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‘Hot Dog’ Diplomacy, Reconsidered

In comments on a previous post, my friend M. Leblanc thinks my opposition to “hot dog” diplomacy is misguided:

It’s like this: the local embassy (in my case, in Cairo) sets up a 4th of July celebration. There is American food (hot dogs, sodas, etc) provided for free to all who are invited, which includes any American citizen (you show your passport to get in) and invited guests, which are some business owners that do business with the embassy, and other diplomats from other countries’ embassies. Pretty much all of them. At least where I grew up, there was a certain amount of collegiality among diplomats from various embassies–they shared more with each other than they did with the local population (living away from home, beholden to a government far away, trying to raise kids in a foreign country and often sending their kids to the same schools).

For them to now rescind such invitations, to, basically, a cook-out, would be pretty ridiculous and pointlessly belligerent.

“Pointlessly belligerent” describes the Iranian regime right now, but I can see what she means. There’s no point in acting out of pique — these are diplomats, not bloggers. But still, particularly when the crackdown appears to be intensifying, telling Iranian diplomats they’re not going to break bread with ours while this goes on is a fairly cost-free way of registering opprobrium. It would be sickening to see U.S. diplomats host their Iranian counterparts for a party while the regime they work for is doing something that the world rightly rejects. Rescinding the invites appears to be a non-issue; stopping their proliferation is appropriate. There’ll be time enough for substantive diplomacy after the Iranian crisis comes to a conclusion.

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