NOW with Alex Wagner | January 29, 2013
>>> in a unanimous vote the senate foreign relations committee sent john kerry on his way towards full senate confirmation as secretary of state.
>> what a privilege, seriously, to work with you and now to work with you in a different way. i thank you very, very much.
>> with upcoming hearings for chuck hagel and john brennan , the current focus on foreign policy is likely to continue, although the question still lingers, what is the obama doctrine, or more to the point, is there an obama doctrine? according to the economist the president's main goal is to avoid costly international enfanglements as he prioritizes concerns. it is a tricky endeavor given the state of the world . in addition to the crisis in syria and the nuclear standoff between israel and iran, there are new protests in egypt where nearly 60 people have died and in mali the u.s. has been assisting french and african forces to push back al qaeda linked militants in the northern half of the country. for now officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens. joining now from cairo is nbc news foreign correspondent amman mojadine.
>> we talk about the obama doctrine and the difficulties in articulating a broad set of foreign policy goals. compounded given the state of play and also changing leadership in the middle east . give us the latest from egypt where things are certainly in a state of turmoil. what's your read on how this affects president morsi's grip on power.
>> you know, when the news came out, it is importantly linked to the united states because the defense secretary here, or the minister of defense , the head of the armed forces , came out with this statement saying that the country was on the verge of collapse. the state was on the verge of collapse if the country cooperate reconcile its political differences. now, why we say that's important is because the egyptian military receives close to $1.5 billion from the u.s. government . and hadz a close working relationship with the u.s. military . you get a sense of how important this state institution is to the overall affects here on the ground in egypt , and the kind of community that the u.s. has. it is a back door channel and an important one for the region, alex.
>> we look at what's happening in other sort of states where the government has a tenuous grip on power or the government is basically a failed state . we've seen al qaeda lirnked network rushing in to the host cells to take over virally. what happens in ejust a minute if this government does fall. who fails the game?
>> there are indications that the police force have been the most degraded state institutions. the police really has not been able to carry out basic law and order functions on a day to day basis, and that's what's jeopardizing the overall security, but what we've seen in the past and this is why it's important to the region and to the u.s. and the world really is that in areas like the sinai peninsula , if egypt doesn't exercise strong sovereignty and control over that, it can become a safe haven for the type of terrorist elements or armed militant groups that can carry out attacks on israel, that can destabilize ejust a minute, that can threaten the suez canal , and that has global imflikzs and regional ones as well. the concern really has to do with security, want necessarily right now the civil institutions of the country here in ejust a minute.
>> i want to bring in our folks in new york. we're talking about the obama doctrine and/or whether it can exist when you have a series of sort of cal amity that is have befallen one area of the world. there are no regional partners that you have to work with or that you know well enough to work with.
>> i think the president has been clear that he is willing to lead america into conflicts when we can actually have good impact and there's a cost benefit analysis performed how much it costs to be involved. libya, the cost is not putting in ground troops , but working with the french and the british. when we can do in a multilateral way so it's not the u.s. dictating its will or imposing itself in other parts of the land. elts not as clear as the neo condoctrine.
>> or the bush doctrine .
>> it means each case is a little bit different, and it requires a certain amount of subtly. the other thing i think the president has shown usually good, want always good sshgs patience. trying to figure out how to do things right rather than rushing in, and you do lose some opportunity if you take your time and assessing a situation even though people in egypt were yelling at him earlier to get involved and push mubarak out. it took him a while to sort of figure out the way to do that.
>> patience is hard too. that is just continued bloodshed, and the president has done nothing about it, and hasn't really apologized for doing nothing and has basically said we will get involved where we can get involved and where we have the resources to get involved. he is giving another 150 million in aid to the syrian people . that was announced this morning. there's a sense that much more can and should be done.
>> i think part of what we're seeing unfold is the new reality of how we have to engage in the world.
>> you mean mission accomplished .
>> part of the problem in syria, i agree. he i wish we were more engaged, and i take the argument is who would we arm? who would we side with? one of the things we saw in benghazi is on one hand they were putting people that were supposed to be on our side ask they flipped to the other side. that's part of, you know, we have not had the level of engagement in this part of the world to really understand these networks, to really understand how they're working and what those systems are, and i think going forward that's why we're going to have to have a new type of engagement. it's what secretary clinton was talking about next week.
>> before we let you go, what's the expectation in terms of u.s. leadership in the region? this is a whole new generation of reformers, activists, people in government. is there an expectation that the u.s. will be even that involved?
>> absolutely. they're very much a double-edged sword here. the united states suspected dictators in this part of the world for many years. people re he resent that. that has built hostility twavrdz the u.s. they're hoping with the new changes that the united states will change its policy favoring democratic transition over stability and sometimes dictators. alex.
>> thank you. stay safe. we'll be coming back to you for updates throughout the week. thank you to my -- i almost said my favorite panel.
>> don't tell ed rendell that.
>> my friends. thank you to bill, jake, karen, and david.