08 June, 2008

Embassy Row

Which of these is not like the others?

Pakistan
Niger
United Arab Emirates
Chad
Libya
Malaysia
The Philippines
The Republic of Togo
Argentina
Malawi
Liberia
Bosnia
Congo

If you are thinking like I am thinking, your answer is the United Arab Emirates. And the reason is it is far wealthier than the rest (to be sure) with far less internal political and governmental dysfunction (my guess).

What do all of these countries have in common? They are the countries that make the list of countries with vacant dilapidated residences on Washington's Embassy row.

Because the properties are treated as foreign soil the city of Washington cannot use penalize the countries for trashing the neighborhood.

The tool the city has a last result -- after asking politely -- is to publically shame the countries by making the names public. I'm not even sure it's done that: it seems the Washington Post has come up with its own list.

I know enough about UAE culture to know that public shaming is taken as a personal affront, even when you bring it on yourself.

The Washington Post story is here on page A01 of the Sunday paper; with an interactive graphic here.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi - yes, it is a shame some folk have to be named and shamed for behaving badly in other people's countries. So, in the spirit of the post I would the American embassy to start paying the quite large sums it owes the City of London in wilfully unpaid Congestion Charge fees?

Opps silly me, I forgot, Cousin Yank is above the law.

John B. Chilton said...

I agree with you there anonymous, r.e. US and London congestion charges. Diplomats shouldn't expect to avoid congestion charges anymore than they should expect to ride the tube for free -- or pay for any other good. The US is arguing that diplomatic missions are immune from tazation and that congestion charges are a tax -- something that parallels what many in these pages say about tolls on the SZR. I happen to disagree.

In Culturals of Corruption (PDF) economists Fisman and Miquel look at the use of diplomatic immunity to avoid paying parking fines in NYC. Among other things, they find "diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations." The UAE does quite well. Kuwait tops the list of worst offenders by a fantastic amount. Very curious given they'd been saved from Saddam by the US.

Anonymous said...

Well, Anon, when UK (and other)diplomats start paying their parking and speeding fines all over DC and New York, maybe US dips will pay congestion fees.

Re the UAE Embassy -- I['m not surprised. My local landlord doesn't maintain his property any better.

the real nick said...

Which is not like the others? I would have thought Argentina.

The only country on the list that's any good at football.

Anonymous said...

Anonymouses and JB - very interesting but raises the point that their should be perhaps some common courtesies such as paying your local taxes and / fines as well as maintaining your buildings to a decent standard.

It really isn't hard to behave properly in other people's countries.

Anonymous said...

UAE sold their Embassy Row property in 2004. It must have taken more than three or four years to write the Washington Post article as the property has been occupied by the Georgian Embassy since February 2007.

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