Turnstile diplomacy

AMERICAN officials who deal with foreign affairs must visit the world's areas of gravest turmoil to perform their work well, as they will tell you. Which explains, perhaps, why last year 13,000 US officials visited - are you ready for this? - Paris.

Yes, Paris. They loved Paris in the springtime, as the song recommends. Also in summer, fall, and winter. So many loved it that it took the US embassy the equivalent of one man working seven years to service their needs.

Maybe so many went because of all the talk that Europe's in decline. Perhaps they feared Europe would pull a 20th-century Atlantis and suddenly sink into the sea.

Not to worry. Viewed from the perspective of April, Paris - and the rest of Europe - just might last a little longer. Even without the help of those 13,000 officials.

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