Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

Chess and Diplomacy

My latest DIPLOMAT piece looks at the similarities (or not) between chess and diplomacy: One cliché of diplomacy is that it is like chess. It combines patient strategic manoeuvring with sudden flashes of sharp decisive action. In chess, as in diplomacy, there is ‘objective’ strength: political and economic assets and […]

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President Trump’s Inaugural Speech

Here’s a brief take on President Trump’s inaugural speech that I wrote for The Ambassador Partnership’s Insight series: The inaugural address of a new US President typically answers two questions: What and How. First, to set down unambiguous policy markers: to spell out in broad but more or less specific […]

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Theresa May’s Philadelphia Speech

Here is the official text of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s well received speech to senior Republicans in Philadelphia. And, if you want to see how she delivered it, here she is: This speech has had unusual profile. Mrs May is the first foreign leader to meet President Trump at […]

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Sir Tim Barrow: Optimism v Pessimism

My new piece over at Telegraph Opinion on the appointment of Sir Tim Barrow as UK Ambassador to the EU (maybe ££): Final passages: Much commentary about Sir Ivan’s departure has focused on this strange passage in his message to UKRep colleagues, self-evidently written with speedy wider public readership in mind: “I […]

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Expelling Spies: Negotiation Psychology

Way back in 2009 I wrote a piece for DIPLOMAT about the lore and logic of expelling diplomats, usually for spying. The Internet has eaten it, but here are some extracts: You know the story. Only too well. Your spouse yells at you for what you have done. Or for […]

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Cold War 2.0: Obama, Putin, Trump

Here is a link (££) to my latest Telegraph piece on the Obama expulsion of Russian diplomats. In case (like me!) you can’t access it, some highlights of what I sent them: It’s safe to say that President Obama and his team knew little about Russia before the President visited […]

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Back in the NHS (3)

Happy New Year to one and all. I have been busy trundling to and fro to NHS hospitals. My mother is not so well. See earlier accounts here: Above all, I am humbled by the diligence shown by the nursing staff as they try to keep their designated batch of […]

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Amazon Space: Trust Between Strangers

When I rebooted my website a while back, I took out my 2008 thoughts on Amazon Space and the human and operational limits to Trust. Let’s get it back here. It still reads nicely enough (Wait … huh? What’s a PDA?). The screams of Aleppo are now coming directly into […]

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From Kaliningrad to Mladićgrad

DIPLOMAT has my latest article, featuring the final cable I sent to London from Warsaw as I ended my FCO career in autumn 2007. Once upon a time there were Valedictory Despatches. The Despatch was an interesting diplomatic genre, an extended essay sent by an Ambassador that looked more deeply/thematically […]

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So, Farewell Then Fidel Castro

While basking on the sunny South Carolina beaches I took time out to write a piece for National Interest on the death of Fidel Castro and how different world leaders drafted their respective statements: The Castro case is unusually tricky. There’s no denying that he was a person of international […]

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