Opinion / Negotiation Technique

Brexit Adjectives

Ah. Resignations! My latest 7Dnews piece on Brexit is not untimely: We’re at risk of getting washed away by the torrent of Brexit adjectives. Soft Brexit? Hard Brexit! Slow Brexit? Fast Brexit! Furtive Brexit? Bold Brexit! Introspective Brexit? Global Brexit! Flaccid Brexit? Proud Brexit! On 23 June 2016 the British […]

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Mysterious Enigmatic Russia

My latest DIPLOMAT piece ponders the mysteries of Russia: One excellent way for diplomats to understand Europe and its history is to look at a YouTube video that demonstrates how borders have changed in this part of the world over the past 1000 years or so. For the first few […]

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SCOTUS: Who Decides Who Decides?

The furious noise over a new nomination by President Trump to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is all about a subject familiar to readers here. Namely the two basic issues in politics or indeed wider life: Who decides? Who decides who decides? If X is tasked to Decide, the person […]

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The EU and Democratic Legitimacy

As the UK staggers deeper into the Brexit process swamp, things are again bubbling in the Eurozone. To the point of Project Syndicate opining at some length on the core issues. Harvard’s Dani Rodrik asks a pertinent question: How Democratic is the Euro? By joining the euro, Italy surrendered monetary […]

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Trump v North Korea

+ + + Stop Press + + + North and South Korea leaders meet again today. Have armchair pundits ever been so clueless? * * * * * I’ve been opining over at the new 7DNews on the never dull saga of President Trump and the North Korea knot of […]

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Syria: Red Lines

Take a look at my previous thoughts on Syria and diplomacy. Quite a lot of them. Every pessimistic prediction has been borne out and worse. Remember the long list of Hillary, Obama, Cameron and others who faux-toughly intoned that Assad must go!  They’ve gone. He’s still there. This proclamation, BTW, is […]

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South Africa, CHOGM, History, Brexit

Here’s my latest piece for DIPLOMAT. On apartheid, history and suchlike. Thus: Between 1987 and 1991 as apartheid at last ran out of road, I was First Secretary at the UK Embassy in South Africa. My youthful Embassy colleague was John Sawers, who went on to have a much grander career than […]

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Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

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Skripal: Expelling Spies (Again)

Back in January last year I opined on the negotiation psychology of spy expulsions: It’s of course possible that as part of its New Psychological Approach, Moscow chooses deliberately to work out what everyone expects then not do that. Think about it. You cause the other side to think hard about […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (4)

You’re all sick of this subject. But via helpful Manfred Rosenbauer on Twitter we get what look like the FCO’s ipsissima verba so why not record them here? This is a Diplomatic Note Verbale. It’s forms of courtly courtesy go back centuries. No-one knows what a Note that is non-Verbale might look like. […]

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