Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

The Politics of Decompression

My latest piece for DIPLOMAT explores how Optimists, Pessimists and Cynics view options for helping a grotty dictatorship (say the dismal state of Sibya) move to something rather better. Back in the mists of 2016, I shared with Diplomat readers my thoughts on bad leaders: “Yes, we were wicked. But hey, look […]

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Is Negotiation Dishonest?

This odd question appeared over on Quora today. It prompted the following exchange with me and a passing Quoran posing follow-up questions (edited for simplicity). Full version here. Is Negotiation Dishonest by Default? No. It’s possible to be a dishonest negotiator. But when haggling over a price (‘This is my […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (2)

My previous post rehearsed some of the existential issues about the Serbia/Kosovo problem and mooted the idea of tweaking borders to help achieve a deal. Let’s look at this in more detail. Factors to bear in mind as my mind in-bears them. Where to draw lines? Post-WW2 Yugoslavia had six […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (1)

+++ World Scoop +++ Here’s extended/edited extracts from a long piece I first sent to the FCO from faraway Harvard back in Spring 1998 as the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia concluded. It was revised after Milošević fell. It still reads rather well, if I say so myself. See my […]

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NATO, Montenegro, Russia, Ukraine

My latest piece for the Telegraph (££) looks at what if anything President Trump might have meant when he was asked on TV about NATO and Montenegro. Here’s the exchange: CARLSON: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined […]

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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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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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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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