Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

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My first post here in a while. We’re planning to move house after some 13 years here, and then it was busy again and the weeks flit by. Have you heard of Benford’s Law? Me neither. It turns out that it’s a way of exploring ‘unfabricated’ numbers. The gist of […]

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Poland Presidential Elections

Poland is about to have a second-round run-off in an important Presidential election. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda of Law and Justice is in a tight race with Rafał Trzaskowski (Civic Platform) the Mayor of Warsaw. This is typically presented by the chatterati as quite a civilisational battle: nasty reactionary xenophobic […]

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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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Translating Polish into English

I previously have looked at some subtle issues of translating good Polish into good English: Take Polish. It has a (for most of us) unpronounceable idiom meaning (variously) within arm’s reach or so close you can touch it: na wyciągnięcie ręki. In a metaphorical sense it denotes something very close, in a […]

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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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The PiS takes Poland

New elections in Poland. And as the polls predicted, a big win again for the Law and Justice party (PiS) led by Jarosław Kaczyński. Although [BREAKING NEWS] as the final results come in it looks as if PiS have not won the Senate (upper house) as well as the Sejm […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (2)

Imagine that you have invited a friend to stay in your house for a few months. All proceeds nicely. Then suddenly you read in the local papers that your friend has been sending emails to his friends describing in some accurate detail the failings of your house and making sharp, […]

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Darroch and Diplomacy (1)

No sooner is my back turned in deep Jersey meeting putative in-laws than a remarkable diplomatic scandal-drama erupts and Sir Kim Darroch ends up resigning as UK Ambassador to the USA. No-one else has analysed all this sensibly, so I must have a shot. In fact several shots in successive […]

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Junk Management

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at how performance is assessed and rewarded (or not) in the modern public sector. Despite (or maybe to compensate for?) the horror that is the modern British government of sullen bureaucracy and shabby clothes, British diplomats tend to work hard and loyally. They trudge […]

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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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