Opinion / Negotiation Technique

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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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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Crawford on Quora

I’ve somehow got sucked into Quora. And in trying to explain it by pasting examples the format here is off #sigh. Quora is a sort of Twittery space for asking and answering questions. You have followers and follow people. Your replies can be upvoted or downvoted and so you create a […]

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Dr Strangelove and North Korea

I’m back at Commentator. This time on missile defence: It’s almost impossible to grasp now. Back in 1962 live nuclear bomb tests were an actual thing. The nuclear powers tested their weapons and raced to develop new ones. There were 178 nuclear explosions around the world that year. Almost one […]

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President Trump v North Korea

President Trump’s UNGA speech had one of the most remarkable passages ever heard in that building: If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength […]

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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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South Africa v Zimbabwe: Grace Mugabe

Mrs Mugabe has got involved in another scandal, this time the alleged beating of a model in a Johannesburg hotel. Should she be given diplomatic immunity to help her return home without prosecution? Yes! Thus: The government source accepted the view widely held by legal experts that Grace Mugabe was not […]

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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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