Yesterday morning, lots of papers and radio programmes told us what Mr Blair was going to say in his major speech to the Labour Party Conference later in the day.
How on earth, you must have said to yourself, could they possibly know what he was going to say if he hadn't said it yet? Well, would you be very shocked to know that all these organs had been well briefed in advance, and that many of the important commentators had received advance copies of the speech, even though none of them mentioned it?
Would you also be surprised to learn that I did not get a copy of the speech and therefore could not write about it in advance, thus sparing you much tedium? No matter. By some clerical mix-up at Labour HQ I did get something else slipped under my door from them, namely an advance copy of what seems to be the discussion notes of the half-dozen various war options open to Blair. Penned by Alastair Campbell, at a guess. See what you think.
Ideas for action over Afghanistan
1. The option of surgical strikes against bin Laden's camps.
Possible objection: it has always been suggested by critics that "surgical" has misleading overtones of "selective", "highly accurate", "no collateral damage" etc.
Oh, yeah? Then who are all these surgeons who are always getting struck off? Who are all these patients who keep dying on the operating table? What price the Bristol Royal Infirmary heart surgeon scandal? When we say "surgical bombing strikes", we mean the sort of bombing strike which would kill anyone within range, especially if they were not thought to be at any risk, as we have already show in in Iraq, Kosovo, etc.
2. Why not send Israeli bulldozers into the outskirts of Kabul, and clear all native areas for rebuilding as Israeli settlements, thus sending a clear signal that the Israelis mean business? It has never failed before. There has never been a weapon as effective as the Israeli bulldozer, as it has always has full infantry, artillery and aerial bombardment support, plus expert back-up by Israeli building industry who can get new houses up in a flash, and at a price which will seem very reasonable indeed, we think, take it or leave it, guv.
Possible danger: that the Taliban would make it punishable by death to convert people to Judaism.
3. To counter these right-wing fanatics of the Taliban, have we ever thought of sending in our own right-wing religious fanatics? Would there be any mileage in the idea of rounding up Bible Belt extremists from America, Ian Paisley followers from Northern Ireland, etc, and parachuting them in to deal with the Taliban?
Possible danger: that Paisley, etc, would get on far too well with the Taliban.
Conversely, what would be the advantage of sending the IRA in to Afghanistan, at least to the drug-producing areas? It got them a lot of bad publicity in Colombia – might do the same in Afghanistan.
4. Could we offer to swap Salman Rushdie for Osama bin Laden?
Possible objection: outside trendy London literary circles, this action might be thought in bad taste.
5. We might consider one American strategy which has always worked in the past, and that is to infiltrate Kabul with outlets of McDonald's, Starbucks, Burger Kings, and all other stockists of Coke and Pepsi, thus softening their fibre, attacking their teeth, undermining their diet and so on, and turning the place into another mock-American desert of litter and smells. I have had a word with McDonald's, who as you know are sponsoring some New Labour functions these days, and they are very keen to have a presence in Kabul.
Possible objection: It seems a bit harsh on the Taliban. Also, we may want to keep Kabul at some time in the future as the last undiscovered, unwesternised and unspoilt tourist resort.
6. I forgot to mention – we should bomb the Chinese Embassy in Kabul. There is no particular reason for this. It's just what we always do.
Possible objection: There may be no Chinese Embassy in Kabul.
Note: Can Intelligence help us on this one? There must be something they know.
cc Rupert Murdoch, etc.
I don' t know about you, but I am glad that the people at the top have got this one well in hand.