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I have observed that a US diplomat/senior official always visits the bashed country just after a significant bashing.

The following are some foreign visits of US officials that I remember:

Mike Pompeo's visit to Pakistan in September 2018:
There was a diplomatic spat between the United States and Pakistan just before Mike Pompeo's visit to the country in September 2018. The US announced in January 2018 that it was suspending security assistance to Pakistan over its alleged failure to take decisive action against militant groups operating within its borders. This decision was met with strong criticism from Pakistan, which accused the United States of scapegoating Pakistan for its own failures in Afghanistan.

During his visit, Pompeo emphasized the need for Pakistan to take stronger action against militant groups operating within its borders and urged the country to play a constructive role in promoting peace and stability in the region. He also expressed a willingness to work with Pakistan on issues of mutual concern, such as counterterrorism and economic development.

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Mike Pompeo's visit to Russia in May 2019:
In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on several Russian individuals and entities in response to what it called Russia's "malign activity" around the world, including its interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In August 2018, the United States imposed additional sanctions on Russia in response to the March 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, which the United States and its allies blamed on the Russian government. Furthermore, in December 2018, the United States imposed new sanctions on several Russian individuals and entities in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, including its seizure of Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait. These sanctions targeted Russian government officials, Russian companies, and individuals involved in the construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge.

The primary purpose of Pompeo's visit to Russia was to discuss these and other issues with his Russian counterparts and to explore the possibility of finding common ground on areas of mutual concern. Specifically, Pompeo and Lavrov discussed the possibility of working together to address the ongoing conflict in Syria and explored the potential for increased cooperation on issues related to nuclear arms control and counterterrorism.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's virtual meeting with China in 2020:
The United States imposed several rounds of sanctions on China in 2020, targeting individuals and entities alleged to have committed human rights abuses in Xinjiang, as well as Chinese officials and companies involved in the crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong. Here are some of the key dates:

July 9, 2020: The United States imposed sanctions on several Chinese officials and entities under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, in response to alleged human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other minority groups in Xinjiang. August 7, 2020: The United States imposed sanctions on 11 Hong Kong officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam, for their role in implementing a new national security law in Hong Kong that critics say undermines the territory's autonomy and freedoms. August 14, 2020: The United States imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese officials, including Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, under an executive order signed by President Trump that targets individuals and entities involved in undermining Hong Kong's autonomy. September 14, 2020: The United States imposed additional sanctions on Chinese officials and entities involved in human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including a ban on imports of certain products from Xinjiang.

In August 2020, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a virtual meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the implementation of the phase one trade deal between the two countries.

Blinken's visit to Turkey in November 2021:
In April 2021, the US announced that it would provide $155 million in military assistance to Greece to upgrade its F-16 fighter jets. Turkey criticized the move, saying that it would undermine regional stability. In May 2021, Turkey announced that it would purchase a Russian S-400 air defense system. The US responded by imposing sanctions on Turkey, which Turkey denounced as "a grave mistake."

On 30 November 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Turkey and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and other officials.

One of the main issues on the agenda was the situation in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops. Turkey had been actively involved in talks with the Taliban to secure the Kabul airport, and the US was seeking Turkey's continued support in this effort. The two sides also discussed the conflict in Syria, including Turkey's military operations in northern Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis. Blinken expressed US concerns about Turkey's human rights record, including its treatment of journalists and political dissidents, and urged Turkey to release detained US citizens and local staff of the US embassy. In addition to these issues, Blinken and Turkish officials also discussed regional security, including the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Turkey's relations with Russia.

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Blinken's visit to China in March 2022:
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China in March 2022. He met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other senior officials. The aim of Blinken's visit to China was to discuss a range of issues, including the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Taiwan issue, and human rights. Blinken and Wang Yi agreed to continue dialogue and work together to manage the competition between the United States and China.

The United States asked for China's help in resolving the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Blinken said that China could play a constructive role in helping to end the war. China has not condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and has refused to call it a war.

The United States and China had a spat just before Blinken's visit in 2022. In January 2022, the United States announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The boycott was in response to China's human rights abuses, including the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. China condemned the boycott and called it a "political stunt."

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Janet Yellen's visit to China in July 2023:
Dutch company stops exporting chip-making equipment to China on US pressure. China retaliates by banning the export of Gallium and Germanium. The USD is also losing its position as the world's leading reserve currency.

Now, Janet Yellen is on a 4-day tour in China.


One common pattern of the visits was, a bashing was done just before touring, and the USA needs some favor from the bashed country.

So, if they need a favor, why the bashing in the first place? If they already bashed them, why the tour (i.e., will the bashed country be in the mood to do a favor after eating the bashing)?

Can anyone explain this to me?

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    3 cherry picked items from 5 years do not establish the pattern you are claiming: you need more evidence. OTOH if these are just 3 isolated events they may have different explanations. So you either need to bring better evidence for your assumption, or split out these examples as separate questions. Jul 6, 2023 at 14:08
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    "The USD is also losing its position as the world's leading reserve currency." If I would have got a dollar each time I've heard this, I would be quite rich by now. Jul 6, 2023 at 19:01
  • @NoDataDumpNoContribution, Okay, so be it!
    – user366312
    Jul 6, 2023 at 19:15
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    I don't think this makes for a full-on answer, but I think you are missing something here: generally speaking, visits by heads of state/government to another country is seen as a boost to the host country. However visits by even senior diplomatic representatives - while indicative that the relationship has not yet totally broken down - are just that: an indication that there is "business to discuss". Which there is, when there is a diplomatic crisis. Pre-WW2 there were plenty of diplomatic flurries w Germany, to avert the war, despite Germany being in the doghouse. Jul 6, 2023 at 21:06

3 Answers 3

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Diplomatic visits are business trips, meant to discuss and (hopefully) resolve some international problem or issue. They are mostly done out of the public eye. But when a problem proves intractable over a certain length of time, the US (as well as other nations) will make a public show of displeasure — sanctions, condemnations, trade restrictions, even occasionally limited-goal military incursions (all the things you mean by 'bashings') — followed by a public, high-profile diplomatic visit. This is performance art. It's meant to show the foreign state in question, the international community, and domestic citizens that the US is 'fed up' with the lack of progress.

  • The 'bashings' are a point of negotiation, meant to create a greater interest for discussion in the foreign state
  • The high-profile diplomat is a signal that the US might be willing to offer more than before, making discussion more valuable to the foreign state
  • The public nature of the performance reassures domestic audiences that the situation is being handled, and reassures foreign allies that the US is not gearing up for war

I have questions over whether this time-honored system of international signaling still works in the current age of invasive media and deep polarization; signaling of this sort requires tacit understandings and a level of communicative trust that bad actors in the public sphere are currently busy undermining. But that's a different question entirely.

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Countries don't have to agree on everything and sometimes publicly disagree. This doesn't mean that they have to stop talking to each other. And, when countries do disagree, they usually have something to talk about.

Prior to a major international visit, the person touring or their government often lays out an agenda of issues or concerns as a trial balloon to measure support at home for their position, before actually taking action in support of those issues and concerns, and as an "opening offer" in negotiations with the other country.

Complete suspension of diplomatic contact is a diplomatic step generally reserved for situations when a country has acted in a manner that is truly beyond the pale, either through misconduct of their diplomats in particular, or for example, by declaring war on the party suspending diplomatic contact or its allies.

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    This doesn't answer my question.
    – user366312
    Jul 6, 2023 at 19:37
  • This answer sounds like this: "Whyy do cranes stand on one leg while folding the other?" Answer: "Because they will not be able to stand if they fold both legs!"
    – user366312
    Jul 7, 2023 at 0:10
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    @user366312 I'm sorry that my answer didn't give you the information that you sought. I must not have understood what you were really getting at.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 7, 2023 at 1:22
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Perhaps due to the fact that USA is often times uncapable of conducting foreign policy properly, without emotion, insults, lies and demands -- uncapable to treat most of other countries with respect, that is.

And which in turn originates from the fact that it - USA - has been economically and militarily strong for quite some time. This has made the country, and its government, deem itself special and above the law.

As it's been loosing its advantage to China, Russia, India..., the time itself will naturally cure USA and its government.

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