Opinion / Communism, Fascism and Other Extremes

President Trump at UNGA (1)

President Trump has given his first UNGA speech. Transcript here. Watch him in full here. These annual UNGA speeches are strange affairs. Typically bland, dull, formulaic, packed with self-important platitudes. No-one cares. That’s why when a leader says or does something drastically not like that, it gets noticed. The late […]

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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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Civilisations indeed Clashing?

My latest piece for DIPLOMAT looks at some rather, er, basic issues. Namely the idea of civilisation(s). As raised by President Trump in his speech in Warsaw: President Trump’s speech helpfully gave a long list of Western values and practices: The world has never known anything like our community of […]

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Asgardia: Philosophy and Society

My new Best Thing are the philosophy podcasts over at The Partially Examined Life. Three genial Americans who know more than a few things about philosophy (but come at it from rather different personal places) talk in depth in each episode about different philosophers and their ideas. Try, for example, […]

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So, Farewell Then PunditWire

PunditWire is shutting up shop: As with all good things, it’s time to bid PunditWire adieu. We will be ceasing operations on August 31, which means we no longer will be publishing new content on our site. PunditWire won’t vanish — to those of you who want access to the […]

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Assange and Oppression

Anything on this website containing the word Assange is handily gathered here. There’s quite a lot. But my musings are as naught compared to the new piece on Mr A by Raffi Khatchadourian in the New Yorker. Fair’s fair. When American journalists are let loose on a big subject they deliver […]

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Building Peace in Bosnia

Right. Here is a major contribution by me to the oral history of the modern Balkans, in the form of a discussion with Susan Coleman of The Peace Building Podcast. Susan and I met when we did some training workshops for senior Afghan women in Tajikistan last year. Susan is […]

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Diplomacy, Stupidity, Accuracy

Here I am at Majalla magazine, interviewed by top Arabic journalist Nadia Turki. Thus: What skills do diplomats need to be effective and avoid making embarrassing mistakes? A subtle question. Diplomacy hates taking risks! The ideas of ‘stability’ and ‘predictability’ are right at the heart of the way countries deal with […]

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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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