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Hot dogs: America's olive branch

June 08, 2009

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I'm so jacked about the upcoming switch from analog to digital television signals that I've had trouble sleeping, which might explain why I was up late reading a New York Times article about Iran and hot dogs.

Iran, as you probably know, is not our best buddy. They take hostages, burn our flag, fire (Photoshopped) missiles, call us the Great Satan, play around with nukes and blow up people, including themselves.

But they have oil.

So that makes them like the aging, tantrum-throwing relative you have to be nice to so he doesn't cut you out of the will.

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I think Iran is also considered a key to Mideast stabilization, whatever that is. So bottom line, we don't want to kill it, we just need to hit Iran with a really big tranquilizer dart.

And frankfurters might hold the key. According to the Times, the Obama administration has ordered our embassies around the world to invite Iranian representatives to their annual Fourth of July parties, which feature dinners of hot dogs.

The article states: "Administration officials characterized the move as another in a series of American overtures to Iran. The United States has not had relations with Iran since the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by protesters in 1979; the country's diplomats have not been formally invited to American events since then."

OK, OK, but -- hot dogs?

The symbolism evades me. When God promised he would never flood the earth again, he didn't send Noah an Oscar Mayer wiener.

What are we going to tell the Iranians? In honor of improved relations, here, have a sausage casing stuffed with vegetable filler, artificial coloring and pig ick.

Spare no expense, that's us. With all the stimulus money floating around, you think at least they could have sprung for ribs.

Shows why I never could have been an envoy. I might be tempted to come out and say, "Hey, want to normalize relations?" But apparently you can't do that in diplomatic circles. You have to rely on symbols and hand gestures:

What you want to say: "We've had our differences over the years, but maybe it's time to bury the hatchet in the interests of world peace."

What you actually say: "Have a hot dog."

What they want to say: "We'll think about it, but you are going to have to see some things from our point of view."

What they actually say: "Thanks. Do you have any mustard?"

What we want to say: "That's a two-way street. You have to understand that we can't walk away from our allies."

What we actually say: "Sure, yellow or brown?"

It's no wonder there are so many wars. Who can understand the language? Someone says, "Come on, nobody puts mayonnaise on a hot dog," and they take it to mean, "Nuclear bombs will fall on you like rain, you filthy dogs."

Still, as diplomatic initiatives go, hot dogs might not be such a bad idea. First, they're cheap enough. And it's not as if sanctions or threats or anything else has worked. Maybe food is the key. Who knows, maybe the whole Cold War thing never would have happened if we'd just sent the Soviet Union some cupcakes.

But there's still one nagging question about this whole hot dog diplomacy business: Has anyone mentioned to the State Department that Muslims as a rule don't eat pork?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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