Opinion / European Union and Wider Europe

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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Catalonia and First Principles

As one might have expected, the Catalonia problem is getting problematic. Spain HQ aka Madrid is gearing up to take away Catalonia’s powers in some sort of direct rule power-play. No rebellions allowed! After an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday morning, Rajoy said he was invoking article 155 of the […]

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Daphne Caruana Galizia

Back in 2010 I had some exciting adventures in Malta. That put me for a while in e-touch with the amusing indomitable Daphne Caruana Galizia – a journalist/writer who walloped all and any nonsense she found in Malta’s intricate goings-on. And she found plenty to wallop. Indeed we met in […]

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Catalonia – Your Questions Answered

Baffled by the goings-on in Catalonia? I answer your basic questions. Can Catalonia be an independent country? In principle, why not? It has a population of some 7.5 million people, so as an independent state it would be comfortably in the top half of the world’s country population league rankings […]

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What Food is Your Speech?

I seem to have been sucked in to answering questions on Quora. Many about public speaking in all its forms. But other stuff too. Oddly addictive. I’ve been asked by someone to help with a couple of significant speeches. Apart from the squalid business of the fee *coughs* there is the […]

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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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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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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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