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New cabinet may signal Britain’s retreat as a Western power

July 14th, 2016

In fact, I get the logic. Theresa May’s first set of appointments — Liam Fox will become minister for international trade, David Davis will run the exit negotiations, and Boris Johnson will be foreign secretary — make a lot of sense. She has put hard-line Brexit proponents in charge of negotiating Britain’s retreat from European politics. It will be impossible, from now on, for anyone to argue that voters were cheated. If these three men can’t manage the United Kingdom’s divorce proceedings, then nobody can. Read on »


‘Mommy wars’ enter Britain’s political arena

July 12th, 2016

With customary ruthlessness, Britain’s Conservative Party has dispensed with Prime Minister David Cameron and ended its nine-week leadership “campaign” eight and a half weeks early. Theresa May will take over the party, and the country, on Wednesday. The Camerons will move out of Downing Street, and the Mays will move in. The king is dead; long live the queen. Read on »


After Brexit, Britain suddenly becomes European

July 7th, 2016

Boris out. Gove up; Gove down. May saves the day; no, she’s too authoritarian. Leadsom comes from behind; no, she’s too inexperienced. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you weren’t following the minute-by-minute twists of British politics over the past few days. Having lost its leader and the country’s prime minister — David Cameron resigned on June 24, after losing the referendum to keep Britain in the European Union — the ruling Conservative Party must choose a new one. As I watched this baroque process unfold in London, I realized that I just couldn’t write about the backstabbing, the personal betrayals, the resentments and jealousies, some of which date back 30 years to student political debates at the Oxford Union. Read on »


What the media gets wrong about Brexit

June 27th, 2016

“The British vote against the European Union represented the revolt of the poor against the rich, the provinces against the metropolis, the losers of globalization against the elite.” I’m sure you’ve heard some version of that general analysis of last week’s Brexit vote. It’s a fine-sounding cliché. But before it hardens into conventional wisdom, please remember that, like so many of the facts sold to the public during this referendum campaign, it isn’t entirely true. Read on »


Brace yourself for another wave of drowning refugees — unless Europe takes action

June 1st, 2016

“I took hold of the forearm of the baby and pulled the light body protectively into my arms at once, as if it were still alive … It held out its arms with tiny fingers into the air, the sun shone into its bright, friendly but motionless eyes.” — Martin, a volunteer at Sea-Watch, May 27 Read on »


The rise of national socialism: Why Austria’s revolution is not over

May 23rd, 2016

It’s been highly amusing to watch the international press struggle to describe Norbert Hofer, the candidate who has just lost, by a tiny handful of votes, the Austrian presidential election. Hofer bitterly opposes immigration and uses nostalgic language about “pan-German” culture, views which place him in the “far-right” category of European politics. At the same time, he and his Freedom Party denounce the “neoliberal” economic consensus and deplore the evils of international capitalism — views that place him in the “far-left” category of European politics. Read on »


Fact-checking in a ‘post-fact world’

May 19th, 2016

You are about to read a newspaper article. Do you care whether all the facts in it are true? If so — what could convince you that they are or are not? A friend? A neutral website? Someone in authority?

If you aren’t really sure, then welcome to the world of fact-checking. In the past several years, as it has become easier to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories on the Internet, politically neutral fact-checking websites have sprung up in response. The Post itself created an early version, the “Fact Checker” column, led by Glenn Kessler, which awards up to four “Pinocchios” for dubious statements made by politicians from both political parties, depending on their level of outrageousness. Others include PolitiFact.com, FullFact.org in Britain, Chequeado in Argentina and StopFake.org in Ukraine. Read on »


How the U.S. and Britain help kleptocracies around the world — and how we pay the price as well

May 13th, 2016

Correction: This blog post incorrectly suggested that the Beaurepaire Park estate is owned by Yuri Luzhkov. In fact, the sole beneficial owner of the estate is Mr. Luzhkov’s wife, Elena Baturina, according to records provided by an attorney for the couple.

In the village of Bramley, Hampshire, an English country estate is undergoing a major renovation. A large crane can be seen from the road, along with wide lawns and the old trees of an elegant park. Beaurepaire Park was pointed out to me a few weeks ago by locals who told me the surprising name of their new neighbor: Yuri Luzhkov, the former mayor of Moscow. Read on »


The danger of Russian disinformation

May 6th, 2016

Anne Applebaum, a Post columnist, and Edward Lucas, a senior editor at the Economist, are this week launching a counter-disinformation initiative at the Center for European Policy Analysis, where they are, respectively, senior vice president and senior adjunct fellow.

Fifteen years ago, the idea that foreign disinformation might be a problem for European countries seemed ludicrous. Free media looked as triumphant as free markets; Western television and newspapers had comfortable funding and big audiences. But the business model that once supported media across the continent, indeed all across the West, no longer works. Much Western journalism is poorly resourced, and the proliferation of information has made it harder for people to judge the accuracy of what they see and read. Read on »


The ‘Trump effect’ will help authoritarians around the world

May 4th, 2016

It’s too late. Even if Hillary Clinton beats him in November, even if the Republican Party is wiped out in the polls, Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican presidential candidate has already dealt an enormous blow to the reputation of the American political system, and indeed to the reputation of democracy itself. There will be many consequences to the Trump nomination, both in the United States and abroad. But here is one to start with: The vulgar, vicious, dirty Clinton v. Trump campaign that will play out over the next six months will further shore up the positions of dictators and autocrats around the world. Read on »


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