A critic of the Obama administration's foreign policy said the White House's response to rioting in Egypt has been confused but understandable, given the conflicting information about what is happening on the ground.
John Bolton, who was ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration, said the situation in Egypt took everyone by surprise.
"In terms of how the administration has handled it, I think the reaction has been confused," Bolton said. "Although in fairness, I will say nobody saw this coming. So I think that it may not be entirely justifiable, but it's understandable that the initial reaction would be confused."
Responding to a question after a speech at the 2011 Congressional Defense & Foreign Policy Forum on Friday, Bolton said a more active response from the administration on Egypt might have done more harm than good.
"I think there's too much risk of mushy statements that just make things worse," Bolton said.
In a brief response to the anti-government riots in Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called on both the Egyptian government and street protesters to cease all violence immediately.
"We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to shut down communications," Clinton said.
Protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation have escalated in recent days. According to The Associated Press, the headquarters for Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party burned to the ground Friday.
According to reports, the Internet and text messaging have become inaccessible in parts of Egypt.