Sir Humphrey Appleby: There are essentially six options. One, ignore it, two, file a protest, three, issue a statement condemning it, four, cut off aid, five, sever diplomatic relations, six, declare war. Now, if we ignore it, we tacitly acknowledge it, if we file a protest it’ll be ignored, if we issue a statement it will seem weak, we can’t cut off aid because we’re not giving any, if we sever relations we risk losing the oil contract and if we declare war… people might just think we’re overreacting.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last 500 years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now when it’s worked so well?
James Hacker: That’s all ancient history, surely.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, and current policy. We had to break the whole thing up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn’t work. Now that we’re inside we can make a complete pig’s breakfast of the whole thing: set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased, it’s just like old times.
James Hacker: But if that’s true, why is the foreign office pushing for higher membership?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: I’d have thought that was obvious. The more members an organization has, the more arguments it can stir up. The more futile and impotent it becomes.
James Hacker: What appalling cynicism.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: We call it diplomacy, Minister.
[On the 1938 Munich Agreement]
Sir Humphrey Appleby: It occurred before certain important facts were known, and couldn’t happen again.
James Hacker: What important facts?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, that Hitler wanted to conquer Europe.
James Hacker: I thought that everybody knew that.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Not the Foreign Office.