Nicholas Burns served in the Bush administration’s Department of State, rising to Undersecretary of State during Secretary of State Condolezza Rice’s tenure. On Fox today, Shep Smith interviewed Burns about the unrest in Egypt, and asked him for his sense of Mohamed ElBaradei. Burns actually lauds ElBaradei as “bright,” “very intelligent,” “serious,” and “forward thinking,” adding that he could become the “face of the opposition” in Egypt.
ElBaradei’s tenure at the IAEA, in which he thwarted US policy against Iran, went unmentioned. If Burns is as good as we can get from the US diplomatic corps, well, God help us. There seems to be an establishment consensus that ElBaradei is a viable alternative to Mubarak. That’s only true if you don’t mind the Muslim Brotherhood with which ElBaradei is allied taking over the Arab world’s most important country, controlling the Suez Canal, and going eyeball to eyeball with the Israelis.
That is the problem with the Islamic world as for leaders there is often so little choice ~ with ElBaradei as a late entry ~ the MB is in effect the main opposition. I think it is right to feel a sense of releif that he might be running the country ~ but then there is this looming, nagging kind of entanglement when you think about how he might implemented reforms especially allied with the Muslim Brohammadians ~ whose election campaign slogan was 'Islam is the answer'. Which can only mean stricter hasher Islamic rule, as the flying carpet solution to all Egypt's problems. But what can be said positively about ElBaradei ~ significantly ~ is that he allows his daughter to choose her own lifestyle and she has chosen freedom ~ possibly from Islam. You wish that he could put in place a foundation for religious freedoms in Egypt ~ ex. get the religion off the identity card, and end forcible conversions and imprisonment for apostasy and so on ~ but then there is the Al-Azhar Mosque ~ who wield a lot of power ~ who recently informed the Copts of their dhimmi status under 'Islamic rule'. The best hope for a modern, free and democratic Egypt is ElBaradei ~ but given the powers that be ~ its unlikely that we will get all we want.