Opinion

Public Speaking – Where to Start?

So there I was, giving a cheery masterclass in public speaking and presenting to international officials from different parts of the wide UN family. And I made an early fateful mistake. I asked them: “You’re asked to prepare a speech for your boss – where do you start?” A hand shot […]

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Philosophy

Blimey. Nothing here since mid-September. What’s happened? I’ve been running around from Austria to South Africa to Turin to Armenia to Austria to Netherlands and finally to Scotland. One fine masterclass after another. When I’m travelling like this my creative writing juices dry up. Plus I’ve been grappling with my philosophy […]

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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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Diplomatic Negotiating (2)

My second piece on diplomatic negotiating is now out, over at AP Insights. The first one was here. Thus: Russia and Poland for centuries have been negotiating through war and peace over their borders and cultures. Wary rivalry between England and France has been carrying on since the Battle of Hastings […]

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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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