JENS STOLTENBERG: Pundita, how are you? How is the weather in Washington?
PUNDITA: Greetings Mr Stoltenberg. Congratulations on a very successful summit! I'm now on a do-it-yourself regimen because the last two blood pressure medications nearly killed me. As to the weather here, we have had so much rain for so many days we're trying to raise funds to build an ark.
JS: Global warming.
P: But exactly, which brings me to the subject of my call. The moderate rebels fleeing the Syrian army's advance have taken to blowing up their huge stockpiles of weapons and ammunition rather than have them fall into the hands of SAA. The SAA, as you may know, now has so much captured materiel it can afford to distribute some to Hezbollah and Iranian militias.
JS: An unforeseen consequence. Very counterproductive.
P: Well, not counterproductive for the Syrian military but from NATO's viewpoint, yes. More to the point the bonfires and tons of exploding ammo are putting huge amounts of highly toxic gunk into the atmosphere in the Middle East.
JS: I see. Another unforeseen consequence.
P: Exactly. By the way, have you read Robert Fisk's latest report for the Independent? It was published a few hours ago.
JS: I haven't seen it, no.
P: The title is, quote, "I traced missile casings in Syria back to their original sellers, so it’s time for the west to reveal who they sell arms to, end quote" The lede reads, quote, "I don’t think either Nato or the EU has the slightest interest in chasing the provenance of weapons in the hands of Islamist fighters in Syria or anywhere else in the Middle East," end quote.
JS: I see. Another unforeseen consequence!
P: Would you like me to read you one of the passages from the report that concerns NATO, a short passage?
P: Quote, "Why don’t Nato track all these weapons as they leave Europe and America? Why don’t they expose the real end-users of these deadly shipments? The arms manufacturers I spoke to in the Balkans attested that Nato and the US are fully aware of the buyers of all their machine guns and mortars, end quote.
JS: Which arms manufacturers did he speak with?
P: Um, one was -- give me a moment to look at his earlier report -- BNT-TMiH.
P: Yes, he also spoke with one in Serbia. Begins with a Z, but that's a different report --
P: Something like that, yes.
JS: What is the name of the report concerning the Bosnian factory?
P: Quote, "A Bosnian signs off weapons he says are going to Saudi Arabia – but how did his signature turn up in Aleppo?" End quote.
JS: When was it published?
P: Three days ago. The manager at BNT-TMiH pointed him in the direction of the Saudis. But the people Fisk spoke with made it clear that if the Saudis weren't forthcoming with answers, which they were not, NATO and the EU commission could have answers.
JS: I would need to see all the reports.
P: Frankly I'm surprised that your assistants did not consider them important enough to forward you a summary. They are important reports, Mr Stoltenberg. Robert Fisk foraged in the ruins in East Aleppo and retrieved a trove of hard evidence in the form of paperwork. The evidence is troubling and the implications for NATO embarrassing, I should think.
JS: More unforeseen consequences. Thank you, Pundita.
P: No mention. Au revoir.
[turning in exasperation to Charlotte, who'd been making snuffling noises throughout the call] What?? No I wasn't lying. It wasn't about global warming in the first place, and for all I know Stoltenberg thinks it's a crock. No that's not lying either; it's artistic license. If I can get a word in edgewise I should like to point out there are wrongs other than lying. Like theft -- and I don't want to hear any more about property rights in possum society. Possum law relates to disputes between possums. Quote me the possum code covering charges of theft involving a human and a possum who's been living rent free for years in the human's garage and obtained possession of an item of the human's personal property under false pretenses. Hah! Now who's making things up? I want my Ouija board back.