The Self-Fulfilling Prophets

It was a grand afternoon in the early fall of 1991, the air crispening with incoming autumn, the sun sharply bright on Pennsylvania Ave., when Col, Condy, Dick, Don and Paul all sat down for tea in one of the innumerable wooden-paneled offices with the thick leather club chairs and old-worldly feel with which we are so familiar from the West Wing and Houses of Cards delivered to our own living rooms. This particular office boasts ottomans, befitting the occasion. As invited for the afternoon chinwag were Bernie and Sam, helicoptered in for the occasion from Boston and Princeton respectively. It fell to Condy as the spring chick among the poker-faced men of steel to play mother and pour out the best first flush from the Turkish Black Sea into the wafer-tin cups of china with their golden handles and rims. Dick grabbed the silver tongs, added three sugar cubes, took a ginger biscuit in his Texan paw and dunked it in the syrupy brew, before opening proceedings. In so doing, he simply set the agenda for the next two decades: “Colin may be my senior, but since I sent out the invites, let me be so presumptuous and say why we’re gathered here today. Hardly a surprise, but in my opinion it’s a matter of our national security, of how we defend our real interests in the world. And of course it’s a matter of how we don’t get ourselves in the same position as the peanut-shucker did in Iran. We’ve paid out billions since 1980 on stabilizing Saddam and whittling away at the muftis’ power; we’re now spared further spending on busting any more Russian balls in Europe, so it’s high time to think what we need to next. And I’ve invited you two distinguished professors here because I’m fed up of opening the paper and reading the crap that RAND’s little fake-Jap gushes on the end of history. Just because we won the one war we shouldn’t be overlooking the next one. That’s greenhorn academics for you. Not like you guys. So…”


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