For All Nails, pt. 168: Pound Diplomacy
By Henrik Kiertzner
3 January 1975
1400 hours GMT
The Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street
The Secretary to the Cabinet walked into the Prime Minister's office, his
"Prime Minister, we have received a response from the CNA via the M.A. at
the High Commission."
"Excellent. In what form?"
"A verbal message, passed through General O Cellaigh."
"And it says...?"
"Um. It is curt to the point of outright rudeness. The text, as dictated,
is: 'The Governor General of the CNA is grateful for the advance warning
of the aggressive intent of the United Empire and its associates, counsels
these Powers against intervention in a Hemisphere not their own and urges
His Majesty's Government to reflect upon the historical links between our
great nation and the United Empire, the enormous debt of gratitude which
Britain, in particular, should feel towards the CNA for its assistance
during the late conflict and, finally, the extent to which the Imperial
Monetary Fund is maintained in credit by direct subvention from the CNA.'
Not altogether a helpful message, one fears."
Sir Geoffrey Gold leaned back in his chair, tapping his fingertips
together in an unconscious mannerism. He shut his eyes briefly, his
expression impassive. He remained perfectly still for thirty seconds or so
before leaning forward again and opening his eyes.
"Call a full Cabinet for four o'clock. Full attendance, no excuses. I need
you, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister for War, the Chief of the
Imperial General Staff and the Chancellor of the Exchequer at three
"As you wish, Prime Minister."
Gold nodded abstractedly and turned to look out into the bleak back garden
of Number 10 Downing Street. There was a bedraggled pigeon perched on the
leafless branch of one of the elm trees, he noticed, its silhouette black
against the pale oyster grey of the winter sky.
1510 hours GMT - The Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street
"So, we can stipulate that the CNA is in a position to do some harm to our
economy. We depend to a limited extent upon the confidence which the
backing of the IMF gives us as an element of collateral in international
trade, to a slightly lesser extent upon the shared revenue from joint
military projects and to a minimal extent upon the limited range of
imports of luxury and consumer goods we allow from the CNA?"
"Precisely so, Prime Minister."
"So, in an ideal world, had we some alternative source of financial
support for our economy, we should be effectively isolated from any
potential ill effects of a CNA embargo?"
"Oh, assuredly. In fact, such an embargo, involving as it would have to, a
withdrawal of both our overt cooperation and our covert support for the
CNA Armed Forces' retraining programme, would certainly annoy the CNA more
than us. However, in the absence of such a fairy godmother...."
"Mmmm. Mmmmm. What of the military balance? Jock?
Field Marshall the Viscount Cawdor GCB ("Jock" to his friends), the Chief
of the Imperial General Staff, was not a voluble man. He raised an eyebrow
and lit his pipe before replying.
"Well, Prime Minister. The correlation of forces is at first sight not
reasonable. The CNA is a large continental power in the Western
hemisphere, with an effective air arm and an efficient Navy. Its Army is
numerous and well-equipped. That said, its staff techniques are primitive,
its cadre of commanders lacks experience, polish and sophistication, its
Ground Forces are large but poorly-led and not trained in anything larger
than unit-level operations and its combat experience is entirely in
peacekeeping against its own or in the debacle in Porto Rico.  Our
Navy, in conjunction with our Scandinavian friends and our ... unexpected
new friends from across the Channel, can certainly clear the Caribbean and
the North Atlantic of their major combat units, our air arm, again with
our friends, can sweep the skies over our forces clean of their aviation
and we can certainly deal with any land forces they chose to project
outside the North American continent with all despatch. We can not
invade North America, of course."
"Nor would we ever want to. This is in the nature of a row in the nursery,
rather than a fight, I think. Would the CNA military be aware of this?"
"Most certainly. We have been telling them ever since Porto Rico what is
wrong and have only just begun teaching them how to what is right."
"Thank you, Jock."
1625 hours GMT - The Cabinet Room, 10 Downing Street
"....so, ladies and gentlemen, that is the position. I will now ask you
all, individually, to endorse my request for 24 hours' breathing space to
consult elsewhere before we reconvene to take a final view of our
1707 hours GMT - The Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street
"Pray connect me with the Embassy of the Republic of Taiwan. I wish to
speak in confidence with the Commercial Attache."
"Certainly, Sir Geoffrey. One moment."
 The island officially known as "Boricua."