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14
JANUARY 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
The Party’s Over
On Nov. 18, eccentric American rock
star Andrew W.K. announced on his
personal Web site that “Te U.S. Dep
art-
ment of State, in partnership with the
U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, has
invited Andrew to visit the Middle East to
promote partying and positive power.”
Te notice continued: “Andrew will
begin his journey sometime in December
2012 and will visit elementary schools,
the University of Bahrain, music venues,
and more, all while promoting partying
and world peace.”
As
Washington Post
blogger Max
Fisher reported on Nov. 26, the idea
seemed ify from the start. Bahrain
remains engulfed in a second tense
year of turmoil, with activists from the
country’s majority Shia population pro-
testing the Sunni monarchy, while W.K.
is best known for
outlandish behavior
and songs about partying and related
activities.
As Fisher puts it, “It was not an obvi-
ous match, to say the least, and Middle
East-watchers greeted it with deep skep-
ticism, even as music blogs
trumpeted
the news.”
Sure enough, just a week later State
rescinded the invitation, amid conficting
reports of the sequence of events. Asked
about the incident at the Nov. 26 press
briefng, State Department spokespers
on
Victoria Nuland responded: “So we had
a Bahraini entity that approached the
embassy about co-sponsoring a visit by
this guy, who I take it is pretty popu-
lar there in Bahrain. Tat was initially
approved, and then when more senior
management at the embassy took a look
at this, the conclusion was that this was
not an appropriate use of U.S. govern-
ment funds.”
Fisher observes that W.K. seems to
be taking the news rather hard, post-
ing a dejected comment on his site and
tweeting, “I’m just blown away. After a
year of planning, the U.S. State Dept. just
canceled my Middle East trip because
I’m too party” (sic).
Perhaps, to paraphrase the Bard:
“Part(y)ing is such sweet sorrow.”
n
Steven Alan Honley, Editor