Opinion / Negotiation Technique

Much More EU: That 2020 Budget Negotiation

Surely the EU was going to use its massive new COVID19/Budget negotiations to spank ill-behaved Hungary and Poland for their persistent rule-of-law failings? After all, surely you don’t get lots of EU money without sticking tightly to basic rules? Seems not! Hungary and Poland arguably emerge as the biggest winners. […]

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Hungary v Brussels

Veteran readers here (if any such still exist) will recall my Basic Theory Of Explaining Almost Everything, namely that for any issue only two questions matter: Who decides? Who decides who decides? See eg this DIPLOMAT article looking at Bosnia, Brexit, migration, UN Security Council reform and other big topics […]

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Bosnia – 25 Years On

Here’s a discussion on TRT World (Turkish World Service of sorts) on Bosnia, 25 years after the Srebrenica massacre. I’m one of the pundits, joined by Denis Dzidic and Florian Bieber both making plenty of sense: The sub-questions included: Is there peace in the Balkans? How long will the Dayton […]

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Dead Cats Matter

This piece was first posted at the now defunct US website PunditWire. I had a lot of good stuff there, now lost to civilisation. So I’ll repost updated versions of some of my pieces here, to let them linger on the Internet a while longer. This one on ‘framing’ is […]

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Chess and Sportsmanship

Remember this one from 2011 on India’s cricketing sportsmanship? The amazing thing here was that at this point of the match, Bell was crushing the Indian bowling and had turned the whole match strongly in England’s favour. So to allow him to continue when the Indians could easily have said […]

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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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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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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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