Interview with Representative Thaddeus McCotter

Interview with Representative Thaddeus McCotter

By John King, USA - January 31, 2011

KING: Let's turn now to Republican Congressman Thad McCotter, who says it is imperative at this moment that the president of the United States stand by our long-time ally in Egypt, including, of course, President Mubarak.

Congressman, appreciate your time. Congressman of Thad McCotter, Republican of Michigan.

What should the president be doing, right now, when you hear more and more people, especially on the streets, saying they want the president to be tougher, they want President Mubarak to go?

REP. THADDEUS MCCOTTER, (R) MICHIGAN: I think what they have to do is continue to support the hope for constructive change. We have already seen the vice president of Egypt come out with an olive branch toward the opposition, to those with legitimate grievances, to try to bring them into the government, bring them into the process.

It doesn't help if they believe already that the United States has written off Mubarak, or that we have written off the government as it stands. This would be a far more salubrious development if it were not for the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the chance for chaotic transition, which could be usurped. So at this point, the president has to express his continued support for peaceful change, which he has done, very well. To say that we do not support a wholesale chaotic change, which could empower Islamists to usurp a peaceful revolution. I think that that would be a premise that I would hope that the State Department agree with.

KING: Your initial statement as the crisis unfolded from Friday, said, "Right now freedoms radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and our other allies."

We have correspondents who have been out in the streets in these demonstrations, and they say, yes, there are some members of the Muslim Brotherhood there, but by and large it is middle class Egyptians, young and old, who are frustrated with their government. Who have had no political rights. The elections have been a sham. They want Mubarak to go. What's wrong with that?

MCCOTTER: Well, it's the same thing we saw in 1979 with the Shah, where you had a very broad-based popular coalition that was subverted by the Khomeinis of the world, and the radical Islamic factions within there. So what you have to do is find a way to separate the movement of the young people and of the middle class and others-separate them from the radical elements within the Muslim Brotherhood, who have not renounced the goal of Sharia law on a global basis, or the return of the Caliphate, which would be a disastrous not only for the Egyptian people but for the peace process in the Middle East, the Suez Canal and international commerce, and the interest of the United States.

KING: Aren't we in this box, to a degree, because for 30 years we have sort of shaved those differences and said, yes, it would be nice if you had political reforms to the King of Saudi Arabia. It would be nice if you had political reforms to the President Egypt. Nice if you had political reforms to many other people in that region. Then we just sort of shrug it off when they don't do it. Is your position essentially that we should only be full, open, 100 percent democracy, if we are convinced the good guys will win?

MCCOTTER: No, our position is the United States has strategic interests and allies throughout the world. Throughout administrations we have talked to both our allies in the Middle East, and elsewhere, to move toward further democratization. President Bush was one of those who has done that, as well as President Clinton, and now President Obama. So we continue to try to push them towards that. But what you do not want a push where you have a chaotic change that allows the enemies of the United States, and the enemies of our allies to come in and usurp what is a popular movement, and the to cause it to become radicalized, much as we saw in Iran.

KING: It doesn't sound like you have much trust, though, in just the overwhelming population of Egypt to take care of its own business?

MCCOTTER: I think history teaches us, John, that over a period of time while popular movements may be successful in deposing a government they do not like there is often the chance that in the power vacuum that is filled by the most highly radicalized and organized parties within that country, the vast majority of people were not Jacobins in France, the vast majority of people were not Bolsheviks in Russia, the vast majority of people in Iran were not Khomeinites.

KING: President Bush pushed for elections in the Palestinian Territories, as you know, and Hamas won those elections. Some said it was a big mistake on the president's part, President Bush's part to do that, when they weren't ready. And Hamas won that election. An others have said, you know what, not it's not. It's not a mistake. The United States should stand for democracy, let the people have their will and Hamas will prove it can either deliver services or it can't. Again, why not do the same in Egypt? If somebody is maybe not friendly to the United States wins the first round, we take our chances the second round.

MCCOTTER: Because if the individuals come in, as we saw in Iran, as we could see with the potential takeover from the Muslim Brotherhood, not only is it not in the best interest of the United States, it is not in the best interest of the people of Egypt, any more than it was in the best interest of the people of Iran.

KING: Do you see intelligence that the Muslim Brotherhood is that powerful. Most of our people who have been there for a long time, and have reported on the region, said maybe they would get 25 or 30 percent.

MCCOTTER: They are the largest opposition party. And if, as has been said, they are not playing a large role in demonstrations, I would think it would be very easy to make sure they are not brought in to the government. To enact the very real reforms that would protect not only the interests of the people of Egypt and further democratization and socioeconomic progress, it would also protect the interests of the United States, our allies and the most importantly the Suez Canal, and the peace accords between Egypt and Israel, which are the bedrock of future hopes for a lasting Mideast peace.

KING: And so, what happens, then, sir, if President Mubarak comes to the conclusion that he needs to go. What should the United States do then?

MCCOTTER: We should continue to work with responsible parties on the ground and the existing government, if Mr. Mubarak leaves, to ensure that the transition is peaceful, to ensure that it is successful. And that is an "if" that we do not know will happen at the present time.

KING: Republican Congressman Thad McCotter of Michigan. Sir, appreciate your time tonight.

MCCOTTER: Thank you, John.


John King, USA

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