Let’s pose a little history test. What American President said this, and where did he say it?

[N]o system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other.

I could have made it a little easier by including the phrase that preceded it — “So let me be clear:”. Yes, that was a quote from Barack Obama, in a June 2009 speech he delivered in Cairo. Apparently, Obama figured that the Egyptians wouldn’t remember that. Wrong:

A top Egyptian minister accused the United States of imposing its “will” on its Arab ally, as the White House warned that Cairo had failed to even reach a “minimum threshold” for reform.

Who set the “minimum threshold”?  Obama?  Isn’t that the same as imposing a system of government on Egypt, and on Obama’s timeline as well?  Obama made that speech to draw a distinction between his “smart power” diplomacy and the supposedly reckless and arrogant foreign policy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.  Only it seems that Obama’s been a lot more reckless and arrogant than Bush ever was with what had been a decades-long American ally in a very unstable region.

And that’s the impression Egyptians have as well:

“When you speak about ‘prompt,’ ‘immediate,’ ‘now,’ as if you are imposing on a great country like Egypt, a great friend that has always maintained the best of relationship with the United States, you are imposing your will on him,” Abul Gheit said.

Gheit isn’t the only one in the region to notice, either:

Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up President Mubarak if the White House tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt. In a testy personal telephone call on January 29, King Abdullah told President Obama not to humiliate Mr Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the US withdrew its aid programme, worth $1.5 billion annually.

America’s closest ally in the Gulf made clear that the Egyptian President must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity.

“Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated,” a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times.

Obama might want to consult his own speech to the Egyptians from less than two years ago.  (h/t: HA reader Severn)

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