Opinion / American Politics

History and Diplomacy

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at history: … After you’ve made your weary way around planet earth for some six decades, you start to grasp that beneath the torrent of events, there lie deep trends and rhythms. Take, for example, those YouTube videos of the changing map of Europe. […]

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Brexit and Speeches

Here is a quite splendid and magisterial view of the rise and rise of Brexit as seen through many different speeches down the decades, written by John O’Sullivan. John has been tackling this question ever since the UK joined the EU. He has form: I first became a Brexiteer (or, […]

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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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