Notes From the Wastebin of History

[nb: As Christopher Montgomery is away this week – paragliding in Tashkent – is replacing him with stuff we found earlier in the week in a wastepaper bin, in a conference room in London’s Canary Wharf. Although the document is incomplete, it is clearly a transcription, and we believe the initials stand for the following people: GHS – Dame Georgina Henderson-Smith, late of the FCO; KB – Karl Bochebiffer, noted American author; AH – Anton Hasselhoff, director of Weekly Review Online’s National Goals programme; DG – Dr David Greenacre, previously Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Reagan; &, HH – Harry Holmes, who writes The Sun’s, “The Man who knows what Rupert’s thinking” column]

HH: … and of course I was talking to Paul about Cem –

KB: Good man, met with Vernon in ‘82 –

HH: – but as I was saying, Paul put it perfectly as usual – Turkey has a responsibility, more to itself than to anyone else, to make the right choice.

DG: And you know, I’m confident that she will. Reading Bernard’s excellent new book reminded just how much Ataturk took his inspiration from General Washington – another military man who knew how to get things done! – when he set up the Turkish republic. And it goes without saying that today she’s the only democracy in the region –

AH: – Other than Israel –

DG: – Oh obviously. But to return to my point, I think it’s precisely because of the values modern Turkey, and I use the word advisedly, has that she’ll make the right choice when it comes to Saddam.

HH: At this point, as we start moving into specifics, I’d like to encourage Dame Georgina to say a few words – Georgie, you’ve been a bit quiet, what are your thoughts on Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz’s mission to Turkey? Do you think Ankara will see sense?

GHS: I’m sure it will.

HH: Thanks.

DG: But before we move away from Turkey, we should just remind ourselves about what it is that sets her apart from her neighbours – her constitutionalism, her respect for the rule of law, the ability of the armed forces to recognise a threat and do something about it.

AH: Yeah, like the Spanish. I think we all know why those Moroccans wanted Parsley island: if I’d been a goat, I’d have drowned myself too!

DG: Hah hah. But a good point as well. It’s time we started applauding countries like Spain that don’t just role over in the face of Arab atavism but do something about it.

AH: Yeah, I go all round the country speaking to college kids and the level of ignorance is simply amazing. But it’s the ones who want, despite everything we’ve seen in the last year, that just make me want to shout at them: where were you went the planes went in?! and where will you be when the marines go in? Far too soft all of them – I don’t even think we could reintroduce the draft today. Everyone would be too busy crying for Mom to even get past basic training.

KB: I remember mine, some Red optometrist declared me unfit for active service. Spent the rest of Korea at Harvard with Henry, very clever man. Once told me that Metternich had said, ‘and how many letters does the Sublime Porte steam open himself? Precious few’. All very true, I think on it often.

DG: But Anton’s right –

AH: – And so’s my armchair – it tells me what to think.

DG: Yes indeed. As Anton said on Crossfire last week –

GHS: – We don’t get that here.

HH: We do – it’s on Sky, you’ve got to ‘get with it’ Georgie.

DG: Anyway, as Anton said, the trouble with the kids is that if it was up to them the President would have to ask every Senator one by one, then take a car trip with Teddy Kennedy before we could do something about the clear and present danger that is Saddam.

HH: Totally, a government has to be able to act, the first duty of the state is to protect its citizens.

KB: Let’s remind ourselves what it is we’re dealing with in Saddam – a regime where there’s no pretence at constitutional form, where numberless detention without trial takes place, and where unprovoked wars of aggression are started against other countries.

GHS: And they give money to other people’s terrorists.

HH: Quite.

GHS: And then there’s all the informers, and the secret policemen, and –

HH: Yes, it’s quite a catalogue. But the question I want to ask, before we go to the specifics is, what are we going to do to help the Americans? Obviously we’re spending more money (though not enough, and we’re still pathetically keen on using 2nd rate British stuff when we could be using 1st rate US kit) and we’re seeing the back of that blinkered idiot Boyce. But are we doing enough? Georgie, you’ve just escaped from the clutches of civil service pay to the City, what do you think we’re doing?

GHS: Well, uh, we’ve started liquidating a lot of those military commitments we so foolishly picked up in the 90s. The boys, as it were, are coming home. Albeit, I suppose they could well be on their way again pretty soon.

DG: And last you ‘chaps’ are beginning to get to grips with the sort of command and control systems any serious politico-military player needs –

GHS: – well, I’m not exactly sure that’s such a good thing. It seems like an awful lot of money to spend on unreliable computer equipment, which even if it worked would just mean that we’d end up with Campbell and Blair sitting in the cabinet room at number ten, staring at a big TV screen, and saying, ‘no, shoot him, him on the left’.

KB: I think there’s something in what Dame Henderson-Smith says, there’s no point in having capable armed forces if they’re being second guessed in the field by know-nothings in DC and SW1.

HH: Okay, let’s move on: how’s it going to start, and what are we going to do once we’ve won?

DG: Let’s get one thing straight, it’s already started. It started the moment Preppy failed to finish it off last time, and we’ve been paying for it ever since. And let’s get another thing equally straight – Downing is the biggest Putz to wear a uniform since –

AH: – Colin Powell started wearing silk panties under his –

DG: – since Colin Powell started sucking up to those girly-boys at State. The idea that this will take even a fraction of the troops: unbelievable. You’d think they didn’t want to fight.

AH: Yeah, but let’s not downplay the risks. I was coming back from work last night when I saw it – an office for Saudi Airlines. Think about, 18 out of 19, and every day they have planes, in our airspace, flying over New York and Washington, every day. Think about it.

KB: What, clearly, all of this tells us is that we need to drag back the defense budget from the level Clinton had allowed it to fall to. That way we can start thinking about being into a position to deal with the serried tasks America faces.

HH: And will, I’m sure, under this president, face up to.

KB: Hmmn, we shall see. No one should underestimate the challenge facing us in reordering the failed, artificial states –

DG – a legacy, I’m afraid, of British imperialism –

KB: – hmmn, in the region. Strictly between us, I have made the case to POTUS that what we really need as a regional counter-weight to the post-Iraq moment is a United Kingdom of Jordan and Iraq. With Abdullah as King, the political capital in Amman, and a rebuilt Baghdad as a sort of Arab New York.

AH: There’s a lot of common sense in that – as ever! – but we Republicans, the people who think seriously about these things, have a duty to start preparing the American people that it’s time to sign on for a new fifty year tour of duty, for that’s what it’s going to take.

DG: And they’ll like it, they’ll like it. What sort of ‘Democrat’ is going to stand up against a president who has Saddam, or what’s left of him, put on trial before an international tribunal for crimes against humanity? It’s preposterous to think that anyone could even dare oppose the extension of such essentially American values (no offense Georgina!)

HH: What use do we think we’ll be able to make of our friends we met in Kensington Town Hall at the weekend?

GHS: Not that much, but I wonder if we might mention as a factor our various, and varied, relationships with Israel –

DG: I wondered when we would get round to that old obsession –

GHS: – I haven’t actually said anything yet David –

DG: Nonetheless, there’s no issue here, there’s nothing to talk about. Anyone who’s had the wit to read Efraim Karsh’s ‘What Occupation?’ in Commentary

KB: No, you mean his article last summer, exploding the myth that there ever were any Palestinians, ‘The Palestinians and the “Right of Return”’ –

AH: No, no, you mean his article the summer before asking, quite reasonably, ‘Were the Palestinians expelled?’ That’s easily the best summary of why Israel has always existed, even when it didn’t exist, and why there’s never been a Palestinian state.

GHS: Anyway, what I was going to say was –

DG: – and let’s not forget the tide of anti-Semitism engulfing England, we’ve all seen the ads, you’ve all seen the report, in the London Express . . .

GHS: Yes, that’s all fine and dandy, but what I was going to ask was, since the President couldn’t state-build further east, is there not a case for doing some in the Levant as well?

HH: No one’s saying he’s perfect, we don’t have to follow slavishly every word he says …