The State Department last week sent a message to every US Embassy and consulate around the world, notifying them that “they may invite representatives from the government of Iran” to their July 4th parties.
According to the NYTimes:
Administration officials characterized the move as another in a series of American overtures to Iran. The United States has not had relations with Iran since the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by protesters in 1979; the country’s diplomats have not been formally invited to American events since then.
Humorous though it may be, this is actually kind of a big deal. When I first set foot in the Embassy in Muscat, the first thing they told me was that I was not to speak to Iranian diplomats under any circumstances. This has been a longstanding policy for the US–one that Obama should overturn now.
Which is why NIAC has long advocated for the State Department to drop its prohibition on low-level diplomatic contact with Iranian officials–the so-called Dobbins Plan–and this latest July 4th development sets up a broader opening very nicely.
According to State Department officials that I spoke with last week, they are still considering dropping the ban officially, but have yet to make a final decision. The July 4th invitation, according to one administration official, “is another way of saying we are not putting barriers in the way of communicating” with the Iranians. “It is another way of signaling that there is an opportunity that should not be wasted.”
Having been to a good number of July 4th barbecues in my lifetime, including one at an Embassy overseas, I can confidently say that there is no better way to introduce our new Iranian colleagues to real American life than a poolside barbecue and fireworks display on the Fourth. (Probably want to leave the beer and “Hebrew National” dogs out of sight, though…just a thought)…