Browsing All Posts filed under »Trade Diplomacy«

211 – The soft underbelly of “soft” power – I

February 18, 2013 by


The vagueness of the concept If you want to be a public intellectual in the US, find the catchy turn of phrase and then beat the chicken-mint peas-mashed potatoes circuit with it, writing op-eds in the NYTimes on week-ends to uplifting effect. The “catchy phrase” best be vague and fuzzy: empty vessels resonate best. Like […]

210 – Kairos and the precautionary principle

February 13, 2013 by


I’m no friend of the precautionary principle – and I’ve argued against its indiscriminate use. I could not pinpoint clearly my uneasiness, however. Thanks to Biljana Scott ( I’m now able to do so. In a recent blog she refers to a special Greek notion of time: kairos (καιρός), which can be translated as “the opportune […]

209 – The future of WTO

February 3, 2013 by


159 member states are about to select the new WTO Director General. I’ve attended a beauty contest among some of the candidates. Their personalities are impressive. But what about the policies they should implement in the organization? An impressive success for the treaty system The WTO treaty system is all about reducing barriers to trade […]

194 – Is “Asia” in the making?

November 25, 2012 by


I’ve come across a substantial study of European perceptions of “Asia”[1]. It is one of numerous similar studies as background to the ASEM process[2]. According to this study, research on perceptions is not concerned with the study of “facts as such” as with the question of how facts are observed, constructed, and understood – here […]

183 – Wanted: Diplomats without borders! – (II)

October 19, 2012 by


  The Peace of Augsburg 1555, and then the Peace of Westphalia (1648) marked the end of common rules that would apply across emergent national states in Europe. Henceforth each state was autocratic within and autonomous without. The border was the boundary delimitating the internal and external fields of power – and by implication potential […]

182 – Border-making – (I) in Africa

October 16, 2012 by


When I first mentioned to a diplomatic friend my intention of writing a blog entry on “diplomats without borders” I was met with incredulity. “Diplomats are the peacetime gate keepers at the border! You can’t have diplomats without borders.” Are borders “vital”? An interesting question – and one which is worth a short visit to […]

161 – Can we live by incentives?

August 31, 2012 by


After reading my 156 – Between markets and regulation a young friend of mine has argued “I believe in incentives”. Leaving aside the matter of “belief”, let’s look closer at what thw “incentives” theory is saying. “Incentive” is shorthand for money signal. Profits will be an incentive to act; losses are incentives no desist.  By closely tracking […]