Opinion / Negotiation Technique

That Boring War in Ukraine: Who’s to Blame?

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT magazine is all about European insecurity: Very broadly speaking, throughout the Cold War years the ‘West’ and the USSR dealt with each other within a policy framework nicknamed MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. The risk of mutual annihilation if a nuclear weapons exchange broke out was […]

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Ukraine v Russia: MAD or Big MAC

I’m so old that I can remember the Cold War and the nuclear deterrence doctrine called MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. This was the simple idea that if country R launched a major nuclear missile attack on country A, country A would do the same against country R. And they’d both […]

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Ukraine v Russia: The Logic of Punishment

Back in 2019 I wrote a piece for DIPLOMAT on how diplomacy defines and rewards success. It concluded with this striking thought: Why has the word ‘judgement’ been removed from its erstwhile pride of place in the FCO’s staff appraisal procedures? It features a mere four times in that rambling Civil […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Negotiations (2)

My previous post here opined on the broad features of any eventual ‘negotiations’ between Ukraine and Russia: One of the really key ideas in any negotiation between parties involved in a military conflict is this: You never win more at the negotiation table than you control on the ground.  But there’s […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Negotiations?

As of midday today (28 February 2022) there’s talk of Ukrainian and Russian delegations meeting to discuss a ceasefire. One of the really key ideas in any negotiation between parties involved in a military conflict is this: You never win more at the negotiation table than you control on the […]

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Putin on Ukraine

We’re all trying to work out what Vladimir Putin ‘really’ wants. Does he know? Does the idea of ‘someone knowing what they really want’ even make sense? Still, President Putin went out of his way to explain his policies and wider approach in his long televised address to the Russian […]

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World War Three

My latest DIPLOMAT piece – what if World War Three has started but we haven’t realised? So here we are (at the time of writing this) in mid-January 2022. As usual the British media are agog and aghast at various world issues.  The legal machinations of Prince Andrew.  Australia’s COVID […]

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The End of the Soviet Union

My DIPLOMAT piece on how the Soviet Union collapsed. A subject with now a certain topicality as V Putin flails around hoping to create some sort of USSR 2.0? The Berlin Wall came down in late 1989, prompting tumultuous democratic changes across the European communist space. Two Moscows competed to […]

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Zoom Diplomacy

Then there’s this one on the zany new world of Zoom diplomacy: Legend has it that in a room in Number Ten one such special telephone sat unused, to the point where no-one could remember why it was there. One day to the shared consternation of both Prime Minister and […]

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COVID-19 and (The End of) Human Rights

You may have missed some of my recent pieces for DIPLOMAT. So try this one: This one on Covid-19 and the Strange Death of Human Rights: Enter COVID-19. It turns out that the Enlightenment and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and almost everything else ever written about human rights […]

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