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ElBaradei-metric Pressure

06.04.2007 06:08 | DISPATCHES

It's never a good sign when a Nobel laureate wigs out.

"The idea that there's a military solution is absolutely bonkers."

-- January 2007 

"I have no brief other than to make sure we don't go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give additional argument to new crazies who say 'let's go and bomb Iran'."

-- June 2007

These are two recent comments by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who, along with the IAEA, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. This is a guy used to pressure. As he said about his job in an interview: "First of all, you learn to manage stress. You learn to live with stress. I mean, stress is there all the time. There's no question about it. It's in the morning. It's at night. It's at 3:00 in the morning."


Even more than Iran's drive to nuclear energy as a precursor to nuclear weapons, the source of ElBaradei's stress has been the Bush administration's bellicose response. But these days, the consensus is that the forces of darkness -- Cheney and his guys, Eliot Abrams and Stephen Hadley -- are giving way to, well, not the forces of light exactly, but those of shades of gray: Secretaries of State and Defense, Gates and Rice.


According to the Newsweek article cited below, Rice talks twice a day to the president. Since his wife seems alienated from him, he may be especially vulnerable to Rice, who, unlike, say, Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir, or even Hillary Clinton, has never felt the need to downplay her femininity in the pursuit of power. Of course, there are those who would hold that Bush's closeness to Rice is a factor in his deteriorating relationship with his wife. Also, it's possible that, watching his power wane, a desperate Cheney has begun to lean on Bush, who's famous for rebelling against paternal authority.


In an apparent attempt to keep Cheney from becoming even more surly than usual, Rice said, "The vice president has never been somebody who tries to [undermine others] on the sidelines, behind the scenes. He really doesn't," she said.


File that under the he-doth-protest-too-much department. "In fact," she continues, "we have a kind of friendly banter about it, in which I'll tease him about the image that he doesn't like diplomacy." We're sure that, underneath it all, Cheney's just a teddy bear.


It's probably wiser to think of him as a real bear, which, like most animals, is at its most vicious when wounded. Worse, if Cheney's further sidelined, don't be surprised if, like slashers in the movies, he bounces back from his apparent killing deadlier than ever. His way of seeking revenge on those who marginalized him may well be to direct his wrath at Iran.


As for Rice, after bearing approximately 21.4 percent of the blame for allowing 9/11 to happen by ignoring intelligence reports, she needs to prevent an attack on Iran, especially in light of her ineffective efforts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine, as a first step in her redemption.


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