Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., today joined other GOP leaders today in declining to fault the Obama administration’s response to the current crisis in Egypt, but he did criticize the administration for not continuing President Bush's aggressive pro-democracy rhetoric.
Kyl told reporters that he had has no “argument, at least with what we know publicly about the administration actions and statements to date,” but that louder promotion of democracy might have put the United States in a better light with the Egyptian protesters.
“I was reflecting over the weekend that we might be in a better position if we had more closely followed President Bush’s prescription for support of greater democracy in all parts of the world," Kyl said. "He called for that on numerous occasions … and there were a few specific instances in which the United States supported democratic movements."
Kyl argued, "If we had maintained that position and had that reputation ... then our calls today for restraint would have more credibility, because the people of Egypt would know that our heart was with their desire for greater representation."
He said, “Having failed to create that reputation at the time, I think the forces who are protesting in Egypt are less enamored with our calls for restraint and perhaps are interpreting that as support for [President Hosni Mubarak’s regime], which I really don’t think the administration is trying to protect."
Kyl said that holding to Bush's line would have reduced the chance that the uprising “could be hijacked by forces like the Muslim Brotherhood,” and he cited the Bolsheviks’ eventual takeover following the Russian Revolution.
Kyl said he was speaking on Monday with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn., who offered similar views on promoting democracy, but said that the steps Congress can take are very limited. Lawmakers may have no role except to consult “with officials in the administration,” Kyl said.
The administration should not send signals regarding any change in foreign aid for Egypt, he said. “Clearly, the situation has to play out before that needs to be questioned.”
Reiterating that he has no criticism of the administration, Kyl said officials should "be very, very careful" in protecting "the equities" that the United States has in the region.