• 2005: No 3905


    Competition No 3905

    The Oracle of Delphi gives advice to today’s public figures.


    When Harry Truman was christened, a fairy appeared and pronounced: “Never fight a land war in Asia”. In 1953, when three years of destructive war in Korea had left the boundaries where they were at the start, the fairy reappeared and asked Truman why he had disregarded her advice. “That wasn’t a war,” said Truman, “it was a United Nations operation.”

    The same fairy appeared at Lyndon Johnson’s baptism, with the same message. In 1968, with the USA humiliated in Vietnam and in turmoil at home, the fairy reappeared with the same question. Johnson replied: “That was meant to be an air war, but the devious bastards dug underground tunnels.”

    The fairy was at George W Bush’s christening too. In autumn 2005, as he faced isolation from the population, the fairy appeared and asked why he had ignored her message. “What!” exclaimed Bush. “Nobody told me Iraq was in Asia”.