Sunday, January 30, 2011

The CPMAJO Stooges

An incredible cheap shot by Malcolm Hoenlein on former IAEA head and Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. He calls him a "stooge" for Iran. Regardless of how one evaluates ElBaradei's tenure as head of the IAEA, there is zero support for that accusation. ElBaradei pushed for inspections of Iran's nuclear program, albeit not as aggressively as some might have liked, and was a vociferous opponent of military confrontation with the state, which certain more hawkish sorts very much did not like. But even taken to their fullest, these are policy differences, and should remain such. Acting as if ElBaradei in his role as leader of a unified Egyptian opposition is simple a front man (or useful idiot) for Iran is deeply offensive, and beneath the dignity of the CPMAJO or any other organization.

What we have is a simple slander against the most promising secular leader of the Egyptian opposition. Let's call a spade a spade -- it's one that likely flows from Hoenlein's fear that an Egypt not led by an autocratic thug like Mubarak will be an Egypt less amenable to Israel and America's interests. Which is a descriptively legitimate fear (while many of the same pressures which keep Egypt in America's camp will still be present in any new regime, they'll be countered by a newly salient need for democratic accountability toward a populace deeply -- though not blindly -- suspicious of both nations) -- but not one that normatively justifies kneecapping the Egyptian quest for self-governance, much less slandering the man who may prove pivotal in bringing democracy to the nation.


N. Friedman said...


I would like to agree with you here. I am not sure I can. While Hoenlein's comment may perhaps be over the top, ElBaradei has not exactly been aggressive in examining Iran's activities and many, not just Hoenlein, have remarked that ElBaradei has behaved more in a manner that gives cover for Iran, even if, perhaps, unintentionally, than he has been in doing his job. Which is to say, it is not impossible that he has acted as a front for Iran or it is possible that his approach, though not so intended, had the same impact.

At present, he has the support of the Ikwan, which is not exactly an endorsement that brings smiles to me or anyone who believes in democracy. It has been argued that he is, more important than whether he is a decent fellow, a man with no actual constituency in Egypt (as noted by Leslie Gelb) and, as such, will not come to power. Or, I suppose, if he comes to power as the man supported by the Ikwan, he will be controlled by others, most particularly the Ikwan. In which case, he will, either because he has no constituency or because he is beholden to others, he will not be able to maintain power, as occurred in the Russian Revolution and the Iranian Revolution or things will be no different than if a group like the Ikwan actually ruled, which would be a disaster for Egypt and, perhaps, the world.

So, I think you are being too quick to defend Mr. ElBaradei. I realize you cover your statements by saying there are policy disagreements about dealing with Iran. However, we have no clear evidence that Mr. Hoenlein is wrong and he may well have evidence to support his position, evidence for which you do not know.
One has to have considerable

N. Friedman said...

Please ignore the sentence fragment at the end of my post.