'This Week' Panel: Crisis in Egypt

George Will, Martha Raddatz, David Ignatius, and Michael Rubin on Egypt's future.
9:48 | 07/07/13

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Transcript for 'This Week' Panel: Crisis in Egypt
In my interview with president bush, I asked him about egypt and whether in light of the arab spring he pushed too hard for democracy in the middle east. No. What I think what you're seeing is an evolution. Democracies take a while to take root. Has it been good or bad? I think a good thing. Even with the tumult? Sure it is. But it's a good thing in that people are demanding their rightful place. They overthrew a corrupt regime? Tunisia. They were unhappy with the leadership that wouldn't listen to them in egypt. But a lesson of september 11th is in order to have long-term security for the united states, democracies need to emerge. We'll have more of the interview with president and mrs. Bush later. But joining us now, george will, martha raddatz, david of the washington post. Is what has happened in egypt good or bad for the united states? 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 tie -- anti-modern tyranny that would be difficult to reverse. When it first started in tahrir square, there was talk of the young people with smartphones accessing social media. Missing the fact that half of egyptians live on less than $2 a day. Smartphones are not the symbol. Now it's between two flavors of tyranny. One is tyranny fueled by religious extremism, and the other is tyranny by corruption, the tyranny of the army. That's what they'll get. And michael, you have seen this coup, and you're an advocate of democracy around the world. Explain it. This is a coup, isn't it? It is. I'm not doing the washington quibbling. The muslim brotherhood said you jump off the cliff or we shoot you. Ultimately it's not just about elections, it's about rule of law, basic human rights, popular participation, and seemed that mohamed morsi was increasingly saying it's about elections and majorityism and the egyptian people did pull back and participated with 20 million plus signing petitions. There's a tweet going on 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 push forward with a quick transition and new elections. That should be the united states policy to ensure the new elections take place as soon as possible. And it seems that's what the white house is pushing for. The president did his meetings in the situation room. They came out and said they were concerned. And we saw john kerry in nantucket on his yacht. The state department said he was working hard. Only an hour on the yacht even though he's secretary of state for six months. He was in nantucket. How concerned is the white house with what has happened? They are concerned. They're concerned going forward about violence. But it's what george said. I think there's kind of a feeling that, okay, well, the muslim brotherhood is not in control anymore. The primary fear here is what happens next? And what about the violence? Does the muslim brotherhood do 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, and i have tagree with michael, it was the democratic process they were not up holding. I don't think the white house is deeply upset by what happened. But this was a military coup. That's the line. They have to figure out what they say. How can you say with a straight face, the egyptian ambassador did, it was not a military coup. The chairman of the joint chiefs coming out and saying excuse me, we've pushed president obama aside, that's a military coup. That's what you have there as well. If you look at what morsi had done, david, and you were critical of morsi and the administration for being too tolerant of what he had done. He had essentially dissolved the supreme court, declared his decrees above law in egypt, if a u.S. Presint did that, maybe the chairman would have wanted to do something. I hope we wouldn't have had a coup. But egypt was breaking down in the months before the events. They had gone bankrupt by june and bailed out by international charity. There were efforts to get him to compromise, reach out to the opposition, to find a broader base for governing. He didn't do it. U.S. Used all kinds of intermediaries, most recently cutter, the biggest financial supporter of morsi. He refused that. The view in the white house today is, perhaps naively, is that egypt and the united states get a do over in egypt. The first one didn't go well. Now there's an attempt to do it again. I think the strategy is to try to split the islamist forces in egypt. It's interesting that one of the groups that supported the coup was the more conservative group known as the newer party to the right of the muslim brotherhood. So the hope is that you can pull enough islamists away, give them jobs in the new government. The reason that he will not be prime minister is he's not acceptable to the islamists, and they want them to be part of the group. So then 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, into egypt and get them rolling again. It's interesting. The moderates, such as they are in egypt, do not consider this a coup. They consider this the military coming to the aid of the people. And one of the problems the administration has had, people i have spoken to, you label it a coup, you have the legal implicat implications, you have to cut off aid, but send the message to moderates that you are once again backing the muslim brotherhood, and the administration has taken a lot of heat over there. I absolutely think you're right. The criticism of the administration is all too often it seems president obama is like a blackjack player who only wants to place a bet with the other cards on the table. Rather than study neutrality, the impression egyptians get is that we're double-dealing for the other side. Every faction assumes we're working against them, and that creates an undercurrent of anti-americanism. One of the best analogies is what happened in honduras in 2009 when the president had violated the constitution, the supreme court ruled against him, he ignored it, and the military went ahead, sponsored a coup, the u.S. Condemned, but they are better off today for what happened after they had subsequent elections and so forth. But I would agree that the biggest untold story is the egyptian economy. Martha. We still see democracy through our rose-colored glasses. We do. It's going to be different there, different in the other countries. But we still expect that. And I think that's the hardest thing for americans to let go. They will get a do-over here. What is the next democratically elected president in egypt think about his future? He may have to play it carefully. I don't know the message. But it's different, it's a different culture. This was the first democratically elected president and he didn't abide by a democratic process even as they wanted it in egypt. There was a military coup in 1952. 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, not just two sides, but two armies, and there's only one in egypt. And a well-respected army. I think the message to islamists here is democracy is not for you. You may get elected, it's going to be overturned. That's a dangers -- you're going to drive these people underground. The biggest fear is this movement of islamists who don't get drawn in will submarine, go underground. They're not big enough to fight a civil war. But they can replay the al-qaeda tactics of terrorism. I saw a youtube video of an islamist enraged, if one in ten egyptians been -- becomes a suicide bomber, we will take this country down. And he meant it. They will fall back to the period immediately after 9/11 and be back in the terrorism/counterterrorism nightmare. That's what they were promising.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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