Amr Moussa and Muhammed ElBaradei may become the principal candidates for the Presidency of Egypt. I hope they will remember the precedent of peace and integrity that had been established by their former great leader. And I'm not talking about Hosni Mubarak.
Anwar el-Sadat, President of Egypt from 1971 to 1981, was a military man who had arisen from humble origins. His steadfast leadership was tempered by a rare humility that is not found commonly in the annals of human history and diplomacy. Mr. Sadat's evenly-tempered command of the Egyptian military led ultimately to an effective peace with Israel, and an appreciation for freedom that now contributes mightily to a budding legacy of responsible government.
Anwar Sadat was the man whose cautious fortitude took the Sinai back from the Israelis.
Hosni Mubarak was his air force commander and later vice-president. History seems to indicate that Mr. Mubarak's service to the Egyptian people was more favorably contributed in those two roles than as President after Sadat was assassinated.
In the 1973 war with Israel, Anwar Sadat's army and air force secured that swathe of dry Sinai land and put it back in the hands of the Egyptian people where it belongs. And yet Mr. Sadat's integrity and his deep desire for reconciliation among men ultimately produced a peace arrangement with Israel that is worth maintaining.
His autobiography, In Search of Identity, was published by Harper & Row in 1977. I'm hoping that Mr. Moussa, Mr. ElBaradei, and any other Egyptians whose heart is to lead that ancient nation will cherish these words of wisdom from their martyred President. Anwar Sadat wrote:
"In conclusion I must put on record that the Egyptian people differ from many other peoples, even within the Arab world. We have recovered our pride and self-confidence after the October 1973 battle, just as our armed forces did. We are no longer motivated by "complexes"--whether defeatist "inferiority" ones or those born out of suspicion and hate. And this is why the opposing sides met soon after the battle dust had settled to talk matters over. We did so when the first and second forces disengagement agreements were concluded, and again when I met Mrs. Meir in Israel. With the fighting over, we harbored nothing but respect for one another. Our civilized people know this; it is what induced 5 million citizens to come out to greet me on my return, and the armed forces to salute me in an impressive and quite unprecedented manner.
"Our cultural depths are there; our cultural roots are alive, as vigourous as ever after more than 7000 years. Those who are surprised by what we do cannot simply understand this fact. They cannot grasp the real nature of a people who are working for a modern civilization comparable to the one they erected thousands of years ago in freedom and peace."
During the most productive part of his lifetime, the President who had come from the village of Mit Abul-Kum lived near Cairo on Pyramid Road. I hope the people of Egypt will cherish the legacy of peace, integrity and strength that Anwar Sadat excavated from that memorialized base of operations.
Don't hold it against me that I, an American, suggest this from a distant perspective in a land far away from you. But there's nothing I can do about that. I am a citizen of the world, just as you are, and we need to coexist here on earth so that all hell does not break loose again, if that is possible.