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Joe Lieberman on Egypt

5:52 PM, Feb 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Senator Joe Lieberman delivered a speech today at an AIPAC event, speaking primarily about Egypt. Here are key excerpts (full text below):

“We cannot be naïve about the obstacles and the uncertainties that lie ahead in Egypt, which is today just at the beginning of its transition to democracy. But we have seen, repeatedly in our lifetimes, democracy take root in places where few predicted it was possible. From Indonesia to Chile, and from East Germany to South Korea, authoritarian regimes have been supplanted by flourishing free societies in every corner of the earth, and the United States and the world are better for it.

“A democratic Egypt is definitely achievable, and it is clearly in our national interest to do everything we can to support the Egyptian people as they go to work to bring it into being. Americans and Egyptians are now natural allies in our hopes and aspirations for a new democratic Egypt, and so too may I add, are the people of the one mature democracy in the Middle East today—and that, of course, is Israel.

“That means we must encourage the Egyptian army to immediately lift the emergency law and to forge a genuine partnership with a broad and representative spectrum of the opposition, so that a transitional government can be formed that reflects the aspirations and inspires the confidence of the Egyptian people. It means providing whatever assistance we can as that transitional government takes steps to revise the Egyptian constitution, to open up space for real political dialogue and competition, and to lay the groundwork for elections that are truly free and fair.

“We and the rest of the world must also continue to encourage the new Egyptian government to respect its international and regional commitments, including the 1979 peace treaty with Israel that Sadat and Begin signed and successive generations of leaders in Israel and Egypt have upheld. The statement of the Egyptian Army to this effect over the weekend was a significant step, and fits a broader pattern of behavior by the Army in recent weeks that is encouraging.

“There is also reason to believe that a truly democratic Egypt will ultimately have better relations with Israel, because peace is usually most secure and sustainable when it rests on the foundation of freedom. It is this possibility for a warm peace between Israel and Egypt—not the cold peace that has existed, but the full peace with broad mutually beneficial partnerships in business, education, healthcare, and technology, that is only possible between two free and democratic peoples—that should be our vision. And as we work together with our partners in Egypt to realize this vision, we should remember that no two democracies have gone to war with each other in over two hundred years.”

The full text of Senator Lieberman’s speech, as prepared for delivery:

Today, Senator Lieberman delivered remarks concerning the situation in the Middle East to the leadership of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), particularly highlighting the developments in Egypt and Iran.  Below is the full text of the speech as prepared for delivery. 

Thank you so much, Lonny, for that wonderful introduction. It is such a pleasure to be here with you this afternoon.

Normally, when a Senator is asked to give a speech like this, he begins by acknowledging the names of people in the audience he recognizes and holds in esteem. But looking out at the group assembled here today, I see so many familiar faces, so many treasured friends—I could spend the next hour doing nothing else!

Now this would be very emotionally satisfying for me—but I understand that you were promised a speech, not a filibuster, and so I will restrain myself.

Suffice it to say, when it comes to AIPAC, I consider the people in this room to be more than just my policy allies, more than just my friends. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you for everything you have done to help me throughout my career in public life. And I promise you—I am not done yet! 

I’d like to begin today by talking about the subject that I am sure is on the minds of everyone here: the historic events that have taken place in Egypt over the past three weeks and that are still unfolding there, and what they mean for the United States and for Israel.

I am going to put forward an essentially hopeful view of the impact of recent events in Egypt, as well as Tunisia, but I also do so with humility. 

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