Clinton: US interests, Mideast reform sometimes clash

US secretary of state faults Egyptian military council for election delays, acknowledges that US deals with pro-democracy movements differently.

By REUTERS
November 8, 2011 06:54
1 minute read.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

hillary clinton_311 reuters. (photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

WASHINGTON - US interests sometimes clash with its support for democracy in the Middle East, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged on Monday, but she said democratic freedoms were the best guarantee of stability in the long run.

In a speech on Washington's response to the Arab Spring that toppled several US allies, Clinton implicitly faulted the military council that succeeded former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for moving too slowly on elections.

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She also acknowledged that the United States sometimes deals differently with pro-democracy movements, saying no two situations are the same and that diverging US interests sometimes force it to adopt varying stances.

Clinton used her her speech to the National Democratic Institute to address questions such as why the United States built a military coalition to force Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power while it has been more cautious in Syria.

The US justification for intervention in Libya - to protect civilians - would also appear valid in Syria, where activists say that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have killed hundreds of civilians seeking an end to his rule.

"Sometimes, as in Libya, we can bring dozens of countries together to protect civilians and help people liberate their country without a single American life lost," she said.

"In other cases, to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks and perhaps even with troops on the ground," she added.

"Our choices also reflect other interests in the region with a real impact on Americans' lives - including our fight against al Qaida; defense of our allies; and a secure supply of energy," she said.

"Over time, a more democratic Middle East can provide a more sustainable basis for addressing all three. But there will be times when not all of our interests align. We work to align them, but that is just reality," she added.


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