The Corner

Egypt: The Diplomatic Response

How to respond to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic interests in the Muslim world? One especially appropriate tool we have at hand involves the State Department itself: the issuance of visas. If the Egyptians cannot bring themselves to behave like civilized human beings, then there is no reason to extend to them the benefits of international norms that they have no intention of respecting. It would therefore be appropriate for the United States to revoke all such visas to Egyptian nationals as are currently operative (giving those Egyptians in the United States some reasonable period of time, say 30 days, to remove themselves) and to cease issuing new visas to Egyptians for some appropriate period of time, say ten years. No tourist visas, no work visas, no student visas.

To my mind, the best thing about using visas as a sanction tool is that doing so hits the ruling elites in a very sensitive area. They want to send their children to Stanford, attend conferences at Harvard, do business in Houston, and send their mistresses shopping on Fifth Avenue, just like members of any other ruling elite in the world. We should categorically cut them off. Let Egypt’s best and brightest spend their days in their dreary and backward homeland; perhaps that would  provide them with an appropriate incentive for improving the place.

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