Opinion / The Law and Legal Issues

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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Diplomatic Negotiating

Here’s my new piece for The Ambassador Partnership Insights series. On the strange world of diplomatic negotiating: In other words, for most negotiating purposes we expect and want the negotiating to end. And it does end. A deal is reached in some sort of reasonable time, or it isn’t. The […]

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Wittgenstein and Chess

Ludwig Wittgenstein! There’s a name for us newbie philosophy fans. Wittgenstein burst into the tranquil Cambridge life of the then mighty philosopher Bertrand Russell and was soon arguing with him intensely about the presence or absence of a rhinoceros in the room. Or was it a hippopotamus? Wittgenstein often used […]

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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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Brexit Adjectives

Ah. Resignations! My latest 7Dnews piece on Brexit is not untimely: We’re at risk of getting washed away by the torrent of Brexit adjectives. Soft Brexit? Hard Brexit! Slow Brexit? Fast Brexit! Furtive Brexit? Bold Brexit! Introspective Brexit? Global Brexit! Flaccid Brexit? Proud Brexit! On 23 June 2016 the British […]

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Poland towards authoritarianism?

Catch it while you can: an edition of BBC World Service radio programme The Real Story that looks at Poland’s current political escapades and features me trying to get a word in edgeways as three Polish experts slug it out on the rule of law and so on. The (very) […]

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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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