The Browser
Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Ukraine, Russia And Europe

“The European Union cares less about Ukraine than it says it does, whereas Moscow cares a lot. When he first took power Vladimir Putin defined his basic objective for Russian policy: To keep what’s ours. Putin’s Moscow has generous definitions of what is theirs, including all former Soviet republics, any sizeable Russian-speaking communities beyond Russia’s borders, and any Slav/Orthodox nations that have yet to join the EU or Nato” (850 words)


How countries break apart. Scotland’s bid for secession from the UK offers a road-map for a best-case scenario. History is full of worst-case scenarios, such as the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 at a cost of one million lives. Somewhere between the two lies Kosovo: “It’s one thing to amputate parts of your gangrenous leg yourself. It’s quite another for NATO to lunge in, wielding a rusty hacksaw” (3,000 words)

Iran’s Elections: Missing The Point

Short, pithy, packed with more wisdom than you find in bloviations ten times the length. If you are a State Department spokesman, asked what you think about exclusion of women from Iran’s presidential elections, here’s what you say. Condemn the exclusion, amplify the reasons, leave open the option of working with the winner. “Simple, clear, principled and flexible. Always the best combination. It’s called diplomacy” (413 words)

Julian Assange And The Dark Art Of Diplomatic Communication

“It’s not as easy as you might think to convey a message to another government accurately. Will your messenger convey the right message and only that message? Do you want your message to be precise, or ambiguous, or a bit of both?”

Diplomatic Barnacles

Scenes from the diplomatic life, worthy of Lawrence Durrell. Embassies, like ships, have their barnacles: The local bores, gatecrashers, frauds and eccentrics “who attach themselves to the Corps and intend to stay firmly attached”

European Solidarity Is Ebbing Away

Day-to-day EU business takes place in a thick smog of bureaucrats and experts. By comparison, summits are a clear blue sky. The questions are clear and direct. The main one: Can EU leaders trust one another? Answer: not any more

A Radical New Deal For Britain And Europe

Wonderful, imaginary version of the speech David Cameron would never give on Europe. “Europe used to export its wars. Now it exports its incompetence. The time has come to redefine the UK’s relationship with the European Union”

International Intervention

“Gaddafi and Mubarak case studies reinforce the worst instincts of the worst dictators: make clear from the start of any unrest that you’ll do what it takes to stay in power. Western governments talk tough, but that is negotiable”

How The EU Budget Works

Cut out and keep. Diplomat explains, inter alia: who gives and who gets; the seven-year plan; British rebate; leverage of national governments; case against Euro-taxes. And that’s just part one (of two)

Diplomatic Speech-Writing

Words of advice, from speech-writer to British foreign secretary in 1980s. It’s not the speech-writer’s job to show off his own cleverness. And it’s not what you say that matters, it’s what they hear.

Usefulness Of Sleeper Spies

Why we’re naive and wrong to ridicule the alleged Russian sleepers operation. True that most will fail to get anywhere significant but they don’t need to. They can still be immensely useful

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