A governing body without a vision is
like a sail boat without sails
Sailing from the English coast to the French coast is always a pleasant experience, as long as the weather is good, the Channel traffic is under control and the vessel you use counts with all the necessary comforts.
Going down to the sea in ships invokes all kind of romantic sagas, historical events and even drama and tragedy. It is the kind of activity that stimulates the professor who seems to spend a good part of the time sitting in the control station in the astern of the boat where he has proper protection against the wind and can punch the keys of his laptop at will.
Years ago I was convinced that the subject of his writings had to do with the sea; I expected poetic reminiscences of boats, mariners and sirens and in stead I discovered long essays on subjects like new mathematical approaches to finite sequences or simple stories about the origins of lobster bisque in the Normandy Coast.
Having a Gin and Tonic in mid morning is not something that I would recommend, unless you happen to be on a boat with the Professor. Somehow, the impact of the gin and the tonic, plus the slice of lemon plus the wind caressing the riggings of the boat and the Professor's curiosity about all topics, justifies the subtle protection of the drink against the breezes of the channel.
“Professor, what do you think of our present situation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the Israel, Palestine question?”
“For a seasoned journalist, your question suffers from many obvious flaws. Please allow me. First, it is not one situation as you say. A situation in the proper sense implies some form of stability which, incidentally is missing in all three cases you mention. We face several major involvements, would be the correct way of describing our current activity in the Middle East and Asia”
“OK Professor, but come to the point”
“No problema. In all three involvements, our Administration has shown a blatant disregard for form and style. Foreign policy, as practiced and understood by this Administration has been nothing but a show of force, disguised around simple rhetoric, resounding phrases and unbearable arrogance. It is a sad improvisation where its most important element, diplomacy, is missing. It leads to disaster. And, my friend, history is there to back up my assertion”
“I guess most of our friends would agree and even some of our enemies. How about a grand design such as the establishment of freedom and democracy in those parts of the world that need it most?"
“Listen, there is no political philosophy that can be nurtured within closed minds and without a practical approach, meaning the need to maintain an open dialogue within ourselves and with the rest of the world. . And diplomacy and political leadership, as is well known involves interaction, compromise, discussion and hopefully the search for practical conclusions"
We freshened up the drinks, meaning more fresh gin, fresh tonic and fresh ice cubes and after the regulation toast to whatever, the Professor continued:
"It takes a master plan, a vision, a dream, an objective and even an illusion. But it must permeate the minds of the people to be valid and to be legitimate. By saying that you have the greatest army in the world and that you are full of brave and courageous young men can be as empty a pronouncement as a forced birthday greeting”
“Probably so Professor. But why?”
“I don’t wish to waste this wonderful day expounding complex theories and appealing to obscure principles and accepted premises. Let me just say that our Administration has lacked from the beginning the key ingredient needed to make the United States not only the superpower that it is but the great superpower it should be”
“And, what is it?”
“One word: vision. Allow me a shallow comparison. Look at your helmsman. He is intent on maintaining this sail boat on course, and he is doing whatever is necessary, even if you don’t lend a hand and sit here with me drinking this horrendous Gin and Tonic at ten in the morning. He has a vision. And he is getting us there”
“What is the vision?”
“To get to port safely and to keep us from consuming all the gin on board!”
Chemical engineer by training, international executive by merit and writer by addiction. Former syndicated columnist of Technology columns, has written for television and movies. His humorous articles contain fine satire and have been published in 4 languages. Quote: “Love and smiles teach tolerance; days without either are days wasted"