KARL: In my interview with President Bush, I asked him about events in Egypt and whether in light of the Arab spring, he pushed too hard for democracy in the Middle East.
BUSH: No. I think what you're seeing is an evolution. Democracies take a while to take root.
KARL: Has the Arab spring been a good thing or a bad thing for America?
BUSH: I think a good thing.
KARL: Even though with the tumult we've seen?
BUSH: Sure, it is tumultuous. But it's a good thing in that people are demanding their rightful place. And they overthrew a corrupt regime in Tunisia. They were unhappy with leadership that wouldn't listen to them in Egypt.
A lesson of September the 11th is, a lesson is, is that in order to have long-term security for the United States, democracies need to emerge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: We'll have more of my interview with president and Mrs. Bush later, but joining us now, George Will; ABC's chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz; David Ignatius of the Washington Post, and Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute.
George, all politics is local, even here, so let me ask you the parochial question. Is what has happened in Egypt, the overthrow of the Morsi government, good or bad for the United States?
WILL: Well, it's hard to rejoice in the overthrow of democratic forms, although it's hard not to rejoice in the overthrow of a Muslim Islamist government that threatened to screw down an anti-modern tyranny that would be difficult to reverse.
That said, when this began in Tahrir Square against Mubarak, there was much talk about all the young people with their smartphones accessing the social media, missing the fact that half of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Smartphones are not the symbol. That is the symbol of (inaudible).
The choice today is between two flavors of tyranny. One is tyranny fueled by religious extremism, and the other is tyranny leavened by corruption, that would be the tyranny of the army. And that's what they'll get.
KARL: And Michael, you have basically applauded (ph) this coup, and you're an advocate of democracy around the world. Explain it. This is a coup, right?
RUBIN: It is absolutely coup. I'm not going to do the Washington quibbling. But what the Muslim Brotherhood was basically saying is you either jump off the cliff with us, or we shoot you. Ultimately, democratization is a process. It's not just about elections. It's about the rule of law, it is about basic human rights, it is about popular participation, and it seemed that Mohammed Morsi increasingly was saying, no, it's just about elections, it's about majoritarianism. And the Egyptian people pulled back and said (inaudible), with 20 million plus signing petitions.
There's a tweet going around among the Egyptian opposition now that the Muslim Brotherhood is like the measles. You get them once and then you're immune. Let's hope it's the case if they Egyptians push forward with a quick transition and new elections. That should be the United States policy, to ensure that those new elections take place as soon as possible.
KARL: And, Martha, that does seem to be now what they're pushing for. But you had -- the president did his meetings in the Situation Room as soon as this was happening. They came out and said they were deeply concerned. Then we saw John Kerry in Nantucket on his yacht, I mean, (inaudible) that he was working very hard.
RADDATZ; Only an hour on the yacht, apparently, even though he's only been secretary of state for about six months, he was in Nantucket.
KARL: How concerned truly is the White House with what has happened?
RADDATZ: I think they are concerned. They're concerned going forward, they are concerned about violence. But it's exactly what George said. I think there's kind of this feeling that, OK, well, the Brotherhood is not in control anymore.
The primary fear here is what happens next? And what about the violence? And does them Muslim Brotherhood, do some more radical forms of that go underground, because they see what was supposed to be the democratic process did not work for them? Democratically elected, but they -- and I have to agree with Michael on that as well -- it was the democratic process (inaudible) not upholding. So I don't think the White House is deeply upset by what happened. But again, this was a military coup. That's the line. They still have to figure out what they say about -- how can you really say with a straight face -- I mean, the Egyptian ambassador did -- that it was not a military coup? I imagine the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Martin Dempsey, coming out one afternoon and saying, excuse me, we've pushed President Obama aside, that would be a military coup, and that's what you have there as well.
KARL: If you look at what Morsi had done, though, right, David, and I know you were very critical of Morsi and you were critical of the administration for being too tolerant of what Morsi had done. If you look at what he'd done, he had essentially dissolved the supreme court, declared his decrees above any other law in Egypt -- I mean, if a U.S. president had done that, maybe the chairman would have come in and wanted to do something.
IGNATIUS: I hope we wouldn't have had a coup. But it is true that Egypt was breaking down in the months before these events. Egypt had essentially gone bankrupt by June. It was bailed out only by an international charity. There were efforts to get Morsi to compromise, to reach out to the competition, get a broader base for governing, and he did not do it. The U.S. used all kinds of intermediaries, most recently Qatar, which has been the biggest financial supporter of Morsi. He refused that.
I think the view in the White House today is, perhaps naively, is Egypt and the United States get a do-over in Egypt. The first iteration of the after-revolution really didn't go well, by anybody's account, and now there's an attempt to try to do it again.
I think the strategy is to try to split the Islamist forces in Egypt. It's very interesting that one of the groups that supported the coup was the more conservative Salafist group known as the Nour Party to the right of the Muslim Brotherhood. And so the hope is that you can pull enough Islamists away, give them jobs in the new government. The reason that Mohamed ElBaradei will not be prime minister is because he was not acceptable to these Islamists, and they want to have them part of the group. So that's the idea, quick elections. I've heard the goal is six to nine months. Pump a lot of money from the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, UAE, into Egypt and get Egypt rolling again.
KARL: Although it is interesting. The moderates, such as they are in Egypt, do not consider this a coup. They consider this basically the military came to the aid of the people. And one of the problems the administration has had, people I have spoken to, is you label it a coup, first of all you have the legal implications, you have to cut off aid, but you also send the message to moderates in Egypt that you're once again kind of backing the Muslim Brotherhood. And the administration has taken a lot of heat over there.
RUBIN: I absolutely think you're right. The criticism I have of the administration is all too often it seems that President Obama is like a blackjack player who only wants to place his bet once he sees all the other cards on the table. And rather than studied neutrality, the impression Egyptians get is that we're always double-dealing for the other side, so every faction in Egypt assumes we're working against them, and that ultimately creates an undercurrent of anti-Americanism.
I think one of the best analogies we have to what happened in Egypt is what happened in Honduras in 2009, when the president of Honduras had violated the constitution, the supreme court ruled against him, he ignored it, and the military went ahead, sponsored a coup. The United States condemned it, but Honduran democracy is better off today for what happened after they had subsequent elections and so forth. But I would agree with George and David that the biggest untold story is what's going to happen with the Egyptian economy.
RADDATZ: We still see as Americans democracy through our own rose-colored glasses. I really think we do. We talk about, oh, it's going to be different there, it's different in these other countries, but we still expect that. And I think that's the hardest thing for Americans to let go.
It is -- they will get a do-over here. Now, what is the next democratically elected president in Egypt think about his future? He may have to play it a little carefully there. I don't know what message that is, but it's just different, it's a different culture. This was their first democratically elected president, and he didn't abide by a democratic process, even as they wanted it in Egypt.
WILL: There was a military coup in 1952. You had six decades of military rule. A brief moment of democracy, but there's no democratic -- no democratic culture to fall back upon. I don't think there's a danger of a civil war, because a civil war isn't just two sides, but two armies, and there's only one army in Egypt.
RADDATZ: And a well respected army.
KARL: But isn't the message to Islamists here is that democracy is not (inaudible)? You may get elected, you're going to be -- the election is going to be overturned.
RADDATZ: That's a danger, I think that's a danger.
KARL: And you're going to drive these people -- I mean, that's the fear, right, you drive them underground.
IGNATIUS: I think the biggest fear is that this movement of Islamists who don't get drawn into this government will submarine, they'll go underground. They are not big enough to fight a civil war. But they can replay the al-Qaeda tactics of terrorism.
I saw a Youtube video of a Salafist just enraged two days ago, saying, you know, if one in ten even becomes a suicide bomber, we will take this country down. And he meant it.
IGNATIUS: So that's the danger, that they and we will fall back 10 years to the period immediately after 9/11 and be back in that terrorism/counterterrorism nightmare.
KARL: And that seems to be exactly what they are promising. David, Michael, Martha, thank you very much. George, you're going to stick around.
Coming up, on the road in Africa with president and Mrs. Bush, their push to save women from cancer. Plus, he jumps into the immigration debate. And what exactly is going on here?