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Thought For Monday

09/28/2020

Europe - no place for old thought. Europe's future lies in the balance - entirely of its own making, entirely the result of its failed leadership. Today it is out of touch, out of time and fossilized in its outdated thinking. The reality is that the triple curse of...

09/25/2020

The US at a tipping point. For the first time in more than 300 years the next super power may well not be a western democracy. China, the new challenger, is faced with major problems at home. But it knows only too well that no government is more at risk than when it...

09/13/2020

US/China trade - faulty thinking. The trade war with China is warming up with a further round of US sanctions coming into effect next week. It is hard to think of a more contradictory policy. Huawei, deprived of its long standing relations with western suppliers has...

09/10/2020

Fort Hood and the contamination of cover-up. The tyro leader mistakenly sets himself on a precarious pedestal - the snake oil salesman peddling the elixir of life. At the extreme he claims the knowledge -"I know better", he says, "better than the generals, than the...

09/08/2020

Britain faces critical challenges. Amongst the turmoil of our election here in the US, it is easy to forget the gathering storms elsewhere - not least amongst the other western democracies. It is no longer possible to call them friends or allies because our foreign...

09/06/2020

Can the US election save Europe. Since 1805 and  Nelson's victory Trafalgar, the UK lived on the periphery of European politics. The 23 miles of turbulent and volatile Channel waters allowed it to focus on its Empire elsewhere. On the mainland the story has been very...

09/04/2020

America's China myopia. Today for all the shame of our administration, despite the nationwide suffering from the mishandled pandemic, and despite the social and racist gap between the few very rich and the legions of the very poor - the United States remains the...

08/24/2020

  The New Leadership - applied to America.  As you know I have just completed my Master Class - The New Leadership. You can all access it via www.cookeleaders.com. Here's my thinking on how it could be applied to the challenges we face here today. Build on our...

08/19/2020

Known by the company he keeps. Since 1917, when Lenin returned to Moscow, Russia has been a pariah - an enemy of freedom, democracy and the west. Lenin's was a revolution of violence and terror that led a nation down a nightmare road to suffering beyond imagination....

08/04/2020

The descent into despotism.   This note is a warning. I wrote the other day (August 1) about Poland and Hungary’s descent into dictatorship. Two nations with rich and terrible histories. Two nations whose future could so easily have been to consolidate the success of...

08/01/2020

Leadership in the European Union. The EU came about not because of the leadership of eminent Europeans. Monnet, Schuman and many others played vital roles facilitating, encouraging and enabling. But in reality, post war Europe was not surprisingly in a political,...

07/25/2020

Followership matters. Isn’t it odd how so many books have been written on “Leadership”* – yet almost nothing on “Followership”? How on earth did civilized America come to elect Trump? How did the Republican Party come to see this shallow vessel of rank incompetence as...

07/25/2020

Management means measurement. Four themes lie at the heart of meaningful leadership and management*: Love for your people; Dynamic strategic planning; Sensible operating disciplines in use; And Measurement. It is time to talk of Measurement. One of the mantras...

07/24/2020

A deferred failure in Brussels. It was a long weekend in Brussels. The intention was to agree the 5 year budget and to decide upon a bail out for the economies most affected by the pandemic. At the end more may have been achieved than we dared hope. But the fears...

07/24/2020

Leadership is about being “ nimble” rather than “humble”.   On Monday the inimitable New York Times published a must read review of Europe’s response to the Corona Virus. The headline was “Europe’s pride went before a fall”, its message “learn humility”. But that is...

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The White House - incompetent or evil? Over the last 4 years the White House has developed as a case history in mismanagement, a shaming example of how not to lead*. The failures originate in the President's psyche, a fear of facing up to facts - even when those facts...

07/15/20

Europe - gang land rivalries. Europe leadership remains in turmoil. This weekend the self appointed aspirants - Merkel and Macron - are hoping to seal Corona and Economic funding packages that will help the beleaguered and failing nations to the south and East of the...

07/11/2020

"By your friends shall ye be known". I dreamed a dream. Dinner with the President, Tonight, White House, Black Tie, just friends, no masks. A last minute invite - but aren't they so often just the best. Brazil's President* sat by - still no mask, fresh from heroic...

06/30/2020

Managing the Balkans. For most of time geography has played as much of a role as has economics in foreign policy. Mountains, forests, rivers, oceans and deserts established boundaries between tribes and nations. The Balkans* in South Eastern Europe are an example of...

06/28/2020

Time for a New Leadership. This great nation looks to be on the verge of a Corona Panic. It is now the turn of the Southern States to suffer and the numbers are alarming. Texas, The Carolinas, Florida are not getting a free pass. In Florida alone there have been 5000...

06/22/2020

Covid-19 update. Given the regular mauling the White House and its team give to the truth, it is time to summarize the position as it stands today. The US stock market, underpinned by the US consumer and the dollar as the world reserve currency is down 3.2% for the...

06/19/2020

Fish rot from the head. The Bolton memoires reflect badly on all of us. But they matter. We are indeed in the midst of a dark period in American history. This is an Administration without clear values, without an understood plan, unable to focus on America's needs,...

06/14/2020

The need for values in Leadership. The last six weeks have shown how quickly and how far great nations can fall without a value driven leadership*.  Europe is reverting to the failed tribalism of last century. In the UK leadership is stalling. We in the US are being...

06/10/2020

Maintaining global trust. It is part of the market's psyche to be fearful. It even creates languages for that - are we in a "v", "U", "L"  or even "W" shaped recovery? Are we in a "Bubble"? Has the market "disengaged" from the broader economy? But, and here's the...

06/08/2020

The Wooden Spoon for Leadership. The last few months have been something of a revelation. Our finest companies have done well. Their imaginative reaction to the Corona-virus led to masks, new services, and special local support. They have kept their their...

06/04/2020

Leadership in the USA. I am about to publish "The New Leadership", a Master Class for business managers confronting today's crises. My friends ask me about leadership in our country today. The difficulty in answering is speaking truth whilst remaining apolitical. So...

05/31/2020

Europe at a tipping point. Two realities are confronting each other in Europe. The first reality is the benefit of turning the faltering continental bloc of 27 nations into a federal state - one nation, one strategy, one economy, and one sovereignty with a population...

05/21/2020

History is...a tableau of crimes and misfortunes. The Corona-virus has intensified the lack of trust in our current global leadership. The US administration takes the palm of shame with its deceits, refusal to face the facts and its resolute prioritization of the...

05/21/2020

The next Pandemic. Occasionally we read a column so exactly right that there is little to do but introduce it. The May/June 2020 Foreign Affairs' brilliant article, "Chronicle of a Pandemic Foretold", should be seen by everyone*. Here is a synopsis: Corona-virus (CV)...

05/17/2020

A World of Black Swans. No nation can long prosper cut off from the rest. US Foreign Policy needs to pivot and fast. It often comes as a surprise to my audiences to learn that ours is not the richest economy. The US is around 9th in terms of nominal gdp per capita* at...

05/11/2020

The Vaccine Time line. First let's clear the decks of rationality. I am no medical expert. My real beef is with the calamitous White House looking for a miracle escape like a starving dinosaur gnawing at its own tail. But I am a strategic leadership coach, and I have...

05/10/2020

The Big Lie. May 7 is a date that echoes down the hallways of history. This year it marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi surrender to the Allies, led by the United States. But the memory this time was one of shame - of the Grosse Luge, the Big Lie. In Mein Kampf...

05/07/2020

The Rise of Despots. In October 1935, Churchill; wrote "the world is divided between governments who own the peoples and peoples who own the governments. Free parliaments and democracies have been trampled down in most of the countries of Europe. They have reverted to...

05/03/2020

A new Arms Race. Three times in the last 120 years, the developed economies have embraced a full on arms race - in the run up to two world wars and then in the protracted cold war that followed. Countless millions died. Towns and villages were destroyed and the...

04/30/2020

Global leadership in confusion. So you think you are confused here in the USA? Spare a thought for the Latvia's 2 million people, about the same as Queens, sharing borders with Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. After centuries of foreign rule Latvia won its current...

04/23/2020

The Play book of Despots. Here's the despot playbook. Gain power through the ballot box; dominate a legitimate political party; allocate yourself increasing autonomous powers; threaten and blackmail district heads or governors into subservience; restock independent...

04/20/2020

Leadership in a Crisis. I am putting the final touches to a new leadership master class. It's six core themes are: Have in use an established and guiding set of values Have an understood plan Communicate clearly and honestly - do not cover up Work with the end in mind...

04/13/2020

The Wrong Turning. We are on the cusp of acquiescing to a mistaken shift in Geo-politics. We are taking steps even now that our children will one day curse. Until a couple of years ago, it was possible to point to a world gradually doing the sensible thing. Nations...

04/07/2020

Europe on thin ice. The end of World War 111, especially in Eastern Europe, saw history's most extreme and extensive ethnic cleansing. Millions were forcibly removed from nations where many had lived for generations and lived well. In the bitter reckoning that...

04/03/2020

More Black Swans. Darwin's concept of the survival of the fittest had nothing to do with working out, with being fit -  it related to adaptability, the capacity to change to "fit" changing circumstances as they took place. We are now experiencing the process of...

03/25/2020

"America First" or "America Alone" Our nationalistic slogan "America First" always had within it the seeds of a slide into "America Alone". That is where we are going, and it is a massive Geo political error. It has led to a Luddite administration refusing to confront...

14/03/2020

Europe in crisis. For centuries Turkey, Greece and Russia have been at each other's  throats. Great Empires with never to be forgotten histories, all three living today on memories, their economies under threat*. But coping with one's past, that is the way of great...

03/14/2020

Changing our mental set. It shouldn't be happening this way. The US already had crisis teams built by earlier administrations  - but one of Trump's first decisions was to close them down. When the pandemic erupted the White House had no prepared leadership. Instead,...

03/10/2020

Britain's new politics. Boris Johnson has introduced a new realism and dynamism into the staid world of British and European bureaucracy. Negotiations with Brussels are focused and brutal. Britain is insisting on setting its own food quality standards, defining...

09/03/2020

Monday March 9, 2020. "Corona - Monday" or New Thinking? This looks threatening. Most continents are infected. Markets are in free fall. But this could be an opportunity to change a deranged American strategy and replace it with a fresh leadership model that stresses...

02/28/2020

 de,  Corona - virus is no gloating matter. The Corona virus looks threatening. Most nations are affected - it is a pandemic. Let's hope it can be stopped quickly. Apart from coping with the direct assault on the US however, it suggests a Foreign Policy opportunity ...

02/27/2020

Authenticity matters. The UK-EU Brexit negotiations are warming up, largely at the instigation of the Brits. Sticking to its simple vision of the likely outcomes Britain is playing its cards for real. The EU bureaucrats are not. Last week Johnson published his mandate...

02/25/2020

Enlargement - the big mistake in Europe. The big mistake was "Enlargement". In the early 90's the original northern and western members of the EU shared broadly similar economic realities. Average gdp per head was around the $60 of the US; trade agreements were more...

02/24/2020

UK will prosper as EU indigestion. blocks progress. The EU is biting off too much. UK will win its trade negotiations for two major reasons - both to do with motivation and leadership. This is the one vital focus for the UK. The EU however has a stream of far more...

02/16/2020

Dangerous bridges. Turkey is building bridges to neighbouring nations who are at odds with Russia and they see enmity in the US. Last week  President Erdogan met with the Ukrainian President Zelensky to strengthen their economic and military ties. Both leaders are...

02/11/2020

Keep a watch on Turkey. Turkey hs always been relatively disregarded, off the corner of the map, not really in Europe, nor yet in Asia, nor quite in North Africa. In reality that is what makes it so special. It is the three way crossroads for three entirely different...

02/11/2020

Fighting the wrong battles. In my talks on China I touch on their already crushing defence capability. "Today China's arsenal of ante ship missiles on the mainland and in its coastal fleet, make it impossible for the US to operate within 1000 miles. Forget aircraft...

01/28/2020

 2020 - The year of Disruption. Western democratic politics tends to be subservient to the art of the possible, to compromise. The European Union began in order to cope with this. It aimed to create common defence and economic policies amongst its member states. Then...

01/18/2020

Mixing a mess in the Mediterranean. Putin and Erdogan, intended despots for life, are mixing a potentially potent mess of pottage in the Eastern Mediterranean in the absence of the US and the lack of leadership within the EU. The next few days are going to be...

01/16/2020

China - partial platform. I always saw the China Trade Talks as more blustery and windy optics than robust substance. But perhpas it is time at least for a rain check. The new accord may unravel. It is certain that the next phase wil be no slam dunk. A great deal of...

01/13/2020

Finding Johnson. People have still not understood the new British PM. Yes, he may still act the fool - probably his way of dealing with boredom, or vulnerability. But the last eight months have shown him as no joker. Instead Britian may have found a brutally focussed...

01/12/2020

Off piste - The House of Windsor. Everyone is asking me about Harry and Meghan - so I am going off piste today from geo politics. First a little context to keep you honest - the Royals cost us Brits roughly £1 a year per person per year! This may be the best of deals...

01/06/2020

Three depressing thoughts. Three thoughts to start the week - they concern Iran, Turkey and Ireland - and the world becoming more dangerous. First to Iran.  When one's own governmant carries out a violent  deed you want deep down to supprt them. Surely, you think,...

01/03/2020

The new UK leader has a shot at greatness. Boris Johnson continues to set the pace for leadership - perhaps for greatness. Britain will host the UN Climate Change Summit in November 2020 and he plans to hold it in Glasgow rather than London. Johnson and his secretary...

01/03/2020

"Iran never won a war" - todays presidential tweet. It is extraordinary how untutored the White House appears to be. Iran, also called Persia has a population slightly larger than that of the UK, and, like the UK, it has a proud and rich heritage - home to one of the...

12/24/2019

Tensions around Turkey. The Eastern Mediterranean is the pivot of volatility in Europe. This is where Islam confronts the various Christianities, where climate change refugees challenge racism and homeland security, and where Russia dabbles in discord. This is a fault...

12/23/2019

The independence of Judges. Despite the courage of its people, Poland suffered more than most during the last century of war. Overrun by Hitler and Stalin this beautiful nation of 38 million endured the Cold War purgatory of Soviet occupation until 1989. Since then,...

12/22/2019

Super Power leadership - the FDR template. It is always a good idea to write your own memoirs, a quiet effort to keep one favourable finger at least on the otherwise remorseless scales of history. Churchill went all in with six volumes of "The Second World War"...

12/18/2019

Boris's path to leadership. The British P.M. has won a significant working majority. For the moment there will be vigorous support within his party, for the moment he has little to fear. His leadership has been characterised by a brutally simple message and a no less...

12/16/2019

The Super power without a brain. No one knows what has been agreed with China. There is no published text. The chattering classes are playing "what if...". My shaming realisation is that, given the consistent deceit of our White House, my inclination is to disbelieve...

12/16/2019

What China Agreement? The China negotiaioins were "vitally important". We, the Americans, were the whiter than white good guys at last challenging the Chinese bad guys to play by our rules - especialy over patent laws and intellectual security. Both nations paid a...

12/13/2019

What China agreement? We knew they were important, we understood. We, the whiter than white Americans were the good guys - they, the yellow peril, were the bad guys flouting our rules especially in new technology patent laws and this had to be stopped, no matter the...

12/13/2019

Three challenges for Boris. We have been forecasting the Johnson Brexit landslide all year and we were right. His clear, brutally simple, divisive and economically regressive campaign has won the day. But no celebrations. This now is the start of a social and economic...

12/11/2019

End of term review. So after three years and confronting impeachment, a bundle of court cases, 6 of his close staff in gaol, and a staff churn of historic proportions, how is the leader of the free world doing?  North Korea now treats the US as a totem punch bag....

12/06/2019

Turkey flexes its muscles. History and geography play an unassailable role at the heart of macro-politics. As traditional rules and disciplines fail that role becomes more overt. Currently most of the unwritten rules of European politics are being challenged...

12/03/2019

SWe Work - don't be a schmuck. Its been a year for IPO's. Several. without the vestige of a chance to make a profit have nonetheless propered their rock star owners and advisors alike. In many cases the stock has subsequently collapsed, the rest will surely follow in...

12/01/2019

Johnson's bed of nails. Britain's December 12 election is all over bar the shouting or a truly aweful Johnsonian lapse. As this note has been forecasting the Labour voter in confused by the dithering Corbyn - "shall we leave, shall we stay, could we somehow do both?"...

11/30/2019

Fish rot from the head. The amoral and lie strewn first two years of Trump's Presidency has held me astonished.  The inability of the GOP to preserve its own independent stance has left me ashamed. But the impeachment hearings surely demonstrated all that is fine in...

11/26/2019

Britain need a Churchill. Trade deals take a long time to work out. We are experiencing that here in the US as we struggle to play with just one opponent - China. So consider a moment the challenge of negotiating with 27 different nations all at once - a sort of high...

11/24/2019

Clouds are forming. One or two comments on the news in the last few days: Business activity remains solid in the US. The composite purchasing index for service and manufacture is at 52 (below 50 means the economy is contracting). This is someway south of the 58+...

11/17/2019

My thoughts from the front line. John Mauldin's excellent "Thoughts from the Front Line" on saturday made compulsory reading. The gist of it was that US debt is too great; it is increasing rapidly; there will be a reckoning. This is a trend in no way helped by US...

11/15/2019

US Foreign Policy. What should our foreign policy look like? First we should take stock. We have done well. We have many strengths of which we should be proud. In our hearts we believe in Chritsianity and Cristian values but we will happily accept others with...

11/10/2019

Hollow Boasts do not make a Foreign Policy. In 1938 British Prime Minister Chamberlain set aside tthe committments his country had made and betrayed Czechoslovakia to Hitler and the Nazis. "How horrible" he wrote to his spinster sisters, "that we should be digging...

11/08/2019

Silver Linings? There may be a silver lining to the dark clouds of the White House mess. It will be found in the high quality of America's full time officials and of its independent press. First the evident soul searching and committed intelligence of the FBI, then...

11/08/2019

Brexit confusion. One of Boris Johnson's more loveable traits is his eager garulity - a little like a breathless school girl full of today's goings on in class. But for all the cakes and ale, such breathless exuberance can suit ill with the role of Britain's finest...

11/05/2019

China and the US - the unthinking in pursuit of the unthinkable. Oscar Wilde described the "English Country Gentleman galloping after a fox - the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable". The last few years of world politics has set us all back - it is difficult...

11/02/2019

Brexit and the Liberal Democrats. I suggested in yesterday's note that there was a threat  facing Boris Johnson - namely the prospect of an awkward coalition. The research company "Britain Elects" has recently published the following stats. Prior to the Brexit...

11/01/2019

Another thought - some Brexit awkwardness. My regular updates on the UK Brexit mess - for which I freely accept unstinting praise - may have overlooked an awkwardness at least for Boris and his planning team. Nigel Farage and the "Brexit Party" are making a deal of a...

10/29/2019

Boris will have and win his election. Brexit is finally stumbling to some sort of conclusion. The protagonists have all played their part in what may be the least competent political performance since James the Second  single handedly destroyed the divine right of...

10/27/2019

Understanding History. The Times of London produced its "Complete Historical Atlas of the World"  nearly 40 years ago - it has since sold more than 2 million copies. To open it is to enter through a gateway to the past. I was looking in particular at the Empires of...

10/19/2019.

Moving backwards to Recession. Parliament rejected Johnson's proposals which happily puts him onto the front foot as the all British hero taking on Johnny foreigner - and anyone else for that matter including Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Queen. He is posing...

10/17/2019

Soybeans, Brazil and Damocles*. You will know by now about the US/China deal - "massive", "the largest ever signed", "we made a fantastic deal". You may also have read some of the criticism. Not the least of which is that no "contract" has actually been "signed" by...

10/14/2019

Coping with politics. Get used to it, the NBA, Facebook, China, even Donald Trump, the world has gone global. International supply chain management has enabled new economies to flourish. Technologies inpenetrable to most allow us to see and speak to friends across...

10/09/2019

Limited vision - maximum harm. English poet, John Donne writing in the early 17th Century famously voiced the definitive summary of foreign policy: "No man is an island" he wrote in his Meditation XII of 1624, and he went on to explain "every man is a part of the...

10/08/2019

Boris and Kaczynski to win. Johnson has stolen the manifesto of the Brexit party UKIP. The British PM has one target - to hold an election the moment his main rival is neutered. I doubt whether he has ever been much concerned about the Labour Opposition Party. They...

10/06/2019

Political structures need to change. I spoke some time ago about the need for US political structures to adapt, change and evolve - especially relevant because we are the global power and most other countries are impacted by our actions. Doubly important because times...

09/30/2019

Will we get a recession?  US GDP growth has now been bullish for a record 10 years. So tired minds inevitably start chattering about the end of the cycle - and they are right - the odds are that we are closer to the end than the start. But how much closer and what...

09/28/2019

Systemics, Narcissists, Psychopaths and three books. *Systemics  mostly male, have no interest in building lasting relationships, little or no sense of empathy, tend to be obsessed with their particular short term goal and have little interest in team or alliance...

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