Opinion / Asia

#COVID19 – Endless Lockdown Madness

Back in April as the #lockdown began to bite I wrote about measuring: … What’s the baseline  test in such cases for measuring what categories exist and how our language and practice and laws deal with them? What claims make sense? And so to #COVID19. Might the current lockdown and generalised […]

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Quitting Quora

I previously have mentioned my presence on Quora. I have posted all sorts of things there, one reason why this very blog is now anaemic. But enough is enough. I have (I think) set in motion the deletion of my Quora account and all my now sprawling Quora content. Quora […]

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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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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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Diplomatic Protocol Disasters

Time for a handy round-up of some excellent diplomatic protocol shockers. ‘Protocol’ at the highest level of state and in wider international contexts is interesting because it features all sorts of ‘solemnity’, dignity, respect, deference and other lofty virtues that have their place when the time is right. So when […]

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Wittgenstein, Trust and Diplomacy

Here is my new piece over at DIPLOMAT. On Trust and Diplomacy. With (of course) added Wittgenstein: President Trump is offering Kim Jong Un himself a superb deal based on trust: “If you work with us, be nice, loosen up and get rich, you can expect to stay in power for […]

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Trump v North Korea

+ + + Stop Press + + + North and South Korea leaders meet again today. Have armchair pundits ever been so clueless? * * * * * I’ve been opining over at the new 7DNews on the never dull saga of President Trump and the North Korea knot of […]

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The Logic of Sanctions

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at sanctions. Crime? Punishment! Thus: Back in the day when I was paid to do diplomacy, it was a refreshing if not a bracing bucketful of icy water to hear Russian diplomats talking about their professional discipline. I remember one telling me about a […]

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Dr Strangelove and North Korea

I’m back at Commentator. This time on missile defence: It’s almost impossible to grasp now. Back in 1962 live nuclear bomb tests were an actual thing. The nuclear powers tested their weapons and raced to develop new ones. There were 178 nuclear explosions around the world that year. Almost one […]

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President Trump v North Korea

President Trump’s UNGA speech had one of the most remarkable passages ever heard in that building: If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength […]

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