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Erdogan, Putin and the strongman ties that bind

August 11th, 2016

On a crackly Skype line from Ankara, Turkey, the story I heard was both new and strangely familiar. I was speaking to an academic, a man with a belief in freedom and free markets, and he was telling me about the arrests, detentions and firings of his colleagues. Sahin Alpay, a 72-year-old liberal journalist with wide European contacts. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights activist and journalist. Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations and theorist of democracy. Lale Kemal, a journalist who writes about the military and security. And there were others. Read on »


Why we need a President Clinton

July 28th, 2016

Vladimir Putin is not a Bond villain, the Kremlin is not Spectre and, in the real world, we don’t need Daniel Craig to push back against Russia’s hybrid foreign policy. But we do need to elect Hillary Clinton for president. If we don’t, as we learned in recent days, we’ll be led by a man who appears bent on destroying the alliances that preserve international peace and American power, a man who cheerfully approves of hostile foreign intervention in a U.S. election campaign. And please remember: If that’s how he feels about Russia, there’s no guarantee that he’ll feel any different about China or Iran. Read on »


Connecting the dots: How Russia benefits from the DNC email leak

July 25th, 2016

The emails of Sony employees. Top-secret diplomatic cables. The addresses of married people who used a confidential dating service. Every time “secret” information is made public, the focus of attention is always, immediately, on the sensational details. The motives of the hacker, the leaker or the person in possession of the secret tapes are rarely examined. But what to do when that person has an ulterior motive quite far from “the public’s right to know”? And what if that person’s motive is to help throw an American election? Read on »


How a Trump presidency could destabilize Europe

July 21st, 2016

The secret plot to control America, launched from abroad, is an old theme in American pop culture. “The Manchurian Candidate,” a film made in 1962, imagined a Chinese scheme to engineer a coup d’etat. Aficionados of paranoid thrillers may also recall “Lucky Bastard,” a 1998 Charles McCarry novel, which featured a U.S. president controlled by a Soviet case officer who happens to be his wife. Read on »


The real damage done by Melania Trump’s speech

July 20th, 2016

Listening to faux-outraged pundits talking all day about how Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech illustrates the dysfunction of the Trump campaign and the Republican National Convention, I can’t help but think they have it all wrong. The damage done by her speech has nothing to do with campaign disaster and everything to do with the fact that it reinforced two powerful stereotypes. Read on »


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 »


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