I just wrote a piece here for Time magazine on Ahmadinejad’s visit to Brazil but I confess it was a struggle finding something original to say about the trip. Neither Ahmadinejad nor Lula said anything new and it was more about photo ops for the Iranian and Lula projecting himself as a leader respected the world over.

But there was one particularly interesting point, raised by Oxford University’s Brazil expert Dr Timothy Power. US scolds should think twice before berating others about who they meet, Power said.

The US is pally with Saudi Arabia, China, and Pakistan, to name but a few, all of whom have their own less than stellar records on democracy and human rights. Not to mention Afghanistan, where the US is backing one of the most corrupt leaders in the world.

And as Power pointed our, when Obama was asked in the primaries if he would sit down with the leaders of rogue states without any preconditions, he said he would. Lula is doing exactly that.

Engagement might not always work. But it can’t do much harm.