it begins

ON WEDNESDAY, CONDOLEEZZA RICE said that Washington had changed its mind and, under the right conditions, might be ready to join Europe and negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. Next Sunday, in Nuremberg, Iran plays Mexico in the first round of the World Cup. Who can say for sure which event, in terms of Iran’s engagement with the world, will be seen by history as the more important?

As a large part of mankind awaits with acute excitement the epic quadrennial tournament of the World Cup, America yet again sits it out. Yes, the brave guys of the United States team are in Germany, ready to play the Czechs, Italians, and Ghanaians (London bookies make the Yanks 80-1 to win the Cup, which is at least better than Iran, at 250-1). Yes, more and more Americans have played the game at school or college. Yes, they know about bending it like David Beckham. Yes, “soccer moms” are a significant sociological and electoral group.

And yet there is no pretending that the final in Berlin on July 9 will matter to America remotely as much as baseball. You have the World Series, the rest of us have the World Cup, and never the twain shall meet.

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