Life as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate — especially if you’re not resting on your laurels — is not as awash in dignity and respect as you might think. Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (1991) has spent 10 of the last 17 years under house arrest. Jimmy Carter’s (2002) name has been dragged through the mud for expressing sympathy for the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei (2005), the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has been the object of an ongoing campaign by the administration to strip him of his credibility. Every chance it gets, it brushes aside the passing grades the IAEA has given Iran’s nuclear program and portrays ElBaradei as not only too lenient, but a loose cannon.
Worse, the Washington Post has seen fit to carry the administration’s water. In a recent editorial, it wrote: “Rather than carry out the policy of the Security Council or the IAEA board, for which he nominally works, Mr. ElBaradei behaves as if he were independent of them, free to ignore their decisions and to use his agency to thwart their leading members — above all the United States.”
Due to his failure to deliver Iran an ultimatum — never mind that it’s unwarranted — and “represent anyone other than himself,” “the options of the Bush administration. . . may be greatly attenuated.” (That’s “weakened” to us rabble.)
In other words, EB, if Bush & Co. launch another witless war, the Post will lay the blame at your feet.
As if that weren’t insulting enough, the editorial was titled “Rogue Regulator.” Considering the term “rogue” is more often applied to states that have acquired nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, that’s clearly a low blow by the Post.
Perhaps the New York Times would be more sympathetic to ElBaradei’s alarm at the administration’s eagerness to attack Iran. An editorial Thursday got off to a promising start.
“Like Mohamed ElBaradei, we want to make sure what he calls the ‘crazies’ don’t start a war with Iran.” By crazies he meant the unholy alliance of Cheney and the Neocons. The editorial continues by claiming it fears that ElBaradei’s “do-it-yourself diplomacy is playing right into the crazies’ hands — in Washington and Tehran.”
Reading the Post editorial, one can’t help wondering if what really concerns it is that ElBaradei could thwart the administration’s war plans. The Times, however, is apprehensive that those plans might succeed, especially if the IAEA’s el jefe doesn’t adopt different tactics.
“According to the so-called work plan agreed to by Mr. ElBaradei, Iran will address one set of questions at a time, and move on to the next set only after his inspectors have closed the file on the previous set. . . . The further along the Iranians get, the greater our fear that President Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney, will decide that one more war isn’t going to do their reputation much harm.”
Iran, it urged, should suspend enrichment and the administration should tread the diplomacy track. “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained last week that the I.A.E.A. shouldn’t be in the business of diplomacy,” the editorial continued. “Yes, that’s her job. And she’s not done nearly enough. . .”
Sure, Rice is seeking to give her legacy a makeover from dupe of the Neocons to stateswoman. But, even with Secretary of Defense Gates’s support, she still lacks the wherewithal to stare down Cheney. Putting all your peace eggs in Rice’s basket is as delusional as believing in the Easter Bunny.
“Some critics,” the Times writes, “charge that the Nobel Prize has gone to Mr. ElBaradei’s head and that. . . . he believes he’s the only one who can stop what he fears is an imminent war.”
Is that grandiosity — or a realistic assessment? As became abundantly clear when Congress passed the Kyl-Lieberman bill, no government figure has seen fit to make a mission of halting the march to war in its tracks.
But nature abhors a vacuum and who better to fill the void than ElBaradei? The Post and the Times seem to think, sure, he’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but he’s taking the “peace” part way too seriously.