Mohamed ElBaradei Demonization Watch: Anne Bayefsky Links ElBaradei to Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

File:Mohamed ElBaradei.jpg

Regarding American right-wing paranoia over the street protesters in Cairo (Glenn Beck calls them “rioters”), Jonathan Chait of the New Republic nails it:

[W]hat’s fascinating is the emergence [among the right] of a strain of paranoid anti-Islamism that lumps together Iran, Mohammed ElBaradei, and the Obama administration.

And Chait offers Hudson Institute fellow Anne Bayefsky as a nice example. Here she is writing for Fox News:

In the name of democratic reform, Mohammed El Baradei is doing his best to appear as the annointed one to succeed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, should the government fall. In reality, El Baradei has more in common with Iranian demagogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than anything remotely resembling democracy.

So here’s the narrative the nihilistic and Herderian American right is driving on Egypt:

  • drip with cynicism toward a genuinely secular democratic movement leader (Mohamed ElBaradei);
  • engage in broad brush stereotypes of Muslims, making Egypt out to be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood;
  • link ElBaradei to our most grievous enemy (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad);
  • back a dictator against legitimate popular complaint; and
  • link President Obama to the “rioters.”

To return to reality, here’s a brief bit from a New York Times report this weekend that describes the actual politics on the ground in Egypt:

Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, a Muslim cleric known as Abu Omar, said that many conservative Muslims would not support a secular politician like Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize winner and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “ElBaradei and the others, they have no connection to religion. If Hosni Mubarak goes, they will replace him with someone else like him,” said Abu Omar, . . .

So religious conservatives in Egypt and religious conservatives in America dislike and distrust the secular, highly educated, and internationally travelled Nobel Prize winner, Mohamed ElBaradei.

That’s interesting, isn’t it?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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14 Responses to Mohamed ElBaradei Demonization Watch: Anne Bayefsky Links ElBaradei to Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

  1. TomH says:

    The term “Herderian” might apply to Pat Buchanan, but hardly to Allen West, Bill Kristol, William Owens, Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele, Joseph Farah, Ramesh Ponnuru, Thomas Sowell, Darryl Issa, Mark Steyn, Star Parker, Michelle Malkin, Tim Scott, or Mark Levin. Your usage of this term is simply far-left demagoguery. Your persistence in the ridiculous application of this term to the American right undermines your credibility when it comes to politics.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Actually, I’m thinking of Bill Kristol when I use the term Herderian. Kristol self-consciously drives Herderian memes whenever it suits him (as do some of the others on your list). Kristol runs his intellectual roots through Strauss, who was a Herderian. Kristol’s father does as well. I do agree with you, however, that the right also has a libertarian internationalist wing and that the word does not properly cover the whole of the right wing. I’m sympathetic with the libertarian wing of the conservative movement, but I think it’s a small part of what is driving right-wingerism in the United States.


  3. TomH says:

    Herder was a Jeffersonian liberal and an isolationist.

    Strauss had fascist impulses from his university education, though they moderated after his immigration to the U.S.

    The Tea Party holds to the traditional Jeffersonian ideals of limited govt. The neo-con movement is losing traction in conservative politics as regards domestic issues. Thompson is right in his analysis of neo-conservatism.

    Elbaradei is an apologist for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

    The Egyptian Brotherhood is virulently anti-Israel. “However, the group, known for its inflammatory anti-Israel rhetoric, is likely to be part of a broad-based national unity government.”

    Virtually all Egyptians dislike Israel. “That said, with or without the Brotherhood, a democratic government will reflect popular preferences, and it happens to be the case that most Egyptians, secular and Islamist alike, share a rather pronounced dislike of Israel.” loc cit

    The Egyptian Brotherhood is islamist.

    Virtually all Israel, including its leftist and rightist fringes, is desperately fearful of a change in govt. in Egypt.

    The American right may be hyperbolic, but it would be foolish to ignore the influence of the Brotherhood.

    • santitafarella says:


      Your links appear interesting, and I’ll have a look at them this week. With regard to your Stanford link to Herder, I would note that Herder wrote his nationalist treatise, “Another Philosophy of History,” in 1774—almost 20 years prior to the letters that mark him as a “rights of man” sympathizer. It was Herder’s theorizing in “Another Philosophy of History” that nationalists in subsequent generations latched onto.

      Note the language in the Stanford article: ” . . . the mature Herder is a liberal . . .”—and it was the mature Herder that subsequent nationalists appear to have ignored.

      This is why I think the term Herderian is not misleading. Zeev Sternhell uses it in his book on the Anti-Enlightenment. But I don’t know anyone else who does.


  4. concerned christian says:

    I spent most of the last ten days following the events in Egypt and I can tell you that the only reliable conclusion is that no one really understand what’s going on there and determine with certainty who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. The demonstrations were started by the youth movement including Khaled Said’s facebook members, but the role and participation of Muslim brotherhood are not fully understood. The position of ElBaradei is murky and he may ultimately ends up being a Muslim Brotherhood ally. So all I can say with certainty is that every observer of these events, including Fox News, BBC, CNN, ABC, and the infamous Aljazeera, is right on some conclusions and wrong in other conclusions. So you need to hear all the voices and the future will tell us who was the closest to the truth.

    • santitafarella says:


      Your cautions are well taken. Is the Muslim Brotherhood closer to a 20% popular sympathy phenomenon or a 60% popular sympathy phenomenon? I suppose that nobody really knows, and Egypt’s (and the world’s) direction may turn on it.

      I think you’re probably wrong about ElBaradei. He’ll make alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood (as any politician in Egypt will have to). But this just means that conservative Islam will always be part of a coalition in Egyptian politics (as the religious right in this country is). ElBaradei’s fate is a good guage of what kind of revolution Egypt’s will evolve into.

  5. concerned christian says:

    I was just listening to a major Egyptian broadcast discussing the future of the ruling party and one of the issues they discuss is what will happen if Egypt have a free election and each one on the panel who represents one of the opposition parties predicted how many seats the Muslim brotherhood will win and their predictions were not far from yours, namely anywhere from 25 to 75%
    As for ElBaradei all I said was “The position of ElBaradei is murky and he may ultimately ends up being a Muslim Brotherhood ally.” Which in a way all I can honestly say about him given the limited information we have about his political and religious background.
    BTW remember Nawal El Saadawi whom we talked about in this thread
    I heard on TV that she was in Al Tahrir Square with the youth protesters, a great feat given the fact the she is only! 80 years old.

    • santitafarella says:


      I bought Nawal’s book—it’s great to hear that she is participating in the protest—that’s a very good sign. If she feels solidarity in the movement, it seems that the movement cannot be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood (or she probably wouldn’t participate).

      As for ElBaradei, I’m sorry if I misread you. I thought you were implying that he is a closeted member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which I’m reasonably certain is false. I think that if he says anything nice in public about that group, it is with an eye to working with it as a minority faction within a reconstituted government. He doesn’t want to alienate religious conservative voters (as a politician doesn’t want to do this in the United States).


  6. If you are looking for geopolitical analysis of events like Egypt, the BEST information is stratfor. I have been a member since they started. Unbiased, clear, analytical and expert details on the politics and relevance of world events. They not only offer detailed analysis with historical, religious and political context, they often offer predicted outcomes. Their yearly analysis is like having Nostradamus as an advisor. I am not affiliated with then in any way, other than being a HUGE fan. Particularly in light of the ludicrously biased news networks in the USA – CNN and Fox are laughable. Stratfor is where I get the vast majority of my news and analysis.

    They have published over dozens of pieces on Egypt, the MB, and the military since the Egyptian crisis began. What is most meaningful, that is often missed, is that the Egyptian military places the Egyptian leader. They have been supporting the current populist protests due to their dislike of the secession plan Mubarak has desired, of placing his son in office. This would strip the military of their ability to place the leaders. That is why they have not only allowed, but encouraged the populist agenda while working backroom deals to deal with the new government that they will place when Mubarak leaves. It is unlikely, at best, that they will allow Egypt to become a true democracy and really have elected leaders.

  7. TomH says:

    Looks like the Egyptian Brotherhood is testing the waters for acceptance of islamism:


    I also like stratfor.

    I really liked the Fox panel discussions by physicians about Obamacare as well. Stratfor won’t give you those. I don’t care for the ideological garbage that you sometimes see on Fox, but their content isn’t exclusively or even mostly ideological.

  8. concerned christian says:

    One more twist in the Egyptian uprising. In addition to two Nobel Prize laureates, (four horses and a Camel, sorry I have to say that) now we find that Wael Ghonim, the man in charge of Google in the Middle East, was behind the web page Khaled Said which played a major part in the uprising. Definitely Egypt is the land of intrigue!

    • santitafarella says:

      Thanks for sharing that. The situation is definitely complicated and not easily reduced to familiar categories.


      • concerned christian says:

        As an Egyptian I am happy to see the corrupt regime in Egypt gone. Now it’s time for the hard work of figuring out what kind of Egypt we will have in the future; secular or Islamic.

      • santitafarella says:


        Well, congratulations are certainly in order. Like you, I’m hoping this revolution will evolve in liberal ways—with independent courts, religious freedom, etc—and away from Islamic fundamentalism.


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