February 28, 2024

A collective noun for diplomats

28 February 2024. There is no collective noun for diplomats in common usage, although some candidates for the title have surfaced over the years. Here I note these, consider some other possibilities and come to no serious conclusion.

The embassy that planned 13 toilets underground

11 February, 2024. In 2015 the Russian Embassy in the Republic of Ireland secured local government approval to quadruple its footprint. However, on 4 March 2020, without publicity, the central government in Dublin overrode this decision and gutted its plans. What were they and why was this action taken?

January 31, 2024

The diplomatic consequences of Mrs Sacoolas

2 February 2024. In the years after the incident in 2019 in which the wife of an intel officer on a US Embassy annex in central England killed a British motorcyclist by careless driving, I posted three blogs on its diplomatic consequences. This one distils their essence and adds more considered reflections.

New London embassy for China?

27 January, 2024 China’s plans to build a much larger embassy in London on the site of the old Royal Mint Court near Tower Bridge appear to have been abandoned. Why did this happen and what lessons can be learned from the experience?

December 16, 2023

The English Job: Understanding Iran and Why It Distrusts Britain

Straw, Jack: The English Job: Understanding Iran and why it distrusts Britain (Biteback, 2019), pp. 390, incl. index, ISBN 978-1-78590-399-1 It was only by chance that I stumbled on this book, partly because from a marketing point of view the title is perfectly useless, and it’s hard to understand why the publisher agreed to [...]

November 23, 2023

Gaza: Turkish mediation?

23 November 2023. The reasons for supposing that Turkey might emerge in pole position to mediate an end to the Israel-Hamas war should the opportunity ever arise.

August 10, 2023

China’s embassy in Ukraine

10 August 2023 Considerable attention has been focused on China’s participation in the Saudi-hosted talks at national security adviser level on Ukraine in Jedda over the weekend 5-6 August 2023, while Russia was not invited.

July 23, 2023

‘Agri-food-and drink attachés’ for endangered seats

23 July 2023 The crisply styled Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has rediscovered and, in the modern way of things, rebranded the agricultural attaché. First installed in diplomatic missions after the First World War, not least those of the United States, this officer has re-appeared in some British missions abroad [...]

Email crash

20 July 2023 My old Virgin Media email account has crashed yet again, so - like many others - I have given up on it. Anyone wishing to reach me who has not received a change of address message can do so via the CONTACT form, at the right-hand end of the top horizontal [...]

Fleetwood Mac, ‘Perfect’ surprise

12 July 2023 About a week ago my friend and close neighbour, John Sandford-Smith, turned up at my door. In one hand he held a large tool I had lent him some time ago (he had forgotten I had told him I no longer needed it) and in the other [...]

February 15, 2023

New START Treaty on embassy life support

February 15 2023 It is a defining feature of the permanent embassy that – in contrast to the special mission – it has general responsibilities, and these might cover almost any subject. Although I’m guessing, a recent and extremely important case in point appears to be the role of the [...]

November 29, 2022

Corrupt honorary consuls exposed

28 November 2022 It has long been suspected that governments riddled with corruption have allowed this reflex to extend – for a fee – to appointing rogues of all sorts to represent them as ‘honorary consuls’ in foreign states that permit them, as the vast majority do.

March 3, 2022

How your country voted in UN debates on Ukraine

3 March 2022 Check how your country voted in the UN debates on Ukraine in the last few days, or found that, regrettably, its permanant representative had pressing engagements elsewhere and failed to vote altogether.

January 29, 2022

October 11, 2021

America’s headless embassies

11 October 2021 Astonishing to report, almost nine months since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January, a huge number of ambassadorial positions at US embassies and key bodies such as NATO, the EU, and the OECD, as well as senior positions in the Department of State, remain unfilled. Why has this happened [...]

July 30, 2021

June 26, 2021

‘Buy, buy (not bye-bye) Mr Ambassador!’

26 June, 2021 In a blog dated 16 June 2021, Dominic Cummings, until recently British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser but now his most trenchant critic, let slip a morsel of information of considerable interest to students of diplomacy.

May 25, 2021

Embassies and transnational repression

25 May, 2021 If the vicious authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus, now a Russian puppet state in eastern Europe, will force down an EU civil airliner in order to seize, imprison and torture an opposition journalist, it seems to me that we are entitled to ask: To what lengths will this and any [...]

Go to Top