Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a highly controversial figure in US politics, suggested this week that President Barack Obama’s handling the revolution in Egypt “correctly,” despite objections from Israel.
“We have been acting correctly,” he told Bloomberg TV during a Tuesday broadcast. “We have been playing catch-up, but so is everybody else.”
President Obama has, according to published reports, played a key diplomatic role in persuading Egypt’s military to stand down, and urged President Hosni Mubarak to not seek reelection.
That has not proved enough for the protesters, who continued to occupy a large public square in Cairo. (Continuing live coverage and chat here.)
When Iranians revolted in 2009, the Nixon-era official had similar praise for the president, suggesting he was handling it well.
“Well, you know, I was a McCain supporter and — but I think the president has handled this well,” he told CNN. “Anything that the United States says that puts us totally behind one of the contenders, behind Mousavi, would be a handicap for that person. And I think it’s the proper position to take that the people of Iran have to make that decision.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Kissinger was relatively blunt in his assessment of the evolving situation in Egypt.
“We don’t really know what’s going on,” he said. “We don’t know what is meant by the people of Egypt at this particular point. We know there are big demonstrations and they must represent various elements that exist in Egypt. So as I understand our position, it is that we hope it will be a peaceful transition.”
He added that he’d like to see “a pluralistic government that has re-elections” emerge from the turmoil, establishing a government that will “think about the economic recovery of Egypt.”
“In my view, it’s going to be a long process until we get to that point,” he said, adding that it’s likely mere “months, at most, before Mubarak will resign.”
And while he’s also supported the president on his Afghan troop surge and initiative to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, Kissinger has not been tapped as an adviser to President Obama.
After President Obama’s inauguration, Kissinger famously said it would be his “task” to create “a new world order.”
This video is from Bloomberg TV, broadcast Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011.