

very large share of influence in the next government. And we, in the

United States, are going to have to have a varied attitude towards

Islamism. There's bin Ladenism, and then there is our Islamist parties

that may be compatible with democracy. And Richard's right, we need to

put down clear principles about what democracy means.

AMANPOUR: And because obviously there's been no political activity

in those countries, it's mostly been in the mosques.

HAASS: Exactly. Exactly right. And the only places you see right

now in Egypt, institutions that are powerful are the army and the

Islamists, which is why you need to buy time for civil society to catch

up, for the secular, more liberal. And even within the Islamists,

you're right, there's gradations. You have got to try to level the

playing field.

But one thing we've learned or we should have learned is you can't

rush democracy, particularly against the backdrop of the economic

hardship that you see in Egypt.

One of the things we've also got to do is introduce an economic

element here.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you another question. One of the things that

everybody always said historically is that unless you fix the

Israeli-Palestinian problems, nothing is going to happen. But it looks

like that's not fixable. Even George Mitchell, the special envoy, has

resigned.

KAGAN: Well, I disagree with the basic premise that everything in

the Middle East is about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Obviously it's

important. It's an issue that Arab peoples do care about. But

especially now, that's not the only thing that is going on. Egyptians

care primarily about what is going on in Egypt. Syrians care about what

is going on in Syria, et cetera. And so I think, you know, it's -- in a

way, it's just fine that there's no progress to be had on that peace

process right now.

AMANPOUR: All right, we'll remember that this week when Bebe

Netanyahu comes, the prime minister of Israel. Gentlemen, thank you so

much indeed.

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