Friday, December 15, 2006

Lord Kitchener

Classical diplomatic stuff, courtesy Duff Coopper, Esq.

Of all the books this blogger of yours bought in Cambridge University territory while awaiting patiently the end of a daughterly interviewing process, the "Duff Cooper Diaries" is the real treat. Duff Cooper is the very epithome of the diplomat-as-witness-of-History-in-the-making. Plus, he was a top class lady-izer, a sybarite and a charming fellow. As a metaphorical carrot that will make the Right Honourable Reader run to his nearest site, I'm considering quoting a couple of nuggets of the said diaries.
Think of today's Mesopotamia (Irak) and just enjoy this entry:

July 11, 1916

(…) Dined at 10 Downing Street (…) At first I felt very uncomfortable , alone with three Cabinet Ministers who I feared would say things I should not hear. But they seem quite unaware of my presence. The talked about the campaign in Mesopotamia. The mismanagement they said was all due to (…) .The decision to attempt the capture of Baghdad was entirely due to the military experts. Kitchener said that we might take it but couldn’t hold it. Even so he thought it worth doing from a political point of view. Curzon said: “Don’t take it unless you can hold it”.. (…)
Deliciously ironical, no?...

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