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Tim Pawlenty, on Iowa soil, weighs in on Egyptian crisis

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Apparent presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty weighed in on the situation in Egypt this morning after another book signing, meetings with some local legislators and a radio interview on Des Moines’s dominant WHO radio station.

Asked his thoughts on the Egyptian uprising, Pawlenty, during his first 2011 stop in Iowa said:

“Hindsight is, of course, 20-20, but with a chance to kind of look back on the situation, we would have been well served to encourage the free and fair flow of information in Egypt and also we would have been well served by encouraging and pressuring the leadership of Egypt to transition before now  ...

"Doing the hard work of developing democratic capacity, we want as a country to stand for places and people that celebrate freedom and ... human rights. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, so now we have a choice between a dictator and chaos.”

Pawlenty said his Freedom First PAC has policy expert Brian Hook on board and that the former governor is consulting with other security and international relations experts. Hook is a former assistant to President George W. Bush and was a U.S. negotiator at the United Nations Security Council.

Calling his international travel “uncommon for a governor,” Pawlenty said he has visited and met with government officials in Iraq (five times), Afghanistan (three times), Israel, Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan, but not Egypt.          

He was asked if he blamed the Obama administration for the current situation.

“It seems they were surprised and caught off guard,” he said, calling early statements by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and the president “inconsistent and bordering on incoherent, if you put them all together.”

When pressed about pinning American policy on Egypt on Obama, who has been in office for two years, Pawlenty said: “I think President Obama has been particularly lax in addressing some of these issues. For example, the other night in the State of the Union address, he hardly touched on national security and foreign policy at all ... But it is fair to say, more broadly, that our country has taken this past policy towards Egypt for years and for decades, and we have had some levers that we could have pulled to mitigate a situation like this.”

He said foreign aid and military aid should have been used as levers to push for democracy and American “core principles.”

“If you could replay the tape and rewind the tape 10, 15, 20 years, I think we could have better prepared for the circumstance that we’re now facing,” Pawlenty said.

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Comments (3)

Nice. A lecture on foreign relations from a governor who could not work out a budget deal with his own legislature.

Yep. Nothing says "democracy and core American principles" like military aid.

Pawlenty is sounding and acting more like Palin every day.

Pawlenty bashing aside, I'm glad his view of the situation isn't the typical protectionist view.

It's a good sign that he isn't calling for the US to support Mubarak. We have way too many conservative leaders who would support Israel at any cost, especially when the cost is borne by Muslims.