'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in Egypt

A few years ago, several years ago, Bill Clinton talked of Al Jazeera as a beacon of democracy. Should that be true, and to the extent that the United States is invested in the future of democracy in the Middle East, Al Jazeera will be an asset. It has provided a platform on which people in the Arab world, from one corner of it to the other, have expressed their grievances and aspirations.

TAPPER: Martha, one of the things that's so interesting watching this crisis unfold is the way that we cover the Egyptian military as if it is its own branch of government. How is the Egyptian army going to respond? What is going to happen with the Egyptian military? Explain this to people.

RADDATZ: Well, of course, all eyes are on the military. You heard Christiane talk about that, as well. And I think people say, there's -- there's choice A, the military will side with Mubarak; choice B, the military will side with the people. But I say it's choice C: The military will take care of itself.

They are the most highly respected institution in Egypt, as you can see. People are climbing on tanks, they're waving. It's pretty clear to me they haven't been given orders to fire on people. You heard the ambassador say they're just there to protect institutions. They're going to surround buildings to make sure they're OK, but somebody's got to blink at some point.

And the military, I think, first and foremost, is going to say, what does this mean for me? Do I want to lose the respect of the nation? So I would think that it is unlikely they would fire on the people and that you really might see a change.

Now, Suleiman, the vice president now, he's a military man, as well. He certainly wants to earn the respect of the military. You have to have the respect of the military there.

TAPPER: Sam, I follow in your footsteps as White House correspondent for ABC News. When you were there during the Carter years, you saw something like this -- not exactly the same -- but something like this unfold in Iran. How is President Obama handling this crisis, especially with that historical perspective you bring?

DONALDSON: I think pretty well at this point, because we're in the middle of a fluid situation, and the United States has really two imperatives, to be for democracy, to be for freedom of choice by peoples around the world, and he has said that, and restraint, of course, from the standpoint of suppression of this.

But on the other hand, we have learned the hard way that a Pax Americana cannot be imposed on other people. We tried it in Iran. In 1953, our CIA overthrew a democratically elected prime minister, a reformer who was bringing reforms to the country named Mohammed Mosaddegh, because we wanted the oil. Well, we established the shah in power. When he was overthrown by the people, it hasn't worked out that well for us. And in Iraq, I think we're in a situation where we don't know the end of this.

RADDATZ: We're kind of like the fence-sitters now, right? Sam...

DONALDSON: But we have no choice.

RADDATZ: Yeah, we have no choice, but it's the fence-sitters that everybody talks about, they're going to side with the winner. And I think that's what you're seeing in the administration. And it's a very difficult fence to ride.

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