Opinion / Middle East, Arab Spring

That Trump Speech in Poland

What was President Trump’s speech in Poland really saying? Views differ. Even though anyone listening to the speech might think that Trump pushed back hard against Putin in the speech, it was a stunning victory for Putin: The initial reaction to the speech was far more positive than to his previous attempt […]

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President Trump Visits Poland

I appear (as if by magic) on CNN International Edition to opine on President Trump’s visit to Poland. You want sweeping outlandish generalisations? Here they are. Many “Western Europeans” are comfortable with largely secular, post-modern, liberal-technocratic integration that dilutes national identity. Indeed, for some European federalists, diluting national identity is not […]

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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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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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Why Must Assad Go?

Nigel Farage poses an interesting question: if Syria’s President Assad ‘goes’, who or what replaces him? Could the next Syria leader or ensuing chaos be even worse than what we have now? This takes us straight to our old friend Bad Leaders: Other Bad Leaders, such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, […]

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Trump v Putin: Negotiation in Action

Yesterday’s meetings in Moscow between US Secretary of State Tillerson and President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov were a front-rank example of top diplomacy in action, the more so as while that was happening intense discussions continued at the UN over a new (doomed) Syria UNSC resolution that Russia duly […]

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Syria and Diplomacy

Remember this one about President Obama’s speech on Syria in 2013? Thus: The real risk in President Obama’s new approach is this. The protracted painstaking negotiation needed to set up a credible international monitoring and destruction regime for Syria’s CW stocks will give Assad and his state apparatus a massive […]

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Brexit; Article 50 Triggered (2)

So. The deed is done. The UK government has respected the 2016 #Brexit UK referendum result and set in motion negotiations (a) to effect the UK’s departure from the European Union, and (b) to create a new UK/EU relationship to replace it. Blimey. This will drag on, in some respects […]

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Balkan Borders (1)

Here is my former colleague (ex-ambassador to Belgrade, Dublin and Rome) Sir Ivor Roberts opining on Balkan borders: Sir Ivor said that while multi-ethnic states might be the ideal, in practice the exchange of the Presevo Valley in Serbia for land in Kosovo north of the river Ibar might be […]

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