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Donald Trump, Edward the Confessor and 'Telephone Diplomacy'

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History is littered with great rivals: Ali V Frazier, Rommel V Montgomery, the ‘Compare the Market Meerkat’ and the ‘Go Compare Singer’. This week we saw the re-emergence of another one on the international stage. Now correct me if I am wrong, but Donald Trump strikes me as a man with several enemies. However, on Tuesday his greatest foe once again appeared in the oval office: the telephone.



If you haven’t seen the painfully awkward phone call Trump had with the Mexican President on Tuesday, I thoroughly recommend watching it now (Link here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2018/aug/28/enrique-hello-trumps-awkward-phone-call-with-mexican-president-video). To summarise, Trump attempted to call President Enrique Pena Nieto in order to discuss their new trade deal. However, things quickly went south. In a scene reminiscent of The Thick of It, Trump began speaking on the phone only to discover Nieto wasn’t on the line at all. After a few awkward minutes waiting, one of Trump’s aid…

Rwanda 2018: changing a reputation with summitry diplomacy

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Last month, 44 state leaders met in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign a free trade agreement that might revolutionise world trade. 






Don’t worry Nige, Britain was not involved. Rather, the 44 leaders were all African. Africa has a serious problem with trade, as only 10% of the continent’s commerce is ‘Intra-African’. However, by creating the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) the African Union will bring together 1.2 billion consumers in a tariff free market.

Whilst things didn’t go perfectly, as Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, refused to sign, there seems to be a mood of optimism surrounding the deal. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African Union’s chair person, said it represents ‘a glorious challenge … which calls for the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to achieve’. There’s hope the CFTA will pave the way for a customs union, a single currency and freedom of movement. 




However, what intrigues me about the CFTA is where it was signed: Rwanda. The small central African cou…

Victimhood, Polish Identity and #GermanDeathCamps

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(Disclaimer- This post is not about the history of the Holocaust, but the relationship between modern Polish identity and victimhood. If you would like to read about the Holocaust then plenty of smarter people than me have provided you with a wealth of literature)
Recently I was binge watching cat videos on YouTube when a particularly advert caught my attention. Usually I do my best to ignore YouTube ads, but this one stood out. Probably because, in contrast to the usual array of adverts for music and bullshit I get targeted with, this one was about the Holocaust.

Today, we are still on the side of truth video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrkQ20SjHoU


If you haven’t seen the Today, we are still on the side of truth video I’ll quickly summarise. Created by The Institute of National Remembrance, a Polish government institution, the video provides a montage of the Holocaust. However, it invites us to see the Holocaust as not a genocide against just the Jews, but rather ‘Jews and Poles …

Pandas and Magic Cups: Comparing modern Chinese and twelfth century English diplomacy

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Pandas, famous for their lacklustre love-making and poor wrestling careers, have more often been the subject of hilarious internet videos than discussions of international relations. However, over the last 50 years these bears having been living a double life: sometimes looking cute for the cameras, and at other times influencing the geo-political landscape.


Since 1965, when the Chinese leader Mao Zedong sent Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev a panda as a present (I suppose because iTunes vouchers hadn’t been invented yet?), pandas have held an important position in China’s foreign policy.



In recent years, China has sent pandas to countries it has established new trade relations with. For example, in 2011 China was looking for a new trade partner to import salmon from after Norway, their previous supplier, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. They turned their eyes to Scotland and negotiated a contract worth £2.6 billion which saw them receive salmon and land r…

Trump, Henry I and Dominoes: third parties in bilateral diplomacy

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This week Donald Trump, the giver of diplomatic faux-pas who won’t stop giving (despite the rest of world literally begging him to stop), recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and promised to move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
Whilst there has been much speculation over Trump’s 'foreign policy’ (read in a sarcastic voice), one of the upshots of this action is clear: improved relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims Trump has been ‘courageous and just’ and ‘inscribed himself in the annals of our capital for all time’.


Netanyahu’s response to this bilateral action is to be expected. By moving the US embassy to Jerusalem Trump is recognising Israel’s controversial annexation of East Jerusalem during the Six Day War (Evidence of modern people’s declining attention spans. In the medieval period people used to pay attention long enough to keep wars going for a hundred years).
However, non-Israelis have been far less enthusiastic. As expected…

Lessons from history: Medieval Exiles and Catalan Independence

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I wonder if when he arrived in Brussels last week, fleeing Spanish officials, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont thought to himself ‘well that escalated’. Back on October 1st Puigdemont’s Government held a referendum on whether Catalonia should secede from Spain. Unfortunately, the Spanish government ruled that was illegal as Spain is ‘indivisible’. However, Carles did not accept this argument.


Instead he used the referendum result in favour of secession to declare independence. In response the Spanish Government has fired the Catalan Government and called new elections in the region, whilst Puigdemont and his cabinet have been charged with sedition, embezzlement and rebellion. What a ridiculous way to respond to a referendum eh? Whatever happened to just calling the people who voted differently to you moaners/racists whilst the government makes bland pointless statements to cover up their inability to implement the result?




Rather than face the music Puigdemont chose to flee Spain, dr…