And as the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia disappeared from the map, it became clear he was right.
On the Guardian website (and I assume in tomorrow's paper) Paddy Ashdown suggests that a similar process is now taking place in the Middle East:
What is happening in the Middle East, like it or not, is the wholesale rewriting of the Sykes-Picot borders of 1916, in favour of an Arab world whose shapes will be arbitrated more by religious dividing lines than the old imperial conveniences of 100 years ago.As part of these changes, Paddy foresees the Kurds in northern Iraq (bolstered by Western aid) breaking away to form an independent state.
When I was secretary of York Liberal Students around 1979-80 we had a recruiting leaflet. One of the causes it backed was an independent state for the Kurds.
This policy had been inherited from officers who had since left university, but we kept it on the leaflet - even if none of us could have pointed to where Kurdistan would be on a map.
Whoever wrote that leaflet probably envisaged Kurdistan breaking away from Turkey rather than Iraq, but I thought of it when I read Paddy's article.