Opinion / The Law and Legal Issues

The Diplomacy of Assange

My new piece at DIPLOMAT looks at the practical diplomatic options open to Julian Assange as he peers out of the window of the Ecuador embassy in London and tries to see the sky: Right at the heart of diplomacy is a simple idea: good manners. To be precise, the […]

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Faux-Diplomacy (2)

My post below on the proliferation of useless ‘diplomacies’ prompts Shaun Riordan into further action: … Simply asking what diplomats do, and then assigning the title of diplomat to anyone else doing it (or describing as “diplomacy” anything where people are doing diplomat-like things) won’t wash. Many people gather information, […]

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The Rise of Faux-Diplomacy

Remember how to train your diplomat? Thus: Busy new areas of Diplomatic Theory are being invented by the social science industrial complex.  Diplomacy is sliced and diced to create new specialities and plump research grant opportunities. Economic Diplomacy. Commercial Diplomacy. Climate Diplomacy. Once these new specialities float off as part […]

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Grenfell Towers? Meet Venezuela

Suitably anonymous @_BossGoose opines on Twitter re my previous posting on causation, responsibility and the Grenfell Towers catastrophe: Boss Goose‏ Is your suggested course of action basically “some of us will live through (nearly) any disaster, so, fuck it, let the market decide”? S/he goes further: Boss Goose‏ This may be […]

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Grenfell Tower – What Caused What?

The Grenfell Tower fire was a horrendous … what exactly? Accident? An ‘accident waiting to happen’? A ‘result of (gross) negligence’? A ‘consequence of austerity’? A ‘failure of capitalism’? The state doesn’t CARE: The stories are unbearable: the people screaming at the windows, the parents throwing their children from several floors […]

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Being Honest With Your Boss

A really difficult and sensitive issue in ‘management’ and ‘leadership’: how do junior colleagues tell senior colleagues that they’re (perhaps) not getting it right? One of my own most powerful life lessons on this came back in the early 1980s when I was a mere Second Secretary at the British […]

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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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ZOPA and Win-Win Negotiation

Rummage around in the acronym bran-tub of negotiation theory and you might well pull out ZOPA: the Zone of Possible Agreement. See a visualisation of that idea here. The idea of ZOPA is simple. Alex wants to buy a car. Blex has one to sell: Alex is ready to pay […]

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Democracy and Technology

As well as the usual UK post-election party political wailing or gloating and general spinning, deeper things are going on. Here’s my theory. Namely that technology is making democratic government itself harder and harder. Eventually impossible? Think about it. Information technology in its current galloping form erodes categories, everywhere and […]

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Slaves and Whips

As this country totters towards its latest general elections amid successive Islamist terrorist murders, let’s look at the towering ‘speech’ (in fact the systematic private demolition of another erstwhile ‘friend, Peter Keating) by Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead. Most of it is here. Thus: If you learn how to rule one […]

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