Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

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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Migrating Rights

Just when you thought that you were safe from links here to my articles over at DIPLOMAT, you get two in one day. My very latest one on Migration and Rights. Thus: Hundreds of millions of people are now on the move around the world every year. Refugees. Displaced persons. […]

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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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The Politics of Decompression

My latest piece for DIPLOMAT explores how Optimists, Pessimists and Cynics view options for helping a grotty dictatorship (say the dismal state of Sibya) move to something rather better. Back in the mists of 2016, I shared with Diplomat readers my thoughts on bad leaders: “Yes, we were wicked. But hey, look […]

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Is Negotiation Dishonest?

This odd question appeared over on Quora today. It prompted the following exchange with me and a passing Quoran posing follow-up questions (edited for simplicity). Full version here. Is Negotiation Dishonest by Default? No. It’s possible to be a dishonest negotiator. But when haggling over a price (‘This is my […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (2)

My previous post rehearsed some of the existential issues about the Serbia/Kosovo problem and mooted the idea of tweaking borders to help achieve a deal. Let’s look at this in more detail. Factors to bear in mind as my mind in-bears them. Where to draw lines? Post-WW2 Yugoslavia had six […]

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Serbia and Kosovo Territory Swap (1)

+++ World Scoop +++ Here’s extended/edited extracts from a long piece I first sent to the FCO from faraway Harvard back in Spring 1998 as the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia concluded. It was revised after Milošević fell. It still reads rather well, if I say so myself. See my […]

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NATO, Montenegro, Russia, Ukraine

My latest piece for the Telegraph (££) looks at what if anything President Trump might have meant when he was asked on TV about NATO and Montenegro. Here’s the exchange: CARLSON: Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked. So let’s say Montenegro, which joined […]

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Mysterious Enigmatic Russia

My latest DIPLOMAT piece ponders the mysteries of Russia: One excellent way for diplomats to understand Europe and its history is to look at a YouTube video that demonstrates how borders have changed in this part of the world over the past 1000 years or so. For the first few […]

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