“An introduction by way of an apology”
No, unfortunately, I have not done, any of the above, nor make any claims to. My only claim to fame, my calling card, is the fact, that after a lifetime (I am all of 43 years of age) of reading and writing (some of which was used to write a doctoral dissertation on Anglo-Amerian relations in the Cold War), I can claim to have arrived at some basic ideas as how the world works, or does not. Admittedly, my perspective has been clouded by perhaps reading too many diplomatic demarches, written either fifty, one hundred, if not two hundred years ago. I do think however, that diplomatists of times past (admittedly entirely a club of ‘dead, white, upper class males’, but so be it!), do in many cases have something to tell us, in our benighted age. Yes, I state loudly and clearly, for the record that the doings, of such eminences as Graf Nesselrode, Furst von Bismark, le comte de Talleyrand, Knyiaz Gorchakov, Lord Salisbury, or our recently departed George Frost Kennan, have more to teach us, than what type of sweater (Burberry’s?) the current British Prime Minister purchased for the American President’s birthday. Or other such banalities of recent vintage, which readily spring to mind. The past of course, never pre-determines anything, nor does it usually repeat itself. What it does tend to do, is to rule out options, force events, trends, et cetera, into certain currents, and, not that of others. A very good example of which is that while the stupidity, hubris and cretinism of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al., made the prospect of Iraq, ever becoming an ‘Arab Style Democracy with an Arab Style Market economy’ (Kenneth Pollack, “The Gathering Storm”), ever so much less likely, It is probably the case, that sans the missteps of the American occupation, that Pollack’s hopes of 2002, were unlikely to be realized in any case. The result was not ordained, but, it could very well be argued, that it was to a good degree, pre- determined. By history, geography, and demographics. A case if you like of ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’. However, I do not want to make the claim that the past or history, diplomatic or otherwise, is destiny. Far from it. As the British neo-Hegelian Philosopher Michael Oakshott, once put it:
“For the historian, for whom the past is dead and irreproachable, the past is feminine. He loves it as a mistress, of whom he never tires, and whom he never expects to talk sense [my emphasis]”.
So, dear pious reader, cher ami, cher ennemi (to paraphrase Baudelaire), do not expect me to be some sort of seer, or prophet. I make no such claims or presumptions. And, in any case, the internet, and television are full of individuals making such ridiculous claims. My only claim is to attempt, on a weekly basis, to convey to you, my own opinion, based upon my knowledge of the past, as to how things might or might not progress, or in certain cases regress. As time, that invariable marker of success or failure on God’s earth, marches ever onwards.