Suleiman Jawda
Egyptian Writer and Journalist

The World Needs a Man Like Anwar Al-Sadat

Wherever you look in this world in flames, you are struck by how desperately it needs a man like Anwar Sadat. The world does not need a man like Sadat because of his famously chic style, the trademark pipe in his mouth, and the dark skin tone that distinguished him, nor does it need him because he was a first-class orator with an exceptionally distinguished command of language...
While he deserves recognition for those things, they are not the reason we need him. We need him because he was a man who believed in peace like he believed in God and pursued it throughout the ten years he spent in the presidential palace. And as we remember, he succeeded.
In a famous televised interview, an American broadcaster asked Sadat what he would like said about him after he leaves this world. He did not hesitate or quickly close his eyes in search of a suitable answer as those answering questions on screen often do. He immediately told the interviewer what he wanted written on his tombstone: "He lived for his principles and died for peace.”
It was as though the gates of heaven had opened for him at that moment, receiving his prayers and wishes. Indeed, he died on the day of the October Victory celebrations, he sat still in full military uniform and celebrating with "his children,” as he liked to call them at every military parade.
German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was among his closest friends and greatest admirers. The Chancellor was particularly impressed with Sadat’s intellect, and in his later years, Schmidt often remarked that whenever he was following a problem anywhere in the world, he wished his friend Anwar Sadat were alive to deal with it.
When the fox of US politics, Henry Kissinger, wrote his book on global leadership, he chose to discuss six leaders he had known or read about. Sadat was one of them. Kissinger was evidently not looking to flatter the deceased; rather, he understood enough about minds and convictions to place Sadat where he rightfully belonged.
When Anwar Sadat waged the October War of 1973, he did not see it as an end in itself. Fighting a war is not an end but the means for achieving peace. This is exactly what happened in the post-war period, as Sadat and his soldiers emerged victorious.
Interestingly, Henry Kissinger was himself among the reasons that Sadat waged the war. Had the fox of American politics been even slightly responsive to the overtures Sadat had made before the conflict, the war would not have been instigated. Sadat would not have taken this route, and the casualties who fell would not have perished. In the period leading up to the war, Sadat had sent envoy after envoy to the United States to test the waters, urging the Americans to intervene and facilitate an agreement that would allow Egypt to recuperate the territory in Sinai that had been occupied. However, Uncle Sam did not pay him any mind.
On one occasion, an envoy of Sadat went to Kissinger and urged him to push for peace in his capacity as Secretary of State. Kissinger’s response convinced a reluctant Sadat to go to war. Kissinger told the envoy that he did not have time to waste on discussions with a defeated party, stressing that the vanquished do not have the right to speak like victors.
When the envoy returned with this response, Sadat kept it to himself and realized that he, too, would be wasting his time if he continued to negotiate with the Americans. He saw no alternative to changing the situation on the ground at any cost. Later on, Sadat may have thanked Kissinger to himself for alerting him to a matter he had not previously considered.
Sadat fought a 16 day-war in 1973, with hostilities beginning on the 6th of October and ending on the 22nd. Once he felt that he had achieved his objective, he ended the conflict and went back to pursuing peace, which was the only path he wanted to take. If he had been given a choice before the war, he would not have opted for it. He was compelled to take this route after he realized that neither Washington nor Tel Aviv were as committed to peace as he was.
Those who have read the memoirs of his wife, Jehan Sadat, know that she pleaded with him to pardon acquaintances of hers whom he had decided to imprison two weeks before he passed away. These individuals opposed the painstakingly negotiated peace treaty with Israel, mocking and ridiculing it. Sadat knew that the Israelis could exploit such opposition, as they were looking for any excuse to back out of the agreement and free themselves of its commitments. Israeli withdrawal from the agreement would have meant squandering this rare opportunity for peace, and he was not willing to risk or squander it.
The date on which the peace agreement stipulated that Israel would give Egypt the remainder of Sinai back, April 25, 1982, had been six months away, and Sadat saw nothing but that day. Thus, he told his wife that everyone whom he had chosen to imprison two weeks before his passing- not only those she was advocating for- would be freed in the evening on April 25th. His plans show that imprisonment, like war, was not an end in itself but a means to an end.