These clips are not always innocently funny, unfortunately.
Back in 2011, Mark Hemingway put up a transcript of that bit*:
Bernard Woolley: What if the Prime Minister insists we help them?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Then we follow the four-stage strategy.
Bernard Woolley: What’s that?
Sir Richard Wharton: Standard Foreign Office response in a time of crisis.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
Sir Richard Wharton: In stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there’s nothing we *can* do.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now.
I’ll be honest: the sentiments reflected in that clip bothers me more than a little. I’m too much of a sentimentalist for my own good.
PS: Nobody needs to defend their position on Syrian intervention.
*In reference to our Libyan adventure, which of course ended very badly. Just like our upcoming Syrian adventure – and no matter what course we take, looks like.