Opinion / Negotiation Technique

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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Assange is Not a Diplomat (3)

Over at Craig Murray, one John Spencer-Davis has been arguing with me re J Assange’s diplomatic status: Let’s deal first with your point about Article 38 – I have already answered it, but you may have missed that. “Except insofar as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the receiving […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat

He’s still there. An increasingly greasy Julian Assange lurks on in the twilight world of the Ecuador Embassy in London. Along comes a new idea for Ecuador to try. Make him an Ecuador citizen and appoint him an Ecuador diplomat, then the Brits will have to allow him to leave as […]

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Poland v EU (Continued)

Poland continues to Stand Alone (or not, as the case may be) in its arguments with Brussels over different Polish rule of law issues. Here is a handy summary by Aleks Szczerbiak on what’s going on and what it means for Polish politics: At the end of December, in a […]

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Do You Want Our Money?

Back in November I wrote about the logic and reality of sanctions: One last genre of sanctions is ‘conditionality’. Yes, we’ll give you development assistance, but on conditions. One of which is that if you use our assistance to promote extremism we’ll stop supporting you. This issue comes up periodically […]

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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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