Consulate a distinction without a difference

info@islandpacket.comNovember 2, 2012 

An Oct. 26 letter to the editor seemed to claim that there is a distinction between a consulate and an embassy and that "Benghazi was a consulate, not an embassy, with different purposes and security protocols."

A consulate is like a junior embassy. It's generally located in a busy tourist city and takes care of minor diplomatic tasks, such as issuing visas. The word consulate literally means office of the consul, who is a diplomat appointed to foster trade and take care of expatriates.

Embassies are much bigger deals. The word embassy comes from the French embassy, or office of the ambassador. Ambassadors are high-ranking diplomatic representatives, who serve as spokespersons for their national governments. If one country recognizes the sovereignty of another, they generally establish an embassy there. Embassies take care of the same administrative duties as consulates, but they also represent their governments abroad.

Forget the designation "consulate" or "embassy" and the "security protocol" nonsense, the bottom line is that the ambassador requested security for the Benghazi consulate on several occasions. The State Department denied the requests, and our ambassador was murdered, along with three other American citizens.

Arthur I. Trager


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