Opinion / Asia

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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President Trump at UNGA (2)

So how was President Trump’s UNGA speech for you? Opinions are broadly divided: Hostile! Dangerous! Dishonest! Much to like! Let’s look at some of the language itself. In his final address to the UN General Assembly, President Obama used the word nations some 20 times: we can rally our nations to […]

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The UN’s SDGs – Control, not Liberation?

Here is my new piece for Diplomatic Courier in Washington. On The Language of the Sustainable Development Goals. It turned out to be a bit of a slog to find the original SGD texts, but here they are in the UN General Assembly Resolution adopted on 25 September 2015: Right […]

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Russia: The Cost of Ukraine

One of the best ways to spend a dreary UK summer is to play with the World Bank graphs on Google to mix ‘n’ match different countries’ economic performance. Just click on a category and then compare/contrast the results for different countries. This (for example) gives some sense of the cost […]

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Loyalty: Who Whom?

Back sun-tann’d from Ibiza and armed with a new ability to Dab, I’ve been doing my new piece for DIPLOMAT. It looks at the idea of Civilisations. I tripped over this piece about Chinese values in general and as they apply to diplomacy: The cultural values of a country influence […]

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