Opinion / The Art of Diplomacy

Who Decides who Decides?

My new piece at DIPLOMAT: Down the ages humans have invented only two ways of running things: Do what I say, or else! The consent of the governed In the first case – the dominant model for most of human history – the ruler’s authority and legitimacy come from the […]

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Starting a Speech (Continued)

My post on the (ab)use of quotations in speeches prompted this comment from always alert reader Nigel Sedgwick: Charles is IMHO likely amongst the very best current advisors on speechmaking. But I must challenge him on a bit of material missing from his latest offering. The word spoken and heard […]

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Negotiating Brexit: May v Corbyn

Responding to my post on Craig Murray’s footling criticism of Theresa May’s negotiating capabilities, reader Benjamin writes: You note the importance of a clear plan in long-term negotiations. Is anybody aware what May’s plan is, or whether she even has one? You mention that different cultures call for different negotiating […]

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President Trump Saudi Speech

Here is my piece for Vital Speeches analysing President Trump’s major foreign policy speech in Saudi Arabia, comparing it to the rambling didactic speech by President Obama in Cairo in 2009. Key opening point: This speech is 3402 words long. The Obama speech in 2009 had a sprawling 6050 words […]

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Theresa May – Brexit Negotiatrix

Can Theresa May expect to be good at the Brexit negotiations? Not according to our old friend Craig Murray: In fact she would be an appalling negotiator. She becomes completely closed off when contradicted. She is incapable of thinking on her feet. She is undoubtedly the worst performer at Prime […]

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Assange – Not Out

Julian Assange is free at last to leave the Ecuador embassy in London, now that the Swedish authorities have dropped charges against him. Hurrah. Or not, as the case may be: “Today is an important victory for me and for the UN’s human rights system but it by no means […]

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Sharing Intelligence

Eeek. Disaster. Scandal. President Trump personally shared highly classified intelligence information with the RUSSIANS! Thus: In the meeting last week, Mr. Trump told Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, details about the Islamic State plot, including the city in Syria where the […]

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SIS4 – Iraq Inquiry

I found myself reading again the testimony of MI6 officer SIS4 to the Iraq Inquiry. The full text is here. Lots of his testimony is blacked out for operational security reasons. But there’s plenty left. It’s interesting as a rare example of someone with both huge experience and a dark […]

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Brexit Outcomes: All Change?

Lots of media huffing/puffing about the way the early stages of the #Brexit negotiations are unfolding, with menacing noises emerging from EU HQ: The UK must pay for an exit ticket! Pay LOTS! And if it doesn’t agree to pay, no talks on the future deal. Maybe no deal! It’s […]

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Brexit Election

Two grisly phenomena dominate the UK news for the time being. The UK general election, and UK/EU Brexit negotiation skirmishes. Are they by some chance related? As of early May (sic), the Conservatives look set to do well and Labour badly. The UK Labour Party is now more decay than corpse, […]

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