There are three outrageous things about President Obama’s FOREIGN POLICY GAFFE, in which he mistakenly asserted that Egypt is not an ally of the United States.
Well, at least three. That’s all I can think of while I’m still fueling up with coffee.
Let’s start with the gaffe itself.
“I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we do not consider them an enemy,” Obama said of Egypt during an interview Thursday with Telemundo.
Whoops. Obama either forgot or didn’t know that Egypt is what’s known as a “major non-NATO ally.”
This is not some insignificant technicality. We have only 15 major non-NATO allies around the world, and Egypt is one of the original five named by George H.W. Bush, along with Israel, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK THAT THE PRESIDENT KNOW WHO OUR ALLIES ARE?
Which brings us to the second outrage. Imagine if Mitt Romney said Egypt wasn’t our ally.
Ohhhhhhh boy. Some sample headlines:
Romney Gaffe Exposes Foreign Policy Weakness
Romney Jeopardizes Relations with Egypt
Romney is a Freaking Idiot!
And so forth.
But the president declassifies Egypt as an ally, and the press yawns wearily.
The third outrage is the White House’s response to all this. From the transcript of Thursday’s press gaggle in Golden, Colorado:
Q Jay, the President yesterday said that Egypt isn’t an ally. Is that a new position, or based on some new evaluation? Can you expand on –
MR. CARNEY: No. The President, in diplomatic and legal terms, was speaking correctly, that we do not have an alliance treaty with Egypt. “Ally” is a legal term of art. As I said, we don’t have a mutual defense treaty with Egypt like we do, for example, with our NATO allies. But as the President has said, Egypt is a longstanding and close partner of the United States, and we have built on that foundation by supporting Egypt’s transition to democracy and working with the new government.
This is both inaccurate AND misleading. Usually the White House is just misleading. So this one’s the Daily Double of spin.
In legal terms, as we’ve already pointed out, the president was speaking incorrectly. Not correctly. Egypt is an ally. The president said it is not.
Note Jay’s careful wording. He classifies an ally as a country having “an alliance treaty” with the United States. But Obama didn’t say anything about an alliance treaty. He used the broad term “ally.” Egypt is a major non-NATO ally, not, you know, a major non-NATO acquaintance.
What’s more, Obama was not speaking in diplomatic and legal terms. A phrase like “I don’t think that we would consider them . . . ” is not a reference to anything technical. It’s a dude’s opinion.
And it’s wrong. And I’m outraged, even before caffeine.