Opinion / The Art of Diplomacy

The EU and Democratic Legitimacy

As the UK staggers deeper into the Brexit process swamp, things are again bubbling in the Eurozone. To the point of Project Syndicate opining at some length on the core issues. Harvard’s Dani Rodrik asks a pertinent question: How Democratic is the Euro? By joining the euro, Italy surrendered monetary […]

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Trump v North Korea

+ + + Stop Press + + + North and South Korea leaders meet again today. Have armchair pundits ever been so clueless? * * * * * I’ve been opining over at the new 7DNews on the never dull saga of President Trump and the North Korea knot of […]

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Giving a Speech: Who’s Next?

My latest public speaking victim reports from the battlefield: Excellent feed-back from various (incl very critical) people. The speech set the right tone for the conference. The organisers had kindly agreed to let me go last – which made a big difference. Ah! Here the task for Mr X was to […]

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Syria: Red Lines

Take a look at my previous thoughts on Syria and diplomacy. Quite a lot of them. Every pessimistic prediction has been borne out and worse. Remember the long list of Hillary, Obama, Cameron and others who faux-toughly intoned that Assad must go!  They’ve gone. He’s still there. This proclamation, BTW, is […]

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Faux Authenticity

Over on LinkedIn I stumble over Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly (sic) Authentic People. Complete with a picture of a toothsome massively haired young female for added clicks. Thus: To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a […]

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South Africa, CHOGM, History, Brexit

Here’s my latest piece for DIPLOMAT. On apartheid, history and suchlike. Thus: Between 1987 and 1991 as apartheid at last ran out of road, I was First Secretary at the UK Embassy in South Africa. My youthful Embassy colleague was John Sawers, who went on to have a much grander career than […]

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Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

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Skripal: Expelling Spies (Again)

Back in January last year I opined on the negotiation psychology of spy expulsions: It’s of course possible that as part of its New Psychological Approach, Moscow chooses deliberately to work out what everyone expects then not do that. Think about it. You cause the other side to think hard about […]

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Writing a Record of Conversation

One of the darker diplomatic and wider professional arts is writing a record of a conversation. There’s a lot going on here: what to summarise – the words, the context, the ‘tone’, the silences? how in principle to summarise it – should the material be presented in the order it was spoken, […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (4)

You’re all sick of this subject. But via helpful Manfred Rosenbauer on Twitter we get what look like the FCO’s ipsissima verba so why not record them here? This is a Diplomatic Note Verbale. It’s forms of courtly courtesy go back centuries. No-one knows what a Note that is non-Verbale might look like. […]

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