Maybe you’ve noticed that the Obama administration’s strategy with regard to the ongoing Egyptian uprising has lacked a certain consistency. That’s partly because of divisions within the president’s closest circles about how to deal with the crisis and its various factions, and as the L.A. Times reported Wednesday, something like harmony has recently been achieved, but it may not last long. —KA
Los Angeles Times:
After sending mixed signals, the administration has appeared to settle on supporting a measured transition for easing Mubarak out of power. That strategy, which remains the subject of vigorous debate inside the administration, calls for a Mubarak crony, Vice President Omar Suleiman, to lead the reform process.
[...] But that position has been harder to defend as Suleiman and other Mubarak allies appeared to dig in, refusing the administration’s entreaties to undertake swift reforms such as scrapping the country’s longstanding state of emergency. On Wednesday, Suleiman warned ominously of a coup unless the unrest ended. That prompted White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to fire back that the Egyptians should “expand the size and scope of the discussions and the negotiations and to take many of the steps that we outlined yesterday — one of which is lifting the emergency law.”
[...] The White House declined to elaborate on the positions staked out by Obama’s advisors, though they acknowledged a robust and ongoing debate. But aides have revealed some of the disagreements in group meetings and one-on-one discussions with experts, including former U.S. diplomats.
The current situation reflects Obama’s decision-making process as president. On key issues, he has encouraged open-ended debate, preferring to ponder all sides of the argument before, sometimes slowly, choosing a position in the middle ground. In deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, for example, his decision reflected a compromise between his military advisors and those like Vice President Joe Biden, who argued that a swift drawdown was needed.”
President Obama gestures during a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Feb. 1.