Alex Massie

VORP over arabists? Not so much. Or, more proof that games played and RBIs are junk stats.

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Words just about fail me.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the latest Great Moment in Public Diplomacy:

"Sports is a universal language... Everybody knows that if you can play baseball like Cal Ripken then you're going to... have the world at your feet... So he's going to go out and I'll bet he'll find people who want to be Cal Ripken in Pakistan and people who want to be Cal Ripken in Guatemala and people who want to be Cal Ripken in Europe... That's the wonderful thing about sports: it really transcends culture and it transcends identity."

It's obvious, isn't it, that you would send a retired baseball star to cricket-playing muslim countries to preach the merits of blue collar American-ness and hard work and being an "Iron Man" and all the rest of it. The wonder is that Karen Hughes didn't dream up this masterful idea sooner.

Equally tellingly, you'll notice that Dr Rice doesn't mention the one country where Mr Ripken might conceivably (and even then it's a stretch) do some good for the Yankee image. That would, of course, be Venezuela - the one South American country that considers baseball, not soccer, its national sport. But then again, why would you want to engage with the Axis of Evil's Junior Varsity skipper?

Belgravia Dispatch

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalforeign policy