- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

Forever Scotland?

The U.S. consul general in Scotland left the stately capital of Edinburgh last week after telling Scots what she really hates about them.

After three years in Scotland, Cecile Shea told Scots that they are too critical of themselves and too unappreciative of their heritage.

“I hate the way you constantly beat yourselves up,” Miss Shea wrote in an article in the Sunday Herald that appeared on the day she left for her new assignment in Pakistan.

“Now I’m not saying you need to become bragging, arrogant Americans … but billions of people on this planet recognize that Scotland is one of the greatest countries anywhere, and that they owe their freedom, health, education and knowledge of quidditch to you. So give yourselves a break: Scotland is fantastic.”

(For the uninformed, “quidditch” is the game Harry Potter plays in the novels by English writer J.K. Rowling, who lives in Scotland.)

Miss Shea noted that the benefits from the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century led to great advances in medicine, education, economic theory and political philosophy, which directly influenced the creation of the United States. She asks readers to imagine what would have happened had Scotland never existed.

“No Scotland would mean less freedom in the world because there would have been no Scottish Enlightenment; less wealth in the world because of no Scottish entrepreneurism; less mobility, comfort and information in the world because of no Scottish inventors,” she wrote.

“The next time you feel like complaining, ask someone from Burma if he’d like to change places with you.”

After the “best three years of my life,” Miss Shea said she left Scotland as “a Scot at heart — and a very optimistic one.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Tomorrow

• Emir Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah of Kuwait, who meets President Bush on his first official visit since becoming ruler of the oil-rich Persian Gulf state in January.

• Falah al-Hajiri, Kuwait’s minister of trade and commerce, who addresses the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

• Joseph Wu, chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. He addresses the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Taiwan’s relationship with communist China.

Wednesday

• Mahnaz Afkhami, president of Iran’s Women’s Learning Partnership and former minister of state for women’s affairs; Lina Abou-Habib, executive director of Lebanon’s Collective for Research and Training on Development-Action; Asma Khader, a member of Jordan’s Permanent Arab Court and counsel for female victims of violence; and Amina Lemrini, an executive committee member of the Association of Democratic Women of Morocco. They participate in a forum on the status of women in Muslim societies at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

• Arthur Chaskalson, former chief justice of South Africa and current chairman of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights. He is accompanied by panel members Georges Abi-Saab of Egypt, Hina Jilani of Pakistan, Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand and Mary Robinson of Ireland. They address American University’s Washington College of Law.

Thursday

• Mohammed Khatami, former president of Iran, who speaks at the Washington National Cathedral.

• President Boris Tadic of Serbia, who meets Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

• Shashi Tharoor, India’s candidate for U.N. secretary-general, who addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Friday

• Salman Ahmad, leader of the Pakistani rock band Junoon, who joins diplomats and scholars to address young leaders from Muslim countries in an event sponsored by Americans for Informed Democracy, the Brookings Institution and George Washington University.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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