The Czech election says more about the state of Western democracy than we’d like to admit

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  • Anne Applebaum

He isn’t the country’s most important politician. In the Czech Republic, as in many European countries, the prime minister is far more powerful than the president. Nevertheless, the Czech president represents his country abroad, speaks on its behalf and generally helps set the tone and tenor of public debate, much like the American president does in the United States. And without question, the reelection of Milos Zeman — who is vulgar and sexist (not to mention aggressively pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, anti-European and anti-NATO) and has been accused of public drunkenness — will set the tone and tenor of public life in the Czech Republic. Continue reading “The Czech election says more about the state of Western democracy than we’d like to admit”

‘Since the violence ended’: Peace, even if imperfect, comes to Colombia

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  • Anne Applebaum
  • Cartagena, Columbia

On the journey up the Sierra Nevada to the San Lorenzo ridge, a very few abandoned military posts — forlorn bits of concrete, now green and crumbling — can be glimpsed along the side of the rutted jungle road. But there are no soldiers visible here, in one of the world’s most important bird sanctuaries. The only “uniforms” on display early in the morning are those of the birdwatchers, dressed in green and beige, wearing sensible shoes, carrying notebooks and binoculars. Continue reading “‘Since the violence ended’: Peace, even if imperfect, comes to Colombia”

Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them

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  • Anne Applebaum

By now we are all familiar with the Russian disinformation campaigns, designed to undermine democracy and sow distrust, which are present in many Western countries. The many uses of Russian corruption — the companies deployed for the political ends of the state, the banks and oligarchs who sponsor foreign politicians — are well known, too. But they aren’t the whole story. For an underfunded ex-superpower trying to regain influence on the cheap, money and trolls only go so far. Continue reading “Russia finds young men who love guns — and grooms them”

The America Europe needs right now is missing

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

No one has yet nailed down who really runs them or funds them, although Czech journalists have spent years trying. That hasn’t stopped the 30-odd “pro-Russian” websites in the Czech Republic from churning out a daily diet of conspiracy theory, slander, invented scandals about nonexistent Muslim migrants and attacks on the United States, NATO and the European Union — as well as praise for Russia and for the pro-Russian Czech president, Milos Zeman. Continue reading “The America Europe needs right now is missing”

The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation

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  • Anne Applebaum

She’s a self-made billionaire, as opposed to one who inherited much of his money and business. She’s a genuine philanthropist, with a real foundation instead of one under a cloud. She unites people instead of dividing them, promotes positive emotions instead of hatred and fear, seems the perfect antidote to the sour, bigoted occupant of the White House. Nevertheless, the fact that anyone takes “Oprah for president” seriously is yet another illustration of how degraded American democracy has become. Continue reading “The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation”

The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

She’s a self-made billionaire, as opposed to one who inherited much of his money and business. She’s a genuine philanthropist, with a real foundation instead of one under a cloud. She unites people instead of dividing them, promotes positive emotions instead of hatred and fear, seems the perfect antidote to the sour, bigoted occupant of the White House. Nevertheless, the fact that anyone takes “Oprah for president” seriously is yet another illustration of how degraded American democracy has become. Continue reading “The ‘Oprah in 2020’ talk is proof of our democracy’s degradation”

The Trumps and Kushners may spell the end of the Wilsonian world

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  • Anne Applebaum

The optimism, the enthusiasm, the breathless naivete: To reread Woodrow Wilson’s canonic “Fourteen Points” speech, given to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 8, 1918 — 100 years ago — is to enter a world that no longer exists. Particularly when read alongside the speech Wilson made the previous year — the one arguing that the United States should enter World War I to make the world “safe for democracy” — the language almost shocks, especially compared with the rhetoric preferred by the White House’s current inhabitant. Continue reading “The Trumps and Kushners may spell the end of the Wilsonian world”

The euphemisms I refuse to use in 2018

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  • Anne Applebaum

In columns or commentary, one sometimes needs to simplify in order to save space. But here’s my New Year’s resolution: In the coming 12 months, I will try to avoid the expressions “far right” and “populist” whenever possible. They are catch-all adjectives, useful in describing a general phenomenon. But they are also euphemisms, and they disguise what’s at stake. Continue reading “The euphemisms I refuse to use in 2018”

Poland is illegally dismantling its own constitution. Can the E.U. do anything?

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  • Anne Applebaum

It’s never been easy for Americans — or for many Europeans — to understand the European Union, so let me offer an analogy: Think of the United States in the years after the revolution but before the ratification of the Constitution, when the Articles of Confederation allowed Congress to make laws but provided no executive branch or court system to carry them out. That’s the situation of the E.U. today. Continue reading “Poland is illegally dismantling its own constitution. Can the E.U. do anything?”

How Doug Jones won

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“How did he do it?” That’s the question I was asked more than once by European friends the day after Alabama’s Senate election: How did Doug Jones win? The question was not idle. In many ways, the electoral challenge Jones faced in Alabama was strikingly similar to the challenge facing European politicians of the center-left and even — or maybe especially — the center-right: How to defeat racist, xenophobic or homophobic candidates who are supported by a passionate, unified minority? Or, to put it differently: How to get the majority — which is often complacent rather than passionate, and divided rather than unified — to vote? Continue reading “How Doug Jones won”