“Norma, I hope you have better news.”
“Yes, sir, I do,” said the poised and confidant secretary. “I’ll summarize the status of my negotiations with our fellow permanent members on the Security Council.
“The outlook is positive in The United Kingdom. I anticipate the Conservative Party will falter in the coming elections. The Labor Party will likely gain a majority in parliament, and Alfred Kensington will become the new Prime Minister. I am maintaining close contact with him, and he endorses our project.”
“What are the odds Kensington will be elected?” asked the president.
“I think it’s eighty/twenty he’ll win.”
The president nodded.
“The French, well, they are the French. Their economy is in shambles, but Prime Minister Aymond remains popular despite his disastrous financial policies…go figure. He’s an ardent nationalist but knows France is rapidly losing its international prestige and can’t afford to maintain its military at its current rather modest level. He’s with us.
“Now, on to the Russians. My discussions have been with Dimitri Gusarov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. President Yenotov’s recent belligerence may hold fascination for the Russian people, but the more prudent politicians are skeptical of his antics. They vividly recall how the Soviet Union spent itself into oblivion trying to respond to Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative. Gusarov doesn’t think Yenotov would have the support for a Russian veto in the Security Council. I make it sixty-five/thirty-five the Russians won’t oppose us.
“As always, the Chinese are an enigma. They’re spending massively on their military buildup and despite their bravado their economy is also shaky. The next recession will devastate their export trade, and they know it. I talked to Liu Qingli, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and he was inconceivably obtuse, evasive and noncommittal. Who the hell knows what they will do? China’s a tossup.”
“Good work, Norma,” said the president.
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