Ben Affleck pays tribute to Canadian diplomats

Ben Affleck’s new film, Argo, recounts the joint Canadian-US effort to six American diplomats during the Iran Hostage crisis. Affleck, who co-wrote and directed the movie, has been accused of understating the role of the Canadian government and then-Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor.

But last night in Washington, DC, any hard feelings appeared to be smoothed over. The Canadian Embassy hosted an elegant reception for Affleck and the cast of Argo — including the amazing Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and John Goodman. Ken Tayor and his wife Pat also attended, as did several of the U.S diplomats who are portrayed in the film. (Affleck also had Taylor rewrite the postscript to the movie.)

In some ways, the evening was a page out of the Alan Gottlieb school of diplomacy: get a bunch of movies stars into your embassy and the U.S. politicos will follow. And they did. CIA director David Petraeus was there, as well as Sen. Chris Dodd,  Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, to name a few. Also in attendance were the usual assortment of former ambassadors and other Friends of Canada.

Afterward, there was a screening of Argo at a downtown movie theater. Affleck gave a moving tribute to the Canadians and Americans who gathered together to watch it:

“This is a story through one man’s perspective, through the perspective of the CIA. But one of the more beautiful aspects of it is that this is about the Canadians who stepped up. There were folks who didn’t want to take in our people who had escaped the embassy. Governments, some friends of ours said, ‘You know what, this isn’t appropriate for us. We don’t want to absorb this risk.’ But the Canadians did absorb the risk. And when they did, there was a man who was the ambassador whose name was Ken Taylor. And Ken allowed folks to come stay, putting himself at great risk. And his wife also agreed, putting herself at great risk.

He then began to coordinate a strategy with Ottawa, between Ottawa, himself, other governments and the people who were staying with them, to get them free and to try to organize communications with the CIA. This is an example of international cooperation and diplomacy that I am extremely proud to have in the movie. It demonstrates … the danger our diplomats put themselves in for our lives every day. We were reminded of that tragically recently in Benghazi, and this is yet another reminder. So if Ken and Pat would please stand…”

After his speech, Affleck made fun of himself for forgetting to thank Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer for the party:



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