Recently, there were unconfirmed rumors that Hollywood actor Steven Seagal was suggested as honorary consul of Russia by President Putin. It’s long been known that Mr. Seagal supports Kremlin policies so some people took seriously the rumors (although as I said, they have been denied) that he’d be Russia’s honorary consul in California and Arizona. The thought is an interesting one.
Above all, it raises the question if being an honorary consul can or should be a reward for something?
In my book The Foreign Consuls Among Us: Local Bridges to Globalism I talk about the temporary moratorium that the U.S. State Department enacted in the 1980s on new honorary consuls. One of the off-the-record reasons was the out-of-control number of persons who held the title but without any expectations of performing consular functions. Of course, there was also an official reason. This included the fact that the hosting country (here: the United States) has to make sure that foreign consuls can safely perform their functions while here. The greater the number of consuls, the more resources have to be used.
In an earlier posting I wrote about the many professions represented in the civilian side of honorary consuls. Some of them make you wonder if there are consuls who really are “honorary consuls” in name only, because of other professional time constraints.
None of the above is to detract from President Putin’s reported interest in having a Hollywood actor like Steven Seagal be Russia’s honorary consul at least in California. But for the sake of the consular institution as a whole, one can only hope that any potential candidate is considered for his ability to perform consular functions. To be an honorary consul is never just an award for something.