Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.

Decision time is approaching. Yesterday rumour and counter-rumour prevailed over fact and fiction. With India clinging to its get-out clause for defence cooperation agreements, the UN Secretary-General apparently demarched New Delhi to call for some flexibility. Meanwhile, the sceptics were increasingly upset at how little of their concerns were reflected in the evolving text and it was feared they might vote it down (i.e. block consensus) on Thursday. On the other hand, Rule 33 of the Rules of Procedures says epigramatically that the conference should "take its decisions and consider the text by consensus". Whatever that means exactly is anyone's guess. Perhaps we should vote on an interpretation...?
Maybe this was Woolcott's strategy all along and we were just too naïve and blind to see it? Keep the United States happy, as he surely has--gotta love a special relationship!--and accept that Plan B (a vote in the UN General Assembly to adopt the text) was the only realistic way to get a meaningful treaty. If so, it's risky, but it may work. As Disraeli cautioned, though, "the most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps".
So we await the putative treaty text this morning with excitement and no little trepidation. "Fortune favours the brave" said Pliny the Elder. Unfortunately, his brave choice was to sail on to Pompeii where he died under a hail of volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. Let's console ourselves a tad then with Alexander Pope's dictum: "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."