Opinion / Asia

The Logic of Sanctions

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at sanctions. Crime? Punishment! Thus: Back in the day when I was paid to do diplomacy, it was a refreshing if not a bracing bucketful of icy water to hear Russian diplomats talking about their professional discipline. I remember one telling me about a […]

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Dr Strangelove and North Korea

I’m back at Commentator. This time on missile defence: It’s almost impossible to grasp now. Back in 1962 live nuclear bomb tests were an actual thing. The nuclear powers tested their weapons and raced to develop new ones. There were 178 nuclear explosions around the world that year. Almost one […]

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President Trump v North Korea

President Trump’s UNGA speech had one of the most remarkable passages ever heard in that building: If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength […]

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President Trump at UNGA (2)

So how was President Trump’s UNGA speech for you? Opinions are broadly divided: Hostile! Dangerous! Dishonest! Much to like! Let’s look at some of the language itself. In his final address to the UN General Assembly, President Obama used the word nations some 20 times: we can rally our nations to […]

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The UN’s SDGs – Control, not Liberation?

Here is my new piece for Diplomatic Courier in Washington. On The Language of the Sustainable Development Goals. It turned out to be a bit of a slog to find the original SGD texts, but here they are in the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted on 25 September 2015: Right […]

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Russia: The Cost of Ukraine

One of the best ways to spend a dreary UK summer is to play with the World Bank graphs on Google to mix ‘n’ match different countries’ economic performance. Just click on a category and then compare/contrast the results for different countries. This (for example) gives some sense of the cost […]

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Loyalty: Who Whom?

Back sun-tann’d from Ibiza and armed with a new ability to Dab, I’ve been doing my new piece for DIPLOMAT. It looks at the idea of Civilisations. I tripped over this piece about Chinese values in general and as they apply to diplomacy: The cultural values of a country influence […]

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Diplomacy and North Korea

I’ve been busy latterly. Hence this article over at Telegraph Premium (££) on North Korea and its missiles. Maybe you’re too mean or too poor to pay for that? Here are some highlights: Pyongyang has one Great Demand: achieving global acknowledgement/status. Since 2003 when it left the Non-Proliferation Treaty framework […]

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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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Negotiating with North Korea

I’ve written here previously about the issues of negotiating with North Korea. See eg this. Or this. Things have moved on. President Trump appears to be keen not be seen as ‘diplomatic’ as President Obama. Can containable military action be taken against North Korea to stop it developing nuclear weapons? […]

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