Helpful hints for leaders in distress

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IT'S a big welcome back today to Auntie Miles, the only agony aunt that top people trust. Yes, if you're a world leader and you've got a secret worry or major problem to get off your chest, who can you turn to? To Auntie Miles, that's who. All yours, Auntie]

From Saddam Hussein of Iraq

Dear Auntie Miles: I have this awful compulsion to invade nearby smaller countries and bully them. I also have a compulsion to bully minority races within my borders. Is there something wrong with me?

Auntie Miles writes: Bless you, no] This is quite natural. All leaders discover that they can divert civil discontent at home by mounting a successful foreign adventure. In fact, sooner or later they find that they can achieve the same end by mounting an unsuccessful adventure abroad. If you can find another foreign leader who is in the same position, you can both solve your problems with the same adventure, even though you are on different sides.

You will remember that a year or more ago, both you and George Bush wrote to me with this sort of problem. I recommended that one of you invade Kuwait and the other spring to its defence. It seems to have worked for both of you, even if I never did get a thank-you letter from either of you. Shame on you]

Well, it seems you both now need another injection of kudos - Bush because he is leaving office and you because you do not wish to leave it - and you have both decided to have another flurry of hostilities. Well done] This shows initiative. But I wouldn't try it a third time. The public can grow tired of the same war being fought over and over again. More important, so can television companies.

From William Clinton

Dear Auntie Miles: Hi, this is the first time I have written to you, because I haven't been a top person till now, but now I am (you have probably seen me playing the saxophone on television, it makes a difference to have a world leader who can play the sax). Anyway, what I want to ask is this: what the hell do I do about Saddam Hussein? Keep bombing him, or what?

Auntie Miles writes: Nice to hear from you. I must correct you on one thing. The king of Thailand, who has been on the throne for a good long while now, is an accomplished saxophonist and always used to sit in with visiting American jazz groups. Perhaps you could make a point of sitting in with a few jazz groups from Asia, and not play just with bands we outside the United States have never heard of.

Your smartest line of action would be to stop bombing Iraq and greet Saddam Hussein as a friend. It has long been a distinctive feature of American foreign policy that you build up a big bad enemy and then, just when he can't get any worse, you hold out the hand of reconciliation to him.

Remember Nixon's friendship mission to China? Remember Reagan and Russia, the evil empire, and the subsequent turnaround? Remember you fought Japan and Germany in the Second World War and they are now your allies, whereas China and Russia were on your side then?

Invite Saddam Hussein over to the United States. While he is there, he may be ousted in a coup back home. If he is not, he may well be assassinated on US soil, or at least he will be if you can organise things properly. If neither happens, he might even turn friendly to you.

From John Major

Dear Auntie Miles: I am normally kept very busy supporting our allies - backing the Americans in their bombing raids in Iraq, or the EC in trying to get the Danes to see sense over Maastricht - or getting the Tories to see sense over Maastricht, come to that. Yet despite all this support for other people, I am sometimes hurtfully accused of not having any policy or individuality of my own. Do you not think that at such a time all the other people I have supported over the years would come to my support?

Auntie Miles writes: No.

Tomorrow Sir John Harvey-Jones will be here in this space to tackle top people's emotional problems, concluding, among other things, that Buckingham Palace has a good product but the wrong marketing techniques, and that a sex therapist who has discovered she has a cabinet minister living upstairs is in danger of losing her hard-won reputation.