It is a bad outcome. A good man has been denied a post which he would have done well. In these perilous times, Nato needs a first-class Secretary-General. Ben Wallace would have filled that role, and there is no other obvious candidate.

So why did this happen? There is a simple answer. An incompetent leader was abetted by an unworthy one. In both cases, their performance was almost criminally irresponsible. When Joe Biden was Vice-President, he often had cordial meetings with senior members of David Cameron’s government. There might be a certain amount of joshing on the subject of Ireland, with Biden claiming to believe that Hibernia had been a nation of saints, scholars and beautiful colleens until the wicked Anglo-Saxons introduced original sin.