June 9, 2011 |
When tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters filled Cairo's Tahrir Square for 18 tense days and toppled Egypt's brutal dictator early this year, Mohamed ElBaradei visited the street revolutionaries exactly once — briefly — and never went back. Since then, ElBaradei has made repeated appearances on American TV talk shows to portray himself as the leader of Egypt's opposition movement and to argue that he now should become the country's first freely elected president. Revisionism is a recurrent theme in ElBaradei's memoir, "The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times.
February 13, 2011 |
"Mission Accomplished" read the hauntingly familiar phrase from Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim on Thursday when the first word came that President Hosni Mubarak might step down. Ghonim delivered the words by Twitter, unlike George W. Bush, who had them printed on a banner. But in both cases, they were premature. As Richard Haass, a former top State Department official who now heads the private Council on Foreign Relations, said in a conference call with reporters last week, if Egypt's revolution were a baseball game, this would only be the third inning.
February 13, 2011 |
He arrived uncorrupted and full of promise. Mohamed ElBaradei returned to his native Egypt one year ago to lead a movement to reform the constitution. Crowds greeted the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the airport. The ruling National Democratic Party worried for the first time in decades that its power might be threatened. But even as Egyptians forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down Friday, the enthusiasm for ElBaradei had dwindled. The 68-year-old diplomat is viewed by many as a reluctant revolutionary, a man who inspired them but didn't lead them into the streets against the police state.
February 5, 2011 |
From the American perspective, the transition now underway in Egypt confirms John Kenneth Galbraith's famous appraisal of politics as a choice between "the disastrous and the unpalatable. " What the Obama administration must dread is not the prospect of Cairo repeating the disaster that was Tehran in 1979 but St. Petersburg in 1917, when one revolution ? its leadership democratic but hopelessly divided ? was followed within months by a second, its leaders murderously disciplined and malevolently focused.
February 2, 2011 |
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bent to a week of deadly anti-government unrest, announcing in a nationwide speech that he would not seek reelection this year but that he intended to stay in power "for the remaining months" of his fifth term. Mubarak's late-night address, hours after more than 200,000 protesters had streamed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square, marked a dramatic bid to maneuver through a nationwide revolt, growing international pressure and an economy that has slid into turmoil.
February 1, 2011 |
History is lurching in the Middle East, perhaps forward, possibly backward. Consequently, some see the newly minted revolution in Tunisia and the unfolding one in Egypt (and possibly Yemen, Jordan and elsewhere) as hopeful news, and others as worrisome. Color me hopeful. Obviously, things can ? and probably will ? get worse before they get better. In one or more countries, we could have a replay of the Iranian revolution, in which justified popular discontent with an authoritarian ruler was exploited by Islamists who ultimately imposed an even crueler brand of tyranny.