August 20, 2019


In 1995 in a little remembered event Li Ruthuan, a member of the Chinese Politiburo (containing the top seven in the government), made a speech likening the Chinese take-over of Hong Kong to the case of a lady who had agreed to sell a 100-year-old Yi-Xiang teapot that was famous for the taste of the tea it poured. Unbeknown to her, its quality deri...

August 13, 2019

In her famous decree in 1767 Empress Catherine the Great proclaimed Russia to be a European power. She wanted Russia to be a major player in European politics. She compelled the Europeans to accept Russia as a great power as a condition for doing business. In 1815 Russia was considered an equal in the 1815 Concert of Europe.

In contrast, Imperial Chi...

August 6, 2019

If MAD was Mad then the decision of President Donald Trump to renounce the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is MADDER.

MAD is Mutually Assured Destruction, a concept which underlay the nuclear deterrence of the Cold War. Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan began the hard work of dismantling MAD with the INF, a treaty affecting the...

July 30, 2019

In 2010 the signatory states of the International Criminal Court, established to prosecute war crimes, convened a conference to add aggression to the list of crimes the court could try. The US, Russia, Iran, China and India have refused to sign up as ICC members  and have not welcomed the addition of “aggression”. But fifteen Nato states have. Moreo...

July 23, 2019

There’s never been a full-scale war between two nuclear-armed states. If Iran one day did cross the nuclear threshold the same deterrence will apply. No one rational would want to want to provoke their own incineration. Columbia university professor, Kenneth Waltz, the distinguished theorist on the conduct of war, wrote in Foreign Affairs that with...

July 16, 2019

A sword of Damocles hangs over the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The sword of Netanyahu hangs over Palestine- and Israel. Which will fall first?

A court case approaches. A new election in September approaches. Netanyahu is being accused of a serious crime of corruption. He is fighting not just for his political beliefs but also for his...

July 9, 2019

The attack on “the liberal idea” by Vladimir Putin in his long interview in the Financial Times at the end of June is still vibrating in my mind.

First, I’d like to know if the Russian people share his views on immigration. In Britain and the US, despite the anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions of Prime Minister Theresa May and President Donald Trump,...

July 2, 2019

Here’s a joke, borrowed from a Russian website. The Russians always have had a dry humour. “Trump, Merkel, May and Macon- Putin is heartily sick of them all. They keep calling and calling, so he switches his phone to voicemail. His message says; “Hello, you have called Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately I cannot take your call at the mo...

June 25, 2019

Xi Jinping, president of China, remains an enigma. You watched him on television this past weekend reviewing the dancing in Pyongyang in the company of Kim Jong-un and his face is near to expressionless when in repose. He doesn’t stand like an arrogant man and we recall that time when he went out to eat in a noodle cafe he joined the back of the que...

June 18, 2019

In 1980 in his State of the Union address President Jimmy Carter said: “Any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Dear President Donald Trump: We’ve been here bef...

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