Today, more than a million Egyptians appeared in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demonstrate against the Mubarak regime and call on the long-time autocrat to step down from power and hold free and fair elections.
This morning, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) — fresh from joining a ceremony for a newly built illegal Israeli settlement — called in to Fox & Friends and discussed the situation in Egypt. He complained about the Obama administration’s response to the protests, saying that it showed that the United States has “abandoned a 30-year ally” and said that there are concerns that the protests “could have cascading effects across the Middle East.”
This took Fox host Gretchen Carlson by surprise, who said that she thinks “there’s a difference in supporting a country like Israel as a friend and supporting a country like Egypt as a friend.” Coming to the defense of a dictator, Huckabee responded by saying that he wanted an acknowledgement that Mubarak “had, in fact, not done everything wrong,” and that he had brought “stability” to the country:
HUCKABEE: Well, I had a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. And I met with about 15 Knesset members, had breakfast with about 20 European Parliament members. The overall consensus is two-fold. First, real shock and surprise down to the average on the street Israeli citizen at how quickly the Obama administration abandoned a 30-year ally and a long standing friend to peace and stability President Mubarak. I don’t think anybody is trying to defend everything he did as President, but they would’ve liked to have seen at least an acknowledgement that he’s been a friend these years. [...] The second concern is that this could have cascading effects across the Middle East.
CARLSON: But I do think there’s a difference in supporting a country like Israel as a friend and supporting a country like Egypt as a friend. I mean I know that Israel obviously wants Mubarak to stay in power because it’s been good for them in that situation. But I’m not so sure — can you really blame the Obama administration because didn’t the Bush administration handle Egypt the same way, and didn’t the Clinton administration handle it the same way?
HUCKABEE: There’s been a long-time concern from the part of Americans as to some of the heavy-handed ruling of Mubarak. I don’t think anyone was expecting there to be a wholesale endorsement or even an indication that they hope he stayed. But just simply an acknowledgement that he had, in fact, not done everything wrong, and had brought stability, and had kept a strong even keel to the peaceful nature of the border between Israel and Egypt.
To start with, it isn’t true that the Obama administration immediately washed its hands of Mubarak. Vice President Joe Biden denied that Mubarak was a dictator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually did refer to Mubarak as a long-time “partner” to the United States and a force of “stability,” to the chagrin of Egyptian activists like Mohamed ElBaradei, who want to see the administration completely withdraw its support from the Mubarak government.
Secondly, it’s odd that Huckabee is citing concerns of “cascading effects” across the Middle East and the toppling of other autocratic regimes like Jordan given that such an effect is exactly the point. Egypt’s protests were originally inspired by demonstrations that brought down the Tunisian dictatorship, and similar protests have broken out in countries like Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. It appears that Huckabee is above all else concerned with maintaining a status quo which serves the self-interest of countries like the United States and Israel in the short-term, but unjustly denies basic freedoms and rights to people over the long-term.