Opinion / American Politics

Remembering Alyson Bailes (2)

You’ll recall my tribute to the late Alyson Bailes, perhaps the brainiest diplomat of All Time. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography asked me to write their entry on her, and here it now is as posted today. There’s rightly a strong factual format to these ODNB entries, many of […]

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PS752 – Blown Up Unintentionally?

It’s now clear(er) that Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 was hit by Iranian missiles soon after it took off from Tehran. One line of argument is that this was done ‘unintentionally’ or ‘accidentally’. What might that mean? Consider some options: A bolt of lightning hits the Iranian missile systems, causing […]

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Remembering Lady Thatcher (Again)

To mark the tenth anniversary on 13 January of the unveiling of a portrait of Lady Thatcher, here again is my piece from then about that fine event. It was posted over at the late lamented PunditWire site that has vanished from the Internet * * * * * Several […]

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Suleimani and Rational Actors

Who hasn’t heard about the Knobe Effect? Thus: The “Knobe effect” is the phenomenon where people tend to judge that a bad side effect is brought about intentionally, whereas a good side effect is judged not to be brought about intentionally. The best known cases used to demonstrate the Knobe […]

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Brexit: WGO

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT ponders the mysteries of Brexit: In honour of Brexit, I have invented a fine new international acronym: WGO. Not the World Gangster Organisation. Nor the Women Gender Option. Not even (yet) the Western Gulag Office. WGO stands for the core question that needs to be […]

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Diplomatic Immunity and Anna Sacoolas

Back from my travels. While I was on the road I managed a piece for the Telegraph on the issues surrounding diplomatic immunity in general and the tragic death of Harry Dunn in particular. Thus: The idea of diplomatic immunity goes back two thousand years. The central idea is that […]

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The Philosophy of Diplomacy

Here is my latest DIPLOMAT magazine piece, on applying philosophy to current affairs: Plato posed questions that stay with us today. Is there an ideal way to organise society? How should a society take decisions? How best to ensure that those decisions are wise? For much of the next 2,000 […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (3)

My two previous posts explained some of the ‘internal’ technique issues arising from Sir Kim’s Darroch resignation as UK Ambassador to Washington. How have our leaders dealt with it? Badly. One key moment was the televised debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt as the vie to become the next […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (2)

Imagine that you have invited a friend to stay in your house for a few months. All proceeds nicely. Then suddenly you read in the local papers that your friend has been sending emails to his friends describing in some accurate detail the failings of your house and making sharp, […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (1)

No sooner is my back turned in deep Jersey meeting putative in-laws than a remarkable diplomatic scandal-drama erupts and Sir Kim Darroch ends up resigning as UK Ambassador to the USA. No-one else has analysed all this sensibly, so I must have a shot. In fact several shots in successive […]

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