20 questions with executive director of The Henry Jackson Society Dr. Alan Mendoza
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
Stretching the boundaries of the possible.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
“Incompetent until proven competent”.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2013?
Gladiator sandals and Twitter abuse. If wearing the former while conducting the latter, doubly so.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
My childhood cat. He died when he reached the ripe old age of 17½.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Working for an educational charity, it probably wouldn’t get me very much. But, in fantasyland, a world where liberal democracy held sway because all else good would follow.
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
Oligopoly isn’t capitalism. Adam Smith would have been horrified by the state of our financial system in the mid 2000s.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
“With all due respect”: Which does of course mean “I’m going to be extremely rude now but prefacing it with this phrase will make it all OK”.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
It’s very important to look after your nearest and dearest – there are no prizes for allowing the state to do so if you can help. But do we give enough here? Probably not at the higher levels of the wealth chain, particularly when you compare with the rude health of American philanthropy. I personally support a basket of care, health and educational charities.
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
You can’t turn back time and pretend the tech revolution will disappear. Social norms will have to change as a consequence.
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
As tempting as it would be to name a collection of the “great and the good”, if going on holiday, preference must always be given to family and friends. At least you know you can survive the inevitable fallouts.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
A Black Angus 18oz filet steak, cooked medium rare, eaten somewhere overlooking the Bay of Naples as the sunset takes place.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
If working, 5pm. Except if meeting an ambassador. In which case, whenever the first bottle appears.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
A cup of tea.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
Assorted nieces and nephews. There is nothing like watching children grow up. And sometimes you have to wear an animal costume to amuse the young guests. An animal costume… What could be more fun?
Who is the most positive person you know?
My father. Positive even when all reality suggests otherwise.
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
I will make a significant diversion in my travel plans in order to get a Pinkberry fro-yo from Selfridges. When will they open up other branches?
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
I fundamentally disagree with tattoos.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
Any 4×4. I like taking the untrodden path.
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
I play games on my iPad. Everyone thinks I’m too serious for such frivolity.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
Family photos, a stack of half-read books, cards from my recent birthday and the manual to a PowerPlate machine that appears destined never to be used.
Dr. Alan Mendoza is a founder and the executive director of the British think tank The Henry Jackson Society and president of the Henry Jackson Initiative. He is also chief advisor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic & International Security and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security, a board member of the British-American Project, and a member of the advisory board of the Electric Infrastructure Security Council, and of Bright Blue.
Follow him on Twitter @alanmendoza
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Alan is a very serious fellow. But a delightful bloke!