Maltravers: Look here, Carr-Moffit, I wish you’d explain this whole Middle East business.
Carr-Moffit: Of course, old boy. Nothing simpler. We’re after these frightful IS chaps. They really are the most ghastly shower!
Maltravers: Ah yes, now they’re fighting Assad in Syria, aren’t they?
Carr-Moffit: That’s right.
Maltravers: But we don’t like Assad, do we?
Carr-Moffit: Good Heavens, no. The man’s a perfect beast!
Maltravers: I see, so we’re against Assad, but also IS?
Carr-Moffit: Quite so.
Maltravers: Am I right in thinking that Saudi Arabia supports IS?
Carr-Moffit: They do, rather, yes.
Maltravers: But we’re quite chummy with the Saudis, aren’t we?
Carr-Moffit: Thick as thieves, old man.
Maltravers: I think I’m beginning to understand. Now, IS is attacking Iraq, isn’t it?
Carr-Moffit: Exactly. There you can see what swine they are!
Maltravers: And no doubt, IS is supported by Iran? I mean, they’re old enemies of Iraq, aren’t they?
Carr-Moffit: Ah, now you’re clearly no old hand in the Middle East. No, Iran supports Iraq against IS.
Maltravers: I’m not sure I quite follow.
Carr-Moffit: My dear fellow, it’s simple enough. Some of our chums in the region are chums with some of our enemies, but some of our enemies are our chums. Some of our enemies, not the same enemies, obviously, are fighting other enemies. Quite clearly, we don’t want the enemies who are fighting our enemies to gain any ground. You see?
Maltravers: Er, I’m not sure…
Carr-Moffit: Look at it this way, old man; if the people we want to defeat are defeated by other people, we might like those other people even less than we like the ones they’ve just defeated. It really is simply absurd – I mean absurdly simple. Do you see?
Maltravers: Thanks, that’s put it in a nutcase – nutshell. You wouldn’t have an aspirin, would you?
Carr-Moffit: In the end, of course, it’s the people of the region who’ll have to sort it out.
Maltravers: And in the meantime, what are we doing? Apart from sending in bombers and so forth?
Carr-Moffit: We’re selling vast quantities of weapons, old man, and boosting exports like anything.
Maltravers: To which side?
Carr-Moffit: Well, as I hope I’ve just explained, old man, the question of which side is purely academic. We have to be impartial in the matter.
Maltravers: Except towards IS?
Carr-Moffit: Except them, of course. Terrible people. Utterly unscrupulous. Another brandy?
(With thanks to Aubrey Bailey of Fleet, Hants., who explained the situation so clearly.)