Opinion / Middle East, Arab Spring

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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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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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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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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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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