Jeffrey LewisElBaradei to get Third Term

He gets to keep the sweet view.

Over the weekend, Dafna Linzer at the Washington Post reported that “all 15 countries approached by U.S. diplomats—including Britain, Canada and Australia—refused to support” Washington’s efforts to deny Mohamad ElBaradei a third as IAEA Director General.

“Everyone turned us down, even the Brits,” one U.S. policymaker plaintively told The Post. Apparently, wiretaps and subtle racism just don’t go as far as they did when Nixon was president.

A few weeks ago, perhaps glowing with nostalgia toward the White House plumbers, the Wall Street Journal predicted the campaign to oust ElBaradei was going swimmingly. Admitting “this is tricky diplomatic business,” the WSJ nevertheless reported that “sources tell us the U.S. has identified a strong candidate who wants the job. In any event, it has numerous allies on the IAEA board who share its views and are willing to send Mr. ElBaradei into retirement.”

No word on the identity of the strong candidate, although Arms Control Today cited “diplomatic sources” suggesting (as of mid-December) that Japanese Ambassador the IAEA Yukio Takusu is still one potential last-minute alternative. The Post, as an astute reader of an earlier version of this post observed, suggested the forthcoming candidate was an Argentine.

Frankly, the Bush Administration appears to have run a cattle call for ElBaradei’s job. In addition to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who declined to run, Washington reportedly considered several possible candidates, including Brazilian disarmament expert Sergio Duarte, two South Korean officials and two Japanese diplomats.

Maybe Bush should have asked that South Korean who kept running against ElBaradei in 1997 even after Seoul asked him to stop. Maybe they did …