A post by Josh Rogin at The Cable caught my attention yesterday.
It seems like two State Department political appointees were recently living up the good life in state sponsor of terrorism Syria – and they wanted you and me to know all about it because they made generous use of social media throughout the trip.
Special Advisor on Innovation Alec J. Ross and Policy Planning Staffer Jared Cohen had a busy schedule. They participated in a cake eating contest. We learned about the greatest ‘frappacino’ ever. Tours of famous places. And, of course, a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Granted, Syria sanctions are not as robust as the Cuba program – eh, none of them really are as tough as the Cuban sanctions regime – but have these two gents ever heard of public diplomacy? Anyhow if traveling on the U.S. taxpayer dime, folks should be somewhat sensitive to how you project the U.S. image.
But all good fun comes to an end. Seems like Mr. Ross used an ATM machine, requested 5000 Syrian pounds (about 105 dollars) and was only given 500 pounds (about $10 dollars). For their sake, let’s hope the ATM was not operated by the Commercial Bank of Syria or any other sanctioned entity.
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.