The Corner

Diplomatic Baghdad

Even neocon warhawks are wont to roll their eyes when chaps start listing all the good news from Iraq that never gets reported: I remember Rich Lowry scoffing at one such recitation on an NR panel last year. So Chris Muir’s Memorial Day cartoon will leave many cold. Nonetheless, one statistic caught my eye: 47 nations now have embassies in Iraq.

That’s a high number. America has diplomatic representation pretty much everywhere, but even wealthy nations usually skimp. My Canadian passport advises me to contact the nearest British consular representative if I’m in one of the many parts of the world where Ottawa feels it’s not worthwhile showing the flag. EU members often share embassies in distant parts. Embassies are expensive to maintain, especially in war zones, where you’re often an easy target.

So 47 embassies is impressive, especially when you consider over two-thirds are non-Arab. The Romanians, for example, maintain diplomatic missions in about a third of the world’s countries. They don’t bother with New Zealand, which is left to their Third Secretary in Australia to handle. Yet they have a mission in Baghdad, although there are undoubtedly fewer Romanians in Iraq than in NZ.

Iraq itself is now operating 60 embassies around the world versus New Zealand’s 40. I hasten to add I’m not picking on the Kiwis, just looking for appropriate mid-rank stable nations with which to compare the alleged quagmire. The fact is that Iraq is not just the nightly plume of smoke on the evening news. It’s got a relatively thriving economy, a commercial sector and a diplomatic presence that reflects that.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.