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Published On: Tue, Feb 22nd, 2011

A few words with Antiwar.com columnist Philip Giraldi

Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and intelligence officer with the CIA. Since leaving the agency, Giraldi has consulted with several Fortune 500 companies as an international security consultant and is the Executive Director of Council for the National Interest, an organization which advocates for more even handed policies by the U.S. government in the Middle East.

I have read Philip Giraldi’s analysis of US foreign policy for several years in the American Conservative magazine and Antiwar.com. However, I first heard him speak at the Campaign for Liberty’s 2010 Liberty Summit in Orlando. My colleagues and I at the Desk of Brian enjoyed Giraldi’s analysis and chatting with him afterwards.

We’ve heard from the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington and the cable/network talking heads speak about the demonstrations spreading throughout the Middle East and what we should do and the implications for the US and stability in the Middle East. Most of them are interventionists by nature and have a particular world view.

I wanted to talk to an expert from a more non-interventionist world view and get his thoughts on a few issues of interest.

Robert Herriman: I guess the biggest question concerning what’s going on in the Middle East and North Africa is what we should be doing.  In your opinion, what should the United States be doing, if anything?

Philip Giraldi: The United States should eschew making gratuitous comments or providing advice and should instead let the locals provide their own solutions.  Whatever comes out in that fashion will be a whole lot more stable and will minimize the likelihood that Washington will be blamed for bad results.  I have noted that the comments by Obama and Clinton have, at best, been counter-productive, angering both those seated on the throne and those who aspire to do so.

RH: In your estimation, how responsible is US foreign policy with the citizen uprisings in the half-dozen or more countries?

PG: I do not believe Washington is directly responsible for the uprisings except insofar as encouraging the stability provided by strong and often autocratic leaders has been a losing formula.  It should have been predictable that sooner or later the genie would escape from the bottle.  The United States should have avoided getting involved in local politics and should have followed George Washington’s advice to be a friend to everyone.

RH: I’ve heard Sean Hannity criticize President Obama’s handling of the Middle East crisis; in fact he said Ronald Reagan would have handled it better, using the example of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. What are your thoughts on what Mr. Hannity said?

PG: Hannity is basically saying that when you are frustrated by a development in a client state you shift from plan A to plan B but the objective remains the same, i.e. you maintain your foot in the door and exploit the relationship.  The Philippines was a much different situation in that the US had full access to the country and its leadership on many levels.  The US has very little leverage in the Muslim world due to the actions of the last three administrations.  Obama’s best option would have been to remain silent and let the situation play itself out.  He did not do that.

Rumsfeld was intent on going after Saddam hours after the plane hit the Pentagon

RH: Some in Washington and on radio and television seem extraordinarily “fearful” concerning the Muslim Brotherhood. Are their fears justified?

PG: We will have to see about the Muslim Brotherhood, but it has morphed from a bomb throwing group to a parliamentary party and we should view that in a positive light.  If we attempt to marginalize it right out of the gate we will eventually get the bomb throwers.  I am optimistic that they will be a Turkey-style Islamic based party, moderate and responsible.

RH: Some fear Israel not having “friends” like Mubarak in Egypt will be detrimental to both Israel and the US. Will Israel be in any increased danger without the likes of Mubarak?

PG: Israel has overwhelming military superiority and a nuclear arsenal, all thanks to the United States.  It will not be threatened by Egypt without Mubarak even if Cairo repudiates thepeace treaty, but it will certainly have to adjust to a different neighborhood.  If it sees itself as vulnerable it might even have to conform to the new reality by permitting the creation of a Palestinian state.  That would be a good outcome.

RH: I noticed some prominent neoconservatives like Bill Kristol and Max Boot support the demonstrators and go against the puppet regime of Mubarak. Didn’t they support Mubarak all these years? I’m confused. What do you make of this?

PG: The neocon support of the democracy agenda conforms to what they have been saying for years.  But when political parties they are even vaguely suspicious of emerge from the process their true colors will come to the surface.  They will follow the Israeli lead and Israeli interests will completely dominate their thinking.  But also bear in mind that the Israelis would probably welcome a lot of weak, divided Arab countries with political systems in chaos, like Lebanon, even if they are nominally hostile to Tel Aviv.

Thank you Mr. Giraldi for taking the time to answer some of my questions

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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