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updated 2/14/2011 11:51:01 AM ET 2011-02-14T16:51:01

Guests: Ron Allen, Richard Engel, Sue Herera, Chapman Bell, Richard Wolffe, Abderrahim Foukara, Ned Walker, Roger Cohen, David Corn

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Good-bye, Mubarak.  Hello, freedom.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews in Washington.  Leading off tonight:

Freedom on the Nile.  These scenes of jubilant Egyptians in Tahrir Square will eventually take their place in history alongside the fall of the Berlin wall and the release of Nelson Mandela, which happens to have been exactly 21 years ago today.

Less than a day after he defied the protesters and said he was staying, President Hosni Mubarak announced, through his vice president, that he was giving it all up.  The peaceful revolutionaries had won in the capital of the Arab world.

Last night‘s speech was the tipping point, apparently.  NBC‘s Richard Engel reports that the Egyptian military told Mubarak they would no longer stand behind him.  With the support of the military gone, the result was a bloodless coup d‘etat and the end of a 30-year dictatorship.

There are so many unanswered questions now.  How do you take the ousting of a dictator and turn it into a democracy?  Who‘s in charge now?  What role will the military play in the coming days?  And will these events inspire similar movements in other Arab capitals?

Let‘s start with NBC News correspondent Ron Allen in Cairo.  Ron, I don‘t know how you stay awake.  Maybe it‘s adrenaline, sir.  But congratulations.  I watched you last night.  You have established a rapport with the people you‘re covering.  What is it that you can‘t—that we can‘t capture?  I always ask this question when something really, really big happens.  What don‘t you see on television?  Is there something you see we don‘t, or feel?

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, I was trying to come up with a way to explain what‘s really happened here.  And I think—thought back to when we first arrived here a couple of weeks ago and we were down in the square trying to interview people.  And so many people were afraid.  They didn‘t want to give us their names.  They didn‘t want to tell us a lot about themselves.  They didn‘t really want to speak to us.  They were very cautious.

And you contrast that with what you‘re seeing all over Cairo, all over the country for that matter, now, people just feeling free, liberated in spirit, in mind, in mentality, in their outlook towards life.  And that is how far some people have come on an individual basis over the past couple of weeks.

You know, when President Obama was speaking, he quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said that there‘s something about the soul that yearns for freedom.  That‘s what was happening all the past couple of weeks in that square.  You could see it in people‘s eyes that they just wanted something better.  They were—this was an act of courage.  It was an act of defiance.  It was an act of thinking differently about life and thinking about the possibilities of life in a way that so many of these people never had before.  And that‘s what was happening on an individual basis there.

You know, there were individual acts of courage when there were groups of anti-Mubarak protesters, as we call them, clashing with police and clashing with other demonstrators.  But this was, in many ways, a mental and emotional journey that so many people are on, getting to this place where they now can stand in Liberation Square and just celebrate and party and let all this wash over them, and just feel so relieved and so hopeful about the future in a way that they just never dare dreamed just a few weeks ago, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ALLEN:  A really remarkable thing.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m trying to appreciate what it‘s like.  It seems to me this isn‘t like a successful soccer game, where you‘re cheering the team that won.  You are the team that won.  Isn‘t that the difference, that they are the people that feel like they did it, they did do it?

ALLEN:  Yes, these analogies to soccer games or to the 4th of July or to New Year‘s Eve—they seem in some ways so trite compared to the depth of what has happened in this square and across this country.  We‘ve been in the square, but it is really a national thing.

Yes, the streets are packed with people.  There are parades.  You can‘t—it‘s hard to get through town because there is so much—there are so many celebrations going on.  But it has really been an emotional and internal journey that these people have been on over the past few weeks or so, where they are just in a completely different place now and this nation is in a completely different place.

You know, we met a lot of very smart people in the square.  We met a lot of people who are very thoughtful, people who are Internet-savvy, tech-savvy, people who were—who are global in their outlook.  They know how people live in other parts of the world, people in their own peer group, people who are 20-something, 30-something, college graduates in many cases, and people who are not.  But they just sensed there there was something better out there, and now they feel like they have it.  They feel as if they‘ve become part of the 21st century, part of the world that so much of the rest of the world lives in.

It‘s really just hard to put into words, but when you look at people and you see the smiles on their faces, these people light in their eyes, you just see people now sensing a whole new range of possibilities and a whole new sense of freedom.  It‘s a word that has so many connotations, but it‘s just—when you witness it and when you feel this new energy and this new vitality that people have, it‘s just a wonderful thing to be a witness to, and frankly, a wonderful thing to be a part of, to have the opportunity to really experience this with these people over the past few weeks, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I was thinking just now the old ad for the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  And I was thinking of all these people with their master‘s degrees and—perhaps in economics or something—I met one of them once—and they may have studied with the same textbooks that you and I used, but they haven‘t had a chance because they‘re not connected.  They don‘t have the right brother-in-law or the right father or whatever.

ALLEN:  Right.  That was—yes, you heard that grievance so often, that there are people who felt like they couldn‘t get to the next level in life or they couldn‘t get an opportunity.  I remember meeting a young college student who felt like she wasn‘t going to get what she wanted because all the cronies from the regime were going to get those slots in schools or were going to get those job offers once they graduated.  And it‘s that class of people, as well.

But it‘s also people like taxi drivers.  You know, there was a man who we met who worked and earned a living day-to-day, and he just felt like he shouldn‘t have to live that way.  He just knew in his heart from meeting tourists who come to this country in such huge numbers that there was a better way.  He was meeting all these people every day from around the world, and he couldn‘t—he just knew that something was better out there.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

ALLEN:  And just don‘t underestimate how much courage it took for people to stand in that square.  You know, I come back to what I started this with.  People who were afraid to tell us who they were three weeks ago are today just standing up, proud of who they are, infused with a new sense of dignity, a new sense of just self, self-worth, and they are just brimming with confidence and just determined to take on this world and get everything that they feel that they and even more so their children really deserve and want.

MATTHEWS:  Ron Allen, I don‘t think you know how good you‘ve been as a reporter.  You have been unbelievable.  I get the feeling, and I think I get some of the reality from your wonderful, inspiring reporting from the streets of Cairo.  Thank you so much.  We‘ll be talking to you again in the days ahead.

Let‘s go to Abderrahim Foukara, who‘s with the Washington bureau—in fact, he‘s the bureau chief here of Al Jazeera.  You know, I think Al Jazeera‘s gotten a whole new respect out of this, a sense that we have that it‘s not part of the enemy, it‘s not part of the terrorist camp.  But more importantly, this week—and you and I have been talking—for the people of this country, to see the face of the Middle East—we never get to see it.  You may meet a person who works at a job here, perhaps a driver or somebody who works in a hotel, you know what I mean, the emigre community.  You may get to see a terrorist face, usually two or three days‘ growth of beard in a mug shot.  And that‘s all we‘ve seen.  And now we‘re seeing the masses of working and middle class hope.  Never seen it before in this country.

ABDERRAHIM FOUKARA, AL JAZEERA:  You know, Chris, I‘ve lived in this country for 10 years, and I‘ve certainly seen the energy and the enterprising spirit of this country.  And I think what we have seen coming out of Egypt over the last two, three weeks, what the American people have seen coming out of Egypt over the last three weeks is some—it just gave them a picture of what they could actually be getting plugged into, something that they can recognize, something that they can relate to because it can relate to them.

MATTHEWS:  I think of all the people who‘ve come here who are overeducated for the jobs they get here, you know what I mean?  You‘ll meet a guy who‘s driving a limo who‘s a fabulous guy.  You‘re talking to him about the most sophisticated matters.  And he‘s probably got a master‘s degree, you know?  And I see these people, many of them—maybe they‘re not dressed up for this occasion, but they‘re educated, right?

FOUKARA:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  But how do you translate these hopes tonight, at midnight over there, as you go to sleep in this euphoria—how do you translate that?  They don‘t have a Franklin Roosevelt.  They don‘t have a left of center, brilliant redistributer or a New Dealer, do they?  There‘s nobody like that there.

FOUKARA:  They don‘t.  But what they do, they have the genius of a civilization that‘s about 6,000 years old, as President Obama said earlier today.  What we have seen over the last three weeks—you mentioned Nelson Mandela.  Nelson Mandela is obviously an iconic giant and will go down as an iconic giant in human history.

This is certainly something in terms of its possible repercussions not just for the Middle East but for the whole world, something much bigger than that.  It took Nelson Mandela and the ANC, the African National Congress, several decades to bring about the end of apartheid.  It has taken these guys about a month.  They‘re young people.  They have the savvy.  They have the creativity.  They have the organization.  And they have the will.  And they have done it.

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe, based upon limited evidence, but profound evidence perhaps, that the military, the top command, gets it, that they have a transitional role here, they must be guardians in the short term of democracy?  Do they know that?

FOUKARA:  I think they do, despite all the conflicting signs that they‘ve sent to the Egyptians and to the outside world over the last three weeks.  On the one hand, they‘re telling the demonstrators, you know, We are here to protect you.  But on the other hand, we hear reports from the human rights organizations that they have been partaking in kidnappings and so on.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FOUKARA:  But I think, overall, they do recognize the immensity of the moment, and I think that they want to be part of that.  I think what we could be seeing, at least as far as the eye can see from here, is the army doing the role that the Egyptians want it to do, i.e., protecting them, protecting the nation, but allowing the space for this democratic movement.

MATTHEWS:  That‘s a little ululating there!  The declaration of amnesty is probably an important indicator that they want to be with this, not against this.  Let me ask you about the region you cover and Al Jazeera covers.  Freedom is contagious, a man hold me in Hungary one day in April of 1989, and then everything came from that, just watching television.  Hungary opened up the Iron Curtain.  The Berlin wall became irrelevant.  Yeltsin finally faced down the tanks by ‘91.  Took two years for it all to happen.  Everything fell.

Is this going to happen in the Middle East, or will the strong arms of the Ba‘athists in Syria and the strong arm of the ayatollahs in Iran prevent this kind of thing from happening?

FOUKARA:  I think, without a doubt, the Middle East is not going back to where it was two months ago.  And maybe a week ago, I would have said the Middle East is not going back to what it used to be two months ago, not passing judgment value good or bad.  But I think after what we‘ve seen, the way the protests have been organized and the way they‘ve speared the protests from violence, I think is a good sign that other countries will be watching.  I do not—

MATTHEWS:  Will they permit these peaceful demonstrations?

FOUKARA:  Well, that‘s the thing.  It‘s important to note, though, today, that today it‘s obviously a far cry from what happened in Iraq 2003.  But also today is the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution.  What a difference from that to this.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Thank you.  Abderrahim Foukara, thank you very much. 

It‘s great to get to know you.

FOUKARA:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Great reporting from Al Jazeera.

Coming up: The people got what they wanted, Mubarak‘s gone.  But what‘s next?  Can Egypt make itself a democracy and make it work?  And later, NBC‘s Richard Engel—boy, has he been doing a job! -- talks to the jubilant Egyptians in Tahrir Square.  I can‘t wait for that.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  (INAUDIBLE) anything in their life.  They‘re celebrating.  What are people so happy about there?  Their dogs, their children, their liberation.  This has become a giant birthday party for the country here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENGEL:  Raise your head up high.  You are Egyptians.  That is what they are saying here over and over again, that this is a proud moment for Egyptians, a proud moment in which they can hold their heads up high.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the great Richard Engel in Tahrir Square.  By the way, you‘ll hear more of him in our program tonight.  I must say, just as a note here, that I‘ve always argued in my life because I‘ve noticed this that if you really learn something, eventually in life, it‘s going to come in handy.  He speaks Arabic.  He lived with the people over there.  In fact, he lived with the Muslim Brotherhood people in their neighborhoods, the poor neighborhoods of Cairo, for all those years so that he could do what he‘s done this last couple weeks.  Nobody can do it like Richard Engel.  We‘ve seen it all last night and we‘ll see it again tonight.

Let‘s go now—we‘ve got former ambassador—American ambassador to Egypt and Israel, Ned Walker.  So you got a nice American background.  You‘re one of us.  And you can translate this because we‘ve been getting this wonderful cross-cultural vision of what‘s going on over there from the people we‘ve met.  But as an American who‘s lived over there, what‘s your reaction?  Are you amazed that this is happening?

NED WALKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT:  Oh, I‘m amazed at what‘s happening, yes.  But in a way, when you start looking at what‘s happened to the whole environment of that are, it‘s not so amazing.

MATTHEWS:  If you had heard a month ago there‘s going to be a mass uprising—

WALKER:  Oh, I‘d have said you‘re nuts.

MATTHEWS:  -- in Egypt and it‘s going to overthrow Mubarak, would you have been afraid of it?

WALKER:  No.  I wouldn‘t have been afraid of it.

MATTHEWS:  You wouldn‘t have been afraid of it.

WALKER:  No.

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WALKER:  I wouldn‘t have been—I wouldn‘t have said I wouldn‘t have agreed with you that it was going to happen, but I wouldn‘t have been afraid of it because I have too many friends who are Egyptian and they‘re not wild, crazy, radicals.  They‘re not like most of the other people in the Middle East, frankly.

MATTHEWS:  They‘re Egyptian.

WALKER:  They‘re Egyptian, which is—

MATTHEWS:  And I—I was struck with that when I came home from the -

and went there for a while coming out of the Peace Corps.  I said these are like guys, they wear Arthur Godfrey—

WALKER:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  -- summerwear, you know I mean, the American sports shirts. 

They seem to be Western.

WALKER:  Yes, they—

MATTHEWS:  They work in jobs.  They take the bus to work.

WALKER:  But the big that‘s happened is you‘ve had a huge change in generations.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

WALKER:  This new generation is not respectful of authority the way the old generation is.  It‘s more independent, and that‘s—

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think those people there weren‘t afraid two, three weeks ago of the military?  Why weren‘t they afraid?

WALKER:  They weren‘t—

MATTHEWS:  They‘ve always been afraid before.

WALKER:  They—

MATTHEWS:  Their names being taken.

WALKER:  Because the military made it very clear to them that the military wasn‘t going to shoot them.  And where there were a couple of incidents which appeared to have the military, it was probably the Presidential Guard.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, be undiplomatic, sir!  I don‘t know you well enough to do this.  Bibi Netanyahu tonight, when he goes to sleep, he puts his head on the pillow tonight.  What‘s he worried about?

WALKER:  He‘s damn worried about Egypt and he‘s even probably more worried about Jordan, both of which are, of course, the treaty members, and both of which can totally change and stress his military.  He has to guard the southern front.  That‘s a huge difference.

MATTHEWS:  Are so sure—I talked to David Ignatius in “The Washington Post” today.  He‘s a real Middle East expert.  He believes they‘ll hold to the treaty.

WALKER:  I know they will.

MATTHEWS:  How so?

WALKER:  Why?  Because the military finds that it‘s in its interests and the military‘s in charge now.

MATTHEWS:  So even with elections this September, you don‘t think they will yield a break in the treaty?

WALKER:  No.

MATTHEWS:  More cold peace.

WALKER:  Well—

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s go back to your worries about Jordan, if you‘re an Israeli or an American.  The king‘s there.  Queen Rania took some heat the other day—

WALKER:  Yes, she did, but she usually does.

MATTHEWS:  How so?

WALKER:  Well, she is seen not to be part of the people and even though—she is Palestinian.  But she‘s—maybe she‘s too exotic.

MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s beautiful.

WALKER:  I know.  That‘s what I mean.

MATTHEWS:  They think that‘s too exotic, just too princely, too—

WALKER:  Too princely, too remote from the people.

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Yes.

WALKER:  And—but he still has a lot of strength in Jordan.  People respect him.

MATTHEWS:  Abdullah?

WALKER:  Yes, Abdullah.  He was special forces, special ops before.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let‘s go through the weak countries that might fall. 

What about the Emirates, those little principalities? 

WALKER:  There‘s no problem in the Emirates. 

MATTHEWS:  Nothing is going to happen there?

WALKER:  Nothing is going to happen there.

MATTHEWS:  How about Saudi, where you have all those people that are not part of the royal family?  What about them? 

WALKER:  Well, the Saudis have an enormous cushion, and it‘s called cash. 

And they also have a great deal of respect, because people are afraid of what would happen if the family was out.  That is a place that could really go violently to Islamists. 

MATTHEWS:  Islamists, to troublemakers.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to the countries that—let‘s go across the—the North Africa scene.  Let‘s go to Morocco.  Is it in danger of being overthrown there, the king there, King Mohammed VI? 

WALKER:  The king is—again, a fairly stable situation. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Oh, he‘s stable.

How about Algeria? 

WALKER:  Algeria, no, that is a place that could go off. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Libya? 

WALKER:  Libya, anybody can—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  And already Tunisia.

WALKER:  And Tunisia is already there. 

MATTHEWS:  And let‘s look back to Egypt now, the chances of between now and September them getting—I hate to use the phrase, but get your act together.  Will they be able to form decent political parties, be able to organize coalitions and face the public with real options this September? 

WALKER:  Chris, you‘ve got to be kidding me.  You can‘t do that.  It‘s not possible to do it in that time frame.  They are going to have to find a way to extend the process, so that they can put themselves together.  I think they can do it, but it will take longer. 

MATTHEWS:  How long to get a good, honest election over there? 

WALKER:  Six months.  Six months to a year. 

MATTHEWS:  Beyond September? 

WALKER:  Beyond September. 

MATTHEWS:  Will that—will that be OK with these people tonight? 

WALKER:  It will be OK with these people if they see some things that happen in the meantime, such as changes to the constitution, such as the beginning of forming of parties, such as bringing civilians into the decision-making process.  So, it‘s a process. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  If you were the military command, the military council right now, would you spend this weekend to maximum effect by bringing in some kind of mix of representatives of the people in the streets there? 

WALKER:  I would. 

MATTHEWS:  And form some kind of transitional government council? 

WALKER:  Yes, I would, because, you remember, they have—they have canceled out the government.  They have fired the Parliament—the Parliament—Parliament as well.

So they have got to have some kind of representation to show that they are being open and they‘re going to be inclusive. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, who‘s calling the shots tonight when somebody commits a murder tonight or commits a rape, or—who is the legitimate authority in that country tonight, after this celebration is over? 

WALKER:  The legitimate authority is the supreme military council. 

And they have taken over the powers of the presidency. 

MATTHEWS:  So the police report to them now? 

WALKER:  The police will report to them. 

MATTHEWS:  And do you think they will be good at keeping order for the next couple weeks, while they sort the thing out? 

WALKER:  Yes.  Yes.  They‘re pretty good at that.  They will have to do it without violence, though. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.  If you‘re an Israeli prime minister right now, Bibi Netanyahu—by the way, the only world leader with a Philadelphia accent, I should point out.

WALKER:  Yes, I know.  It‘s wonderful.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Because he went to school in the suburbs.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Do you think that he will try to establish relations now formally with the government that‘s now in place now?  The treaty will assume to preside.

WALKER:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  It will continue, but will he begin to talk to the military command—

WALKER:  I would be very surprised.

MATTHEWS:  -- or to talk to Suleiman? 

WALKER:  I would be surprised if the Israeli military wasn‘t already talking to the military in Egypt, because, after all, they have to coordinate on the Gaza border, for one thing. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

WALKER:  I think it‘s premature for Bibi to try and intercede, or it will seen—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Will they recognize this government?  Will that be necessary? 

WALKER:  That won‘t be necessary. 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

WALKER:  It‘s not a permanent government.  It‘s a transitional government.

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s interesting.  I have watched the interviews with our people.  And everybody knows we‘re a close friend of Israel.  I haven‘t seen any attacks on Israel.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER:  It‘s been amazing. 

MATTHEWS:  None.

WALKER:  No—no flags burned.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No down with Israel, the Zionist entity.

WALKER:  No.

MATTHEWS:  None of that stuff.

WALKER:  It‘s been amazing.  And that shows that other issues are a lot more important. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I think it‘s—you say it‘s an Egyptian nationalist revolution. 

WALKER:  Right.  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And largely secular.

WALKER:  Yes.   

MATTHEWS:  Good news from an expert.

Thank you, Ambassador Ned Walker. 

WALKER:  You bet. 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you from—ambassador, former ambassador to Egypt and to Israel more recently, and former assistant secretary of state.

Up next:  The crowds in Cairo‘s Tahrir Square have been celebrating since word came that Mubarak is down.  He‘s now in Sharm el-Sheikh hiding out, surrounded by a military compound.  Our own Richard Engel has been the -- among these ecstatic Egyptians for all day now.  We are going to get directly to him for the most exciting coverage available in our country from Richard Engel—coming up in just a minute.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  We have been showing you pictures from Tahrir Square, where our own Richard Engel has been talking to jubilant Egyptians.  We have got much more of Richard with the crowd right now. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  People say that this is their wedding day, that this is their moment.  They are celebrating.  They are very, very excited. 

They also feel that they have taken ownership of this country.  We are hearing people say that they‘re going to clean the streets.  They don‘t want to pay bribes anymore, that they feel this has become Egypt for the Egyptians, with the Egyptians now in charge. 

And if this positive energy can be channeled forward, these people are totally convinced that Egypt will become a better country. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He‘s saying—he‘s saying—he‘s saying: “We are just happy because we have now taken our freedom.”

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He says: “We are—this is our country.  We are going to stay with it.  We are going to stay in it day and night.”

He‘s—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  Yes.  He‘s saying that the Egyptian people have shown their

strength, that they have shown their ability to—to be dignified, that

this is not just a moment—not just a moment of liberation.  They are

saying it is a moment of national pride, of showing the Egyptian character

the Egyptian character on display. 

You—you speak English?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I—

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL:  OK.  What are—what are you—why are you here? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is—

ENGEL:  Why—what do you feel today? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is—this is our day.  This is our country. 

This is my Egypt.  This is the revolution, revolution (INAUDIBLE) people. 

It‘s our—our Facebook.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are—we are the (INAUDIBLE) revolution.  We are (INAUDIBLE) Egypt will be—will be rebuilt with us.  Egypt will be rebuilt with us. 

ENGEL:  Egypt will be rebuilt with you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  Yes. 

ENGEL:  That is a theme we‘re hearing over and over, that Egypt will now be rebuilt, that they will—will channel this energy and take ownership of the country.  

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, no, I am speaking—

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL:  They‘re saying—they‘re saying—

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL:  Anyway, they‘re saying that Egypt will be built with democracy and liberty and their struggle. 

And you can see people standing on that tank -- 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to say something.

ENGEL:  -- tanks that were people were afraid of when they first rolled into Cairo.  When the police pulled back after clashes here, and these tanks took a position, people thought maybe they were going to fire on the people.  And the tanks never did.  

Now they are standing on the tanks, people here cheering the army, saying, hand in hand, the people and the army are together. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He‘s saying Egyptians are very, very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He says 80 million people are happy today. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He‘s—he‘s saying—he‘s saying he‘s upset that tourists left the country. 

(CROSSTALK)

ENGEL:  He said tourists should come back.  They have nothing to fear. 

He‘s saying, thank God—

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (SPEAKING ARABIC)

ENGEL:  He‘s saying, thank God everyone is happy.  Eighty million people are happy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s Richard Engel with the crowd in Cairo earlier today. 

When we return, we‘re going to go back to jubilant Tahrir Square on a day that‘s been called the greatest in Egypt‘s history. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Sue Herera with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

Stocks edging higher to close out a positive week, the Dow average climbing 44 points, the S&P 500 adding about 7.25, and the Nasdaq gained 19. 

Investors greeting the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak with relief.  Many are just glad to be able to turn that focus towards events closer to home.  But banks are higher, pretty much a direct result of easing uncertainty about stability there. 

Nokia shares plunging 14 percent on word it is teaming up with Microsoft to take on Google and Apple in the smartphone market.

And Ford moving higher after announcing it will pay down another $3 billion in debt in its first quarter. 

Clorox shares spiking in just the last hour of trading on word that investor Carl Icahn has taken a 9 percent stake in that company. 

Overall, a week of pretty solid gains for the markets.  Take a look at the Russell 2000, a lot of interest returning to those small- and medium-cap stocks.

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—and now back to

HARDBALL. 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

NBC News producer Chapman Bell has been down with the crowds in Tahrir Square for the past few days.  And he joins us now to talk about the mood of the people. 

Chapman, you have been unbelievable, like your colleagues over there. 

Are you—how many hours have you been awake right now? 

(LAUGHTER)

CHAPMAN BELL, NBC NEWS PRODUCER:  I‘m not even sure.  We have just been getting by.

But with all the excitement here, it‘s—it‘s hard to even think about sleeping too much.  It‘s more important to be out and see—see this change, this revolution taking place. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, most times, when you have a celebration in our

country, they last maybe a half-a-day, and then people go home.  But this -

are these people going to stay all night; is that the plan, do you think? 

BELL:  I—I think it will stay at least all night. 

I mean, it‘s—it‘s funny when you think about it.  They had stayed -

they have been in this square for 18 days, and have said they would stay in this square until Mubarak stepped down as president.  Now that he has done that, they‘re still in the square.  In fact, there are probably more people in the square this—right now than there was this time tonight.  I think the celebrations has—has far surpassed the—the protests for this time this—this—

(LAUGHTER)

BELL:  -- for today. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, what do you thinks‘ -- what—can you tell from your conversations and from your reporting whether people are going to continue, and this is going to be a celebration, or is it a continued sort of protest? 

BELL:  Well, I mean, today and this evening, it‘s a celebration.  It‘s purely a celebration.  They finally feel that the people got what they have been asking for.  They have been protesting that they wanted Mubarak to step down from—as Egypt‘s president.  And, today, they got their wish. 

They feel like they had the—the power of the people prevail.  They said, for 30 years, they have been suppressed and—or oppressed—and now they are looking forward to freedom and democracy.  So, for—for the time being, they are very proud of their accomplishments. 

MATTHEWS:  What has been the reaction to you personally over the last several days?  Has it changed to positive from more negative over the last four or five days? 

BELL:  Well, I mean, you know, I have actually only been in the square now for a couple of days.

And, you know, yesterday, it was—they were angry.  But they were—

they were angry at the president.  They were angry at the president.  But -

but they were very peaceful.  And they—today, they have changed.  They are so happy to—to have accomplished their goal.  And they‘re very—and they‘re very excited this evening. 

MATTHEWS:  Do they know what the two fingers mean, when they go like this with the two fingers in the air?  Do they know it stands for victory? 

BELL:  I—

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  I thought that was an English word, but everybody is saying it in Arabic. 

(CROSSTALK)

BELL:  So, this is peace, correct? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It means that (INAUDIBLE) that we‘re so happy. 

BELL:  It‘s happy.  They‘re happy. 

(LAUGHTER)

BELL:  That‘s what—

(CROSSTALK)

BELL:  They‘re happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Very happy.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  I guess V. means happy in Arabic. 

Thank you so much.  Your reporting has been great, Chapman Bell, for NBC News.

Let‘s go to “New York Times” columnist Roger Cohen.  He joins us now

by phone from Cairo. 

Roger, I have been reading “The Times” for the last several weeks now.  It seems like your newspaper is pretty optimistic about the turn of events here the last several days and weeks. 

ROGER COHEN, COLUMNIST, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  Yes, hi, Chris. 

Well, definitely.  How can you not be?  There‘s a fantastic mood in Cairo right now, kids dancing on tanks, women dancing on cars.  And this has been a very repressive system for a pretty long time.  And a leaderless group of young Egyptians rose up and—and overthrew a despot. 

So, I think that‘s a moment of hope for the Arab world.  You know, it‘s been a kind of “Jurassic Park,” with all these aging leaders across the Arab world.  And—and change is sweeping across the region now. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, just to look back a few hours, what was it in that—was there a kind of conversation going on between the protesters, as a mass movement, and the people in the military council?  Were they listening to the crowd and deciding that Mubarak wasn‘t going to be able to get away with giving some authority to his vice president? 

COHEN:  I think from the outset, you‘ve seen a very professional military that took upon the (INAUDIBLE) decision, that was not going to go down with Mubarak.  The army took the view that it is here to protect the nation, protect the people.

And about six hours before Mubarak resigned, there was a communique from the high command which said that the Egyptian army wants to be the guarantor of a process that leads to the fulfillment of the people‘s wishes, i.e. liberty and democracy, and spoke of the honest people standing up against corruption.

What the army will do in the next days, weeks remains to be seen.  But it was very clear from the first protest on January 25 that the army was not going to fire on its people.  And this was a very fundamental thing.

You know, the U.S. has invested $1.3 billion a year or more in the Egyptian military.  And I think, you know, we‘ve seen a very professional army.  Now, let‘s see how it performed in the crucial transition role it will have in the days ahead.

MATTHEWS:  Do we know how the conversation went between the army and Mubarak over the last couple of days, when he went out and made that rather pathetic offer to hand over some authority to his vice president, who he had selected in recent days—did he think or was led to believe that somehow that would be satisfactory to the army and to the people or not—to the people and then to the army?

COHEN:  Pathetic.  You said it, Chris, pathetic.  It was possibly the worst political speech in history, completely incomprehensible, and he went on for 17 minutes.  There are reports filtering out that the army had not approved that speech, which would stand to reason.  Gosh, I‘d really love to know what had gone inside the palace over the last 18 days.

Clearly, tensions rose between Mubarak and the army to the point that somebody went to him today, perhaps the Defense Minister Tantawi, and said, Mr. President, this ain‘t going to fly—because he was scrambling last night to try and salvage something.  And somebody said to him today, “Game over, Mubarak,” as one of the signs I just saw in the streets said.

So, you know, we have had the (INAUDIBLE) here on what went on within the palace, but that—I would—I would suggest that‘s a very good subject for some strong journalism.

MATTHEWS:  You know, we‘ve been trying to—sitting here in Washington, watching this, trying to get a clear notion as to the goal of the protestors, all million of them, perhaps.  And for a while there, was exile, banish this man, send him out of the country.  And yet when word came today, early today or midday today that he had been taken by the military to Sharm el-Sheikh, within the country, everyone was jubilant.

How do you figure—how do you figure that?

COHEN:  Look, I think the goal—it wasn‘t about geographic location, primarily, Chris.  It was about, he‘s got to go, he‘s got to get out.  It‘s got to end.  This rule has to end.  He has to quit.

And he quit.  So, I don‘t think, for now, people are too concerned precisely where he is.  He‘s gone.  Now, what will happen to him—that‘s going to be a critical subject in the weeks and months ahead, and what happens to all the people around him and those closest to him.  You know, a lot of people are already suggesting that it‘s very important for Egypt perhaps to have a process similar to South Africa of truth and reconciliation.

MATTHEWS:  I see.

COHEN:  And to pursue a course of, you know, a more vengeful course that might involve trials, that kind of thing.  You know, it could be extremely divisive.  Let‘s recall, Egypt has not known any kind of democracy since the coup of 1952, that‘s 60 years ago.  Everything is going to have to be built from the ground up, political parties, democratic held, free and fair elections.  It‘s all work that lies ahead.

So, you know, there are going to be some—and all this in a country with near 30 percent illiteracy and huge amounts of poverty.

So, this is a joyous moment.  I don‘t think we should think about the problems tonight.  This is a moment to celebrate.

MATTHEWS:  I understand that.

COHEN:  But there will be issues going forward.

MATTHEWS:  Well, as I say, with every country that gets its independence, it‘s a poor country.  I wish them a Franklin Roosevelt if they can find one, something who can distribute, rebuild, give them relief, reconstruct, create something in the long-term and deal with the vast aspirations of the people.

Roger Cohen of “The New York Times”—thank you very much, sir, for joining us tonight from Cairo.

Up next: what‘s ahead for our relationship with Egypt?  President Obama promises will be a friend and partner to Egypt.  But what will the Egyptians want for us and what will democracy in Egypt actually, well, look like?

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place.  This is one of those moments.  This is one of those times.  The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

That was President Obama today reacting to the big news in Egypt and here‘s a little more.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  These scenes remind us that we need not be designed by our differences.  We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.  And above all, we saw a new generation emerge—a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears.  A government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  We‘re joined now by a couple of pals of ours, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe and David Corn—you know—from “Mother Jones.”

You know, I‘m a little jubilant now, a little bit frisky I‘ll say something that will bother people.  But if you have—a lot of the people in this country think the president of the United States is Muslim—which he is not.  He‘s Christian.  They think he‘s foreign born—which he‘s not.  He‘s American born.  But they have this attitude about him, the people on the right, a lot of them, right?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES:  Yes.

MATTHEWS:  And here he is, and he comes in this jubilant situation in Egypt, where the first time in our lives we get to see people from the Arab world in a very positive democratic setting, not as terrorists or not as people fighting Israel or whatever.  Not mouthing epithets against the West, but people like us.

CORN:  Right, celebrating.

MATTHEWS:  In a way, it‘s like—it took Obama to have this happen.  Or it‘s just so serendipitous.  His critics will probably say, yes, we knew this was coming.

CORN:  Well, I mean, I think the speech he gave this afternoon—

MATTHEWS:  Yes?

CORN: -- the remarks, were right on point.  I mean, he celebrated but he also set a standard.  He says nothing less than genuine democracy.  And he praised the military for the restraint it has shown and for making all the right statements so far, but set the standards, want fair and free elections, to lift the emergency law.

MATTHEWS:  So, he‘s talking to the military?

CORN:  That‘s the game here.  In terms of power politics, that‘s the game.  And he wants to encourage them to keep the word they‘ve already given.

MATTHEWS:  OK. Now, we have a free bit of communication going on, Richard Wolffe.  We know who we‘re talking to.  We‘re not talking to a dying despot, or a leaving despot.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  We‘re talking to a very powerful military that is very professional and it‘s proven its discipline.  They can control events to some extent now.  Is that the way you read it, Richard, that we‘re trying to send in the right direction?

WOLFFE:  They‘ve been controlling events all along, and Mubarak was a military guy as well.  So, the danger here is obviously the military install one of their own people and they stay on forever.  Of course, the channels of communication, military to military, have been very good.  So, that‘s one important factor here.

Also American military aid.  That‘s what $1 billion or $2 billion goes to.  That‘s an important measure here as well.

But the tricky thing, as complicated as it‘s been for the administration up to this point, the hard thing here is moving this democratic reform along without making it seem like whoever they‘re helping, whether it‘s in the opposition or people inside the current government, trying to spin out and establish themselves, without making them seem like American Stooges, because that‘s the kiss of death.

So, for all the experience America has in helping civil society, helping opposition parties, free and fair elections around the world, it‘s important not to make this an American-led thing.  And that‘s why actually, all the conservatives who said, you know, this president needs to go out there and say, “Yay for America, let‘s see the same in Iran and Syria.”

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

WOLFFE: -- that‘s why he was right not to do that today.

(CROSSTALK)

WOLFFE:  It can be counterproductive.

MATTHEWS:  One of the smartest and more mature conservatives in this country, George Will, he almost seems progressive by his stand, as some of these people—

WOLFFE:  Sometimes.

MATTHEWS: -- has said, you know, hands off isn‘t a bad policy right now.

CORN:  No, no.  Right now things are going in a positive direction.  You have an amazing power within the people, and they have their opposition leaders, and it‘s a diverse opposition.  And so, I don‘t think the administration has to weigh in an explicit manner.  But out of $1.5 million in aid we give Egypt year, $1.3 billion of that goes to the military.

MATTHEWS:  Right.

CORN:  So, there‘s a lot of contact going on before this.

MATTHEWS:  And, Richard, every time one of these occasions happened, whether it‘s the birth in the new South Africa, I keep wishing they would find a Roosevelt—probably someone from the center left, someone who can be democratic and also strong and brilliant, in giving people what they need in the short run, and building toward what they need in the long run.  It‘s so hard to find leaders like that.

WOLFFE:  It is.  There are not many Nelson Mandelas out there.  That‘s why they‘re great figure.

But, of course, the danger, and the people inside the West Wing have been worried about this from the beginning, the danger is that a charismatic figure turns out to be a radical, someone we don‘t know, and someone even beyond the Muslim Brotherhood.

And, by the way, as part of this, let‘s just remember, we saw regime change in Egypt today—very different from regime change in Iraq.  And how much more successful?  For all those people—

MATTHEWS:  Right.

WOLFFE: -- on the right who said this administration has stumbled, this is regime change that did not cost American lives.

MATTHEWS:  Thank you.  Well said.

CORN:  Or Egyptian lives to the amount that we had losses in Iraq.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t need a Second Amendment to do this stuff.

Anyway, thank you, Richard Wolffe.  And thank you, David Corn.  Have a nice weekend.  It‘s a weekend to celebrate, I believe.

When we return, “Let Me Finish” with the roots of revolution.  The disillusionment of so many Egyptians and how they‘re seizing the opportunity now to make their country better.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  “Let Me Finish” tonight with a feeling.  For those who care about politics, this today in Egypt is what we care about.  It‘s about people—people who think and care taking a hand in their country‘s destiny.

It will not always be pure or perfect.  People are not always alert or smart or even good in their intentions.  But in the ancient land of Egypt, the fall of Mubarak today is the result of an alert, smart and good people.  They saw their chance, they saw a way to do it and they pursue a national good.

Watching this on television is an opportunity for us in America to see something we don‘t often get to see—people far from us but not different from us, people of a different culture but a similar aspiration.  You go to school, you work to learn.  You have hopes.  You want a chance to follow your dream.

To the young adults of Egypt, that‘s been a frustrating, brutal existence.  You sit in a cafe and talk about what you want to do, what you could do but can‘t.  And you watch those few at the top, the in-laws and cousins and other connected ones who get the posts in government, the business breaks, the partnerships, the openings in the crack.  If you speak out, you‘re jailed.

As a tourist, you see none of this.  Egypt is scenic to the visitor.  It‘s not scenic to live in a police state, to face prison and torture if your voice gets too loud or too listened to.

So, once again, we see the power of democracy.  It was the sight, in fact, of people pouring through it that brought the Berlin Wall down.  It‘s simply people who wanted to vote that changed South Africa, not the gun, not the little conspirators hiding in rooms planning to plant bombs or using airplanes to blow up buildings.  Not hijackers or other suicidal killers with bombs planted in their underwear.  None of those have overthrown a dictator.

Here the people did it with only their voices, their arms waving with feeling, their souls on fire.

Again, democracy is only rarely perfect, only rarely pure.  But here in its beginnings, it is close to it.  It is nonviolent, it is popular and it has a happy face.  With the people of Egypt, this great land, so much older than ours, this democracy, so much younger, we say and agree, God is great.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  We‘ll be back in an hour with another live edition of HARDBALL.

More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.

           

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