Opinion / Poland

Who Decides who Decides?

My new piece at DIPLOMAT: Down the ages humans have invented only two ways of running things: Do what I say, or else! The consent of the governed In the first case – the dominant model for most of human history – the ruler’s authority and legitimacy come from 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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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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Brexit: Article 50 Triggered

As I expected, Theresa May and Whitehall wisely took no notice of my thoughts on how best to write the momentous Article 50 letter to EU HQ triggering Brexit. Here is what she sent instead. Some points of interest. She addresses the letter to ‘President’ Tusk. Mr Tusk is president of the European […]

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Writing in English

One of the absolutely hardest things to do is write flawlessly and well in another language. It’s one thing to speak a foreign language to an astonishing level of accuracy and accent, to the point that even native speakers might think you’re one of them. It’s quite another to write […]

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Poland Stands Alone

Remember the noises emanating from Brussels and Warsaw last year over concerns that Poland was slumping away from core European democratic rule-of-law principles? Help! The (sic) Polish Threat to Europe! The European Commission threatened to ‘take action’ against Poland because Warsaw under the Law and Justice party was changing the […]

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Interfering Ambassadors

Trump! Russians! Russian ambassador! Trump! In all this hubbub about who did or did not ‘meet the Russian ambassador’ in Washington and when and why, let’s look at what diplomats actually do before an election in a country to which they’re posted. When an election looms, diplomats get a little […]

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Oscars Fiasco? Details!

NOTE My first version of this post had an irrelevant and (it turns out!) wrong explanation of a protocol calamity perpetrated by the British Embassy in Warsaw during The Queen’s State Visit. That passage now removed! + + + UPDATE + + + More gory details are emerging. Never underestimate […]

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Russia and Montenegro: What’s Ours?

My latest piece for the Telegraph (££) opines on the startling news that Russian intelligence agents have been found to be implicated in a plot to kill former Montenegro Prime Minister Milo Djukanović last year: The Kremlin has strongly denied any involvement, and the Montenegrin special prosecutor has publically stopped […]

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