U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul and his wife, Donna Norton made news last week when they tore up the floor of Spaso House in Moscow with their polka steps.
Ambassador and Mrs. McFaul at Spaso House
Photo from US Embassy Moscow/FB
But before Ambassador McFaul, we had our original dancing ambassador in the Philippines, Kristie Kenney. Not to be confused with Raymond Bonner’s “Waltzing With a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy” because KK’s tenure in the Philippines occurred during the post-Marcos Era.
Here is Ambassador Kenney, then US Ambassador to the Philippines in the Shall We Dance Christmas Episode from December 2009:
Of course, the Philippines with its fondness for TV variety shows was ga-ga over Ambassador Kenney. One show even had a Double K (Kristie Kenney) dance step. And here she is doing the papaya dance with Edu Manzano, Filipino-American actor and politician. A hard act to follow. It would not be a surprising if her successor at the US Embassy in Manila is forced to issue a secret plea not to put on his dancing shoes.
And from the US Embassy Panama, we have Ambassador Phylis Powers dancing the passa passa (Jan 22, 2011):
From the US Embassy in Laos, we have Ambassador Karen Stewart who danced the traditional “Lam Vong” at the Lao-American Heritage Foundation performance at the Lao National Cultural Hall.
On Saturday, July 16, 2011, I went to the Lao-American Heritage Foundation performance at the Lao National Cultural Hall. It was a wonderful evening, and all of the performers were very talented. I even had the chance to take the stage and lead a traditional “Lam Vong” dance. It was quite an honor!
(Photo from Ambassador Stewart's blog)
From the US Embassy in Bangladesh, we have these two gentlemen. What are you doing in the back, ahhh, SCA/AS Robert Blake … you should be dancing yeah, Ambassador Dan Mozena!
On February 16, 2012, Assistant Secretary of State for South & Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake visited Grameen borrowers’ group meeting, borrower’s homes and businesses, and attended a cultural program arranged by the villagers at Narayanganj, along with Ambassador Dan Mozena.
(Photo from US Embassy Bangladesh/FB)
From the US Embassy in Uzbekistan, we have Ambassador Krol in a shake your groove thing — with the dictator, but please don’t blame the guy.
March 22 marked Uzbekistan’s observance of Norouz, the Persian New Year, a holiday kept not just in Iran but all over Central Asia. For the occasion, Uzbek President Islam Karimov threw a big party in a Tashkent arena, replete with choreographed performances, giant balloons, and spontaneous dancing from officials who normally keep a tight lid on their public personas.
A festive spirit also took hold of the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, George Krol, who could be seen dancing at various points during the celebration. Krol has been on the job in Tashkent since June 2011, and previously served as America’s ambassador to Belarus.
Ambassador George Krol during a dance off in Uzbekistan
(click on the image to view the video)
The blog, Different Stans is asking: “Should you dance with the dictator — literally? That was the question some people had in mind when they saw the video clip discovered by Radio Ozodlik, the Uzbek language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, showing our own American envoy to Tashkent, Ambassador George Krol, dancing in the stadium audience at the official Novrouz celebration.”
The writer points out that Karimov has been president since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and head of state since 1989 and that kind of important point that we “really badly need Uzbekistan as a transit route for NATO troops and equipment because the route through Pakistan is blocked.”
Should you dance with the dictator? But what a silly question. Haven’t we seen Nancy danced with Ferdie and Ronnie danced with Meldy, she of a thousand shoes? Or Meldy with Lyndon? How easily we forget. Then it was about our bases and those commies in Asia. Now, it’s about our logistic route and those terrorists nearby; we have seen this genre before.
Since Raymond Bonner had just released his book, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, last February, perhaps he can be persuaded to write “Waltzing With a Dictator: The Karimov Edition.” Oops, we don’t like calling him a dictator? Fine …. as long as we don’t say silly things like, “*We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process, and we will not leave you in isolation.“
Meanwhile, our original dancing ambassador is kept busy in Thailand but has made time for parachute jumping (see Ambassador Kinney here during a jump in Lopburi). We look forward to doing a round up of chief of mission parachute jumping in a year or two.
*U.S. Vice-President George H. W. Bush during Ferdinand Marcos inauguration, June 1981.