Remember when Iranian radicals stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held its occupants hostage for what seemed like an eternity?

Though that episode took place some nine years ago, it was so painful and embarrassing that Americans haven't forgotten. But evidently the Swiss have.In any event, the Swiss government has agreed to accept one of the ringleaders of that outrage as the new diplomat to Switzerland from Iran.

Never mind that the appointment of Seyed Mohammad Malaek to the post antagonizes Washington. Never mind that it doesn't set well either with the governments of Britain, Canada, and Japan.

Actually, the Swiss can't use short memories as an excuse for alienating their friends in the international community. After learning of the appointment, Washington sent to Switzerland one of our diplomats who was a hostage of Iran to tell the Swiss about Malaek's role in the long seizure of 52 Americans. The pleas, however, fell on deaf ears.

When the Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran, they in effect invaded what international law considers to be part of America's sovereign territory. Consequently, what's at stake in Malaek's appointment is not just the fate of one diplomat but a cardinal principle. That principle centers on the need to keep any nation's embassies inviolate.

Though the Swiss are internationally respected for their strict adherence to neutrality, they clearly need to learn a famous dictum: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."