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A Semi-defense Of Those Embassy Parties

While I certainly appreciate the sentiment that there should be no hot dogs for Iranian regime skullcrackers, I wonder if it's really such a terrible thing that the Obama administration hasn't disinvited Iranian diplomats from American embassies' Fourth of July parties. As today's NYT points out, one of the big downsides of not having an embassy in Tehran is that it hinders our intelligence gathering:

“The way the U.S. collects information about countries, having an embassy is absolutely critical,” said Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst. “You need political staff that can go out on the street and talk to people, pick up the gossip.”

Since we're obviously not about to open up an embassy in Tehran any time soon, it would seem that one way to pick up gossip from Iran is to invite Iranian dips to our embassies outside the country--which may have been as much the motivation behind Obama stemming the invite as "diplomatic engagement." My guess is no Iranian diplomats are going to attend this year's Fourth of July festivities--it seems like the sort of thing that might get them in some trouble with the bosses back home right now--but if they did, who knows, maybe some valuable information could be gleaned from them. It sounds like we could use some.

--Jason Zengerle