The push back misses the point. Whether or not we could have controlled the situation — and whether or not we should have tried — the fact is that we threw Mubarack overboard in just one week without giving him a chance to reform or deal with the protests. On February 2 Robert Gibbs announced the U.S. position:
Last night, Obama issued a brief public statement that included just one line about a prospective deadline for Mubarak’s exit from power: “My belief is that an orderly transition must be meaningful, must be peaceful and it must begin now,” Obama said.
But White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was more explicit Wednesday.
“‘Now’ means ‘yesterday,'” Gibbs explained. “When we said ‘now,’ we meant ‘yesterday’… that’s what the people of Egypt want to see,” Gibbs said, adding that a process that begins one week, one month, or many months from now won’t suffice.
One could make a good argument that we should not have intervened at all. But having intervened, we should have done so responsibly.