OTR Interviews

Kissinger Looks at Egypt's Past, Present and Possibly Unstable Future

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 31, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining us is former secretary of state Dr. Henry Kissinger. Nice to see you, Dr. Kissinger.

DR. HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Always good to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Kissinger, should we have seen this coming, number one? And number two, what can we do? And number three, are we likely to have success?

KISSINGER: Well, one could see it coming what presidents have to face is what priorities they can give to specific actions. And after all, here we have had five presidents believing that Mubarak was their best way to achieve American objectives in the region.

Engaging and redoing Egypt is a very huge undertaking. But the last few years one probably could have seen that Mubarak was slipping. But that isn't the issue today. I think the issue is strategic change could come in the region if Egypt evolves in any number of ways that one can foresee.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms over which way Egypt can evolve, I guess it is democracy as we know it with someone we are comfortable as heading the country, or it could be a democracy where someone is elected we don't agree with or may take the country in a direction that strategically is bad for us and our allies like Israel. Which do you think is more likely?

KISSINGER: Again, depending on how the Mubarak transition takes place, if I look at the political forces that one can identify in Egypt, there are more pro-Islamic, anti-Israel, I would say maybe even anti-U.S. forces than pure democrats the way we understand it.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's a bad sign, if there are anti-Israel, anti-U.S., pro-Islamic, I assume you mean the extreme Islamic, that's very bad for the region for us and for Israel.

KISSINGER: There are many gradations. We shouldn't say absolutely it's going to go one way or the other. But what one should understand is that whatever one can say about Mubarak, what existed in Egypt from Sadat on was a stabilizing influence in the region.

We may now get a government that is more attractive from the point of view of American interests. But the process is going there is going to absorb Egyptian energy on their own domestic problems, and that is what we should focus on in this country, not on the minute-to-minute of something that has its own momentum going on in the streets where you can't tell who stands for what in these groups other than they want to replace Mubarak. That is clear.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where does Jordan fit in? Jordan, like Egypt, signed an agreement with Israel. Is Jordan immune from all this activity in Egypt or is this contagious?

KISSINGER: Egypt is the cultural center of the region. We've been so used to Sadat and Mubarak we forget for 30 year period before them it was a fount nationalism anti-U.S. activities. So, I think Jordan will be vulnerable to some of these trends, and particularly if government after government is overthrown by demonstrations in the streets it may set a pattern. I'm worried about Jordan.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you are in the United States and don't pay attention to foreign affairs and foreign matters and you are wondering why should I care about what is going on in Egypt, what is the answer?

KISSINGER: I'm not sure I understood the question.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you don't have particular interests in what is going on in the world and you are watching tonight and see Egypt protesters and think why should I care here in the United States about Egypt? What is the answer? Why should Americans care?

KISSINGER: Egypt is the key country in the region. It has lots of population. It has a lot of educated people. If we have disorder in the region, it is going to affect our economy and it's going to affect the prospects of peace in the whole region. And it's been proved whenever the region blows up, the United States gets involved.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Kissinger, thank you, sir.