Chatham House, otherwise known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), was set up in 1923 by a philanthropic couple in London. Originally intended as a brains trust for the promotion of the British Empire, the RIIA these is concerned mostly with devising ways of increasing the influence of the UK in various parts of the world. Much of its work is admirable. This columnist visited Chatham House only once, and that was a decade ago. Memories linger of a stately structure and of the scholars within it, who were attentive and courteous even while hearing a point of view that differed substantially from those held by them. Neither side was converted to the other’s after the exchange, but the afternoon passed pleasantly, and the conversation was often “frank” but always within the boundaries of friendly dissent. Having a view different from that of the prevalent view in Chatham House was not seen by its members as a capital offence or even a misdemeanour, it simply reflected different shades of the tapestry that constitutes genuine enquiry. Since then, the world outside Chatham House has become somewhat less respectful of points of view other than what those who are listening consider to be correct. Hopefully such a change has yet to penetrate through the walls of the RIIS, and that those having contrarian views are still welcomed inside for a chat over a bit of tea.