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Keller @ Large: Egypt – Do We Have A Clue?

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Egyptian anti-goverment demonstrators flood Cairo's landmark Tahrir Square early on February 11, 2011, the 18th day of protests against President Hosni Mubarak who refused to quit office in a much-awaited speech the previous night. AFP PHOTO/PEDRO UGARTE (Photo credit should read PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian anti-goverment demonstrators flood Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square early on February 11, 2011, the 18th day of protests against President Hosni Mubarak who refused to quit office in a much-awaited speech the previous night. AFP PHOTO/PEDRO UGARTE (Photo credit should read PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – As the great Yogi Berra would say, it’s deja vu all over again.

Remember way back in 1979, when our embassy employees in Iran were taken hostage? That crisis happened in large part because of faulty US intelligence. We didn’t understand the nature of the turmoil going on in Iran after the fall of the Shah and what might happen when we allowed him to come here for medical treatment.

Our foreign intelligence failed us again in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

And now, as one of our most important allies in the Middle East descends into political chaos, you once again have to wonder – do we really have a solid clue what’s going on over there?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Thursday morning, as the word came down that President Mubarak was planning a televised address, no less than the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, publicly claimed that our information had Mubarak ready to step down, a “high likelihood” that it would happen by last night.

Whoops.

But this is no joke.

Add in the conflicting versions we’ve been getting of the radicalism of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in Egypt, and you have a formula emerging that is alarmingly reminiscent of past disasters.

Another question: why has our official policy seemed to fairly rapidly evolve from caution and urging a gradual solution to something closer to cheerleading for quick regime change?

We seem to now be advocating a transition of power more rapid than the one we undergo after an election – and without benefit of a new election in Egypt.

How does that serve our interests, or those of the Egyptian people?

I have to say, if our country was being ruled by autocrats like Mubarak, I’d be siding with the protestors too, he’s no day at the beach, and his time seems long past.

But foreign policy informed by faulty intelligence and impulse seems like a formula for repeating some of our worst blunders of the past.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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