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Sweden, immigrants and Trump’s post-Enlightenment world

March 12th, 2017

The Enlightenment belief that we can know and understand reality — that we can measure it, weigh it, judge it, use reason to explain it — underlies all of the achievements of Western civilization, from the scientific revolution to the Industrial Revolution to democracy itself. Ever since René Descartes asked himself how it was possible to know that melting wax is the same thing as a candle, we have believed that reason, not mythology, sensibility, emotion or instinct, provides a superior way to understand the world. But is that still true? Read on »


France’s future depends on one question — and one man

March 3rd, 2017

The issues under debate in this year’s French presidential election are broad and varied: terrorism and trade, the retirement age and social security, the legacy of France in Algeria and the future of France in Europe. But in truth, only one issue really matters: Can the heady cocktail of fear-mongering, nationalism, nostalgia, resentment, pro-Russian foreign policy and big-government economics — a philosophy that is described, unsatisfyingly, as “far right” or “populist,” that takes a particularly virulent online form and that has contributed to recent electoral victories in the United States and Britain — be defeated in a major Western country? And if so, how? Read on »


The specter of Trump in Munich

February 19th, 2017

MUNICH

Diplomatic events are always made smoother by a touch of ambiguity. But at this year’s Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering of the the transatlantic alliance, the ambiguity shaded into something a little weirder. Speaker after speaker called for unity and cohesion in the face of the grave dangers facing the Western alliance. But nobody could quite bring themselves to say the truth out loud: that one of the gravest dangers facing the Western alliance is the president of the United States. Read on »


If May embraces Trump, her ‘global Britain’ is doomed

January 26th, 2017

LONDON

Everybody else was talking about economics. But all through the Brexit referendum campaign and in the months after the vote, I worried about British geopolitics. I worried about Britain’s alliances. I worried that the protracted divorce negotiations between Britain and its closest economic and political partners would create misunderstandings and eventually anger — and indeed, this is already coming to pass. Read on »


Trump’s dark promise to return to a mythical past

January 20th, 2017

A green lawn, a white picket fence, a shining sun. Small children walk home from school; their mother, clad in an apron, waves to greet them. Father comes home in the evening from his well-paid job, the same one he has had all of his life. He greets the neighbors cheerfully — they are all men and women who look and talk like he does — and sits down to watch the 6 o’clock news while his wife makes dinner. The sun sets. Everyone sleeps well, knowing that the next day will bring no surprises. Read on »


Stop obsessing over ‘secrets’ about Trump and Russia. What we already know is bad enough.

January 13th, 2017

We now have not one but two “secret” dossiers on the Russian campaign to support Donald Trump. One of them is an unverified and probably unverifiable 35-page collection of rumors and gossip put together by a former British spy. Dumped on the Internet by BuzzFeed, the report is filled with small mistakes and some puzzles (for instance: how could salacious Russian “ kompromat ,” or compromising material, be used to blackmail someone as shameless as Trump?) and mixes the plausible with the implausible without giving real answers. Read on »


An existential moment for the Euro-American alliance

January 5th, 2017

“We are following a foreign policy which is the outward expression of the democratic faith we profess. We are doing what we can to encourage free states and free peoples throughout the world, to aid the suffering and afflicted in foreign lands, and to strengthen democratic nations against aggression.”

— Harry S. Truman, State of the Union, 1949

Since President Truman spoke those words nearly 70 years ago, every successive U.S. president has, consciously or otherwise, taken them to heart. The ideas that the United States should “strengthen democratic nations against aggression” and maintain a network of “free states and free peoples” around the world led to the creation of powerful alliances in Asia, as well as a whole host of transatlantic and European institutions that have kept Europe safe, free, prosperous and allied with the United States: the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, the Council of Europe, the European Union. Some of these institutions came with costs for the United States, but because they are the bedrock of American power in the world — because America’s allies promote American values and its interests around the world — no U.S. administration in seven decades has ever sought to undermine them. Read on »


Illiberal democracy comes to Poland

December 22nd, 2016

WARSAW — “Illiberal democracy” is an unfortunate term that exists because it’s hard to think of a better one. Many dislike the phrase, on the grounds that a leader who violates the rules of democracy should not be called “democratic” at all, but something else — perhaps “dictatorial.” Read on »


I was a victim of a Russian smear campaign. I understand the power of fake news.

December 20th, 2016

We were told in June that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by Russians. We were told in October that material subsequently passed on to WikiLeaks came from the same source. Numerous articles were written about these leaks and about Donald Trump’s many Russian connections. And yet no one was really outraged until now. Why? I have a theory: Until you have seen for yourself how 21st-century disinformation works, you laugh at the very idea of it. Once you have understood its power, you stop laughing. Read on »


Russia’s next election operation: Germany

December 12th, 2016

In the murky world of intelligence, it isn’t that often that anyone has crystal clear, absolutely certain, 100 percent guaranteed advance knowledge of a forthcoming operation. But in Europe right now, there is one prediction that everyone is happy to make: In 2017, the Russian government will mount an open campaign to sway the German elections. Read on »


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