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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 »

What ‘cheese pizza’ means to the Internet’s conspiracy-mongers

December 9th, 2016

In the past few days, there have been many excellent accounts of the armed man who showed up at Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, and the various con artists and purveyors of fake news who inspired him to believe he would discover a secret group of pedophiles in its nonexistent basement. But one detail, supplied by a 16-year-old of my acquaintance, has been missing from many of the “mainstream” articles: the fact that, in some of the weirder Internet forums this particular teenager frequents, “cheese pizza” — a phrase used in one of John Podesta’s leaked emails — was assumed to be code for “child pornography.” Read on »

Britain has no idea what to do next, and that’s dangerous

December 1st, 2016

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does government. If no one knows what to do, if there is chaos and indecision, then the person with the clearest vision — for good or for ill — wins the argument. That’s the lesson of the Russian Revolution, of Weimar Germany, and, without meaning to overdramatize — we are not talking about events on that scale — that’s also the lesson of Brexit Britain. Read on »

A hope that Castro’s death allows Cubans to finally confront their tragic past

November 26th, 2016

Thanksgiving weekend brought my geographically scattered family together for a few days, and we decided to spend one of them at the 9/11 museum in New York. Our group contained several generations and a range of opinions. But as we walked through the exhibits, the most notable divide was between the adults who remembered that strange day in excruciating detail, and the children who did not remember it at all. Read on »

Can Michael Flynn overhaul NATO?

November 18th, 2016

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

– Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, April 4, 1949

Throughout the more than 60 years of its existence, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has only once invoked Article 5, the provision that calls for the signatories to defend one another – follow the proper consultations – if attacked. Only once. Read on »

Advice from Europe for anti-Trump protesters

November 16th, 2016

Forgive me for what is going to sound like an odd analogy, but the street demonstrations across the United States have given me an uncanny sense of deja vu. Read on »

Is America still the leader of the free world?

November 9th, 2016


For the United States and for Europe, the moment of reckoning has now arrived: The West as we know it is nearing the end of its life. The United States of America has just elected as president a man who not only brags about groping women and swindles his business partners but also openly dislikes America’s traditional allies — and Europeans most of all. Read on »

Trump is a threat to the West as we know it, even if he loses

November 4th, 2016

They share ideas and ideology, friends and funders. They cross borders to appear at one another’s rallies. They have deep contacts in Russia — they often use Russian disinformation — as well as friends in other authoritarian states. They despise the West and seek to undermine Western institutions. They think of themselves as a revolutionary avant-garde just like, once upon a time, the Communist International, or Comintern, the Soviet-backed organization that linked communist parties around Europe and the world. Now, of course, they are not Soviet-backed, and they are not communist. But this loose group of parties and politicians — Austria’s Freedom Party, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the UK Independence Party, Hungary’s Fidesz, Poland’s Law and Justice, Donald Trump — have made themselves into a global movement of “anti-globalists.” Meet the “Populist International”: Whoever wins the U.S. election Tuesday, its influence is here to stay. Read on »

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