Commentary Magazine


Ambassador Bows Before Dictator’s Statue

Conservatives castigated President Obama for bowing before the Saudi king and to the Japanese emperor. To be fair, President George W. Bush also bowed to the Saudi king; when it comes to Saudi Arabia, sycophancy is too often bipartisan. Nevertheless, it should be covered in Diplomacy 101 that American officials should not bow down before foreign leaders, let alone their statues.

Alas, that message seems not to have been transmitted to Richard Morningstar, the new U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan. Azeri Report has released a photograph of Morningstar, a long-time diplomat, bowing before a statue of Heydar Aliyev, who ruled Azerbaijan from shortly after its independence until his death in 2003.

Azerbaijan is a trusted U.S. ally in a rough neighborhood, but such obsequiousness is never appropriate. Let us hope that any new secretary of state will inculcate U.S. diplomats from a culture that cultivates such behavior.