Tuesday, October 21, 2008

undiplomatic Columbia

So yesterday I went to see Russian Amb. Vitaly I. Churkin give a talk at Columbia University. Or, rather, it should have been a talk, but actually wound up being more of a shouting match. I don't think I've ever seen a foreign dignitary get rougher treatment. Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was called a "petty dictator" by the President of the University, was more welll-received. Most of the questions Churkin took were nothing of the sort, but rather long-winded and furious statements condemning Russian aggression. On the whole, Churkin handled himself quite well, despite making some dubious statements on, say, the civilian dead in South Ossetia. All in all, people need to understand that the longer your question is, the less credibility you have. People also need to understand that this is an ambassador. Harranguing him does no good and only sours relations. Either treat your guest with respect, or don't invite him.

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