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Why Obama is right to urge Britain to stay in the E.U.

April 21st, 2016

Barack Obama has a full schedule in London this week. There is lunch with the Queen, on the occasion of her 90th birthday. There is dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Will and Kate. There are talks with the prime minister, David Cameron, about the appalling state of the world. And then, perhaps, with Cameron’s approval, the president may pronounce a few sentences encouraging the British to stay in the European Union. In mere anticipation of these words, Obama has already been attacked by anti-E.U. campaigners as “nakedly hypocritical” and the “most anti-British president in U.S. history.” Read on »

The Dutch just showed the world how Russia influences Western European elections

April 8th, 2016

In a vague sort of way, many people are aware that the Russian government provides material and moral support to extremist political groups in Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked her security officials to look into Russian influence in German online media. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, has taken loans from a Russian bank to fund her party, and is asking for more. Read on »

After Brussels, the West must reject dangerous isolationism

March 22nd, 2016


I was in London on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was impossible to call home because the lines were down; in that pre-smartphone era, it was also impossible to know what was going on, unless there was a television screen nearby. Cut off though I was, I felt surrounded by friends. Upon hearing my accent, shop assistants and taxi drivers asked after my parents: Had I spoken to them yet? Could they help? That night, the Tory party called off its leadership election; the German chancellor spoke of a “war against the entire civilized world.” The NATO ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, unanimously invoked the NATO treaty: An attack on one member state is an attack on all. Read on »

The headlines are wrong: Angela Merkel’s rule is not in doubt

March 17th, 2016


The Daily Mail wrote of the “return of the far right” and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “poisonous legacy.” The Daily Telegraph trumpeted “Germany’s rejection of the pro-immigration establishment.” Le Monde wrote of “Merkel’s defeat.” After Germany’s regional elections last weekend, article after article, all across Europe, focused on the Alternative für Deutschland, the far-right party that hit a high of 24 percent support in Saxony, as well as victories for the Social Democrats and Greens in two of three state elections. Read on »

Is this the end of the West as we know it?

March 4th, 2016

Back in the 1950s, when the institutions were still new and shaky, I’m sure many people feared the Western alliance
might never take off. Perhaps in the 1970s, the era of the Red Brigades and Vietnam, many more feared that the
West would not survive. But in my adult life, I cannot remember a moment as dramatic as this: Right now, we are
two or three bad elections away from the end of NATO, the end of the European Union and maybe the end of the
liberal world order as we know it. Read on »

Why Americans Believe Donald Trump’s Worst Conspiracy Theories

February 18th, 2016

Some are trying to explain the unexplainable. Others aren’t looking for the truth.

“They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”
—Donald Trump, on the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Feb. 16

In the past several months, far too much time has been spent in analysis of the “anger” being expressed by the supporters of Donald Trump. Not nearly enough time has been spent examining another central aspect of his appeal: His penchant for conspiracy theories. Trump’s first big contribution to national politics was his vigorous support for “birtherism”—the belief, against a vast range of evidence, that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. One of his first major contributions to this presidential race was the statement that on Sept. 11, “thousands and thousands” of Muslims gathered in New Jersey gathered to cheer as the twin towers burned. Read on »

The Day After the United Kingdom Leaves the EU

February 8th, 2016

If the British people vote to end their country’s relationship with the European Union in a referendum, the world will not end. The sky will not come crashing down to Earth; the oceans will not submerge the land. Or at least we think they won’t. Because in actual fact, we have absolutely no idea what will happen. Read on »

This Isn’t an Iranian Perestroika

January 22nd, 2016

Sanctions have been lifted on Iran, and a moment of change has arrived. President Obama has called this “a unique opportunity—a window—to try to resolve important issues.” The brilliant ex-diplomat Nicholas Burns has said we are at a “potential turning point in the modern history of the Middle East.” And of course they are right. The diplomacy of the Middle East will now change, for better or for worse, forever. Read on »

Today’s winners may be tomorrow’s losers

December 25th, 2015

George Washington and his troops spent Christmas Day 1776 along the Delaware River, preparing for a dangerous night crossing. The wind was blowing hard; the water was filled with floating chunks of broken ice. One 16-year-old soldier remembered that “it rained, hailed, snowed and froze, and at the same time blew a perfect hurricane,” although historian David McCullough observed that the wind was a blessing: It covered the noise of the crossing and allowed Washington’s army to carry out a victorious attack on the village of Trenton. Read on »

Mark Zuckerberg should spend $45 billion on undoing Facebook’s damage to democracies

December 10th, 2015

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he wants to give away $45 billion. I’m sure he needs some advice on how to spend it. Here’s mine: He should use it to undo the terrible damage done by Facebook and other forms of social media to democratic debate and civilized discussion all over the world. Read on »

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