Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

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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Faux Authenticity

Over on LinkedIn I stumble over Ten Unmistakable Habits of Utterly (sic) Authentic People. Complete with a picture of a toothsome massively haired young female for added clicks. Thus: To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a […]

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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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Starting a Speech by Being Funny

This is my most popular answer on Quora with over 20,000 views, replying to an interesting question: What is the funniest opening line that you have heard (or said) in a public speech? Hmm. Right Ho, Jeeves “Boys,” said Gussie, “I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I do not […]

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Assange is Not a Diplomat (2)

+++ UPDATE +++ I have changed my mind about the A38 point mentioned below. See my next posting here. * * * * *  Craig Murray (of course) weighs in in favour of Ecuador’s apparent claim (or at least request) that J Assange is now an Ecuador diplomat entitled to […]

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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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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 – 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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