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

  • BERLIN

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. Continue reading “The headlines are wrong: Angela Merkel’s rule is not in doubt”

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

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. Continue reading “Is this the end of the West as we know it?”

Why Americans Believe Donald Trump’s Worst Conspiracy Theories

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. Continue reading “Why Americans Believe Donald Trump’s Worst Conspiracy Theories”

The Day After the United Kingdom Leaves the EU

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. Continue reading “The Day After the United Kingdom Leaves the EU”

This Isn’t an Iranian Perestroika

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. Continue reading “This Isn’t an Iranian Perestroika”

Today’s winners may be tomorrow’s losers

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. Continue reading “Today’s winners may be tomorrow’s losers”

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

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. Continue reading “Mark Zuckerberg should spend $45 billion on undoing Facebook’s damage to democracies”

How Turkey confounded Putin’s favorite narratives

On Monday, two Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian plane which Turkey said had crossed into its airspace. Various interpretations could in theory be placed upon this event. Depending on one’s point of view, it could be described as an act of self-defense on the part of Turkey, a NATO member — or an act of aggression. But to Vladimir Putin, and to his claque in the Russian media, only one question matters: To which of his narratives should it belong? Continue reading “How Turkey confounded Putin’s favorite narratives”

Regaining control in an unsettled Europe

AMSTERDAM — Objectively speaking, the unprecedented, bloody terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night were not related to the European refugee crisis that has rumbled on for many months. Certainly the attacks could not have been caused by France’s acceptance of refugees because France, unlike Germany and Sweden, has not been accepting large numbers of refugees. Nor is it credible to believe that recently arrived refugees from the Syrian war were primarily responsible for organizing a complex series of attacks. People who climbed mountains or crossed the Mediterranean on rafts did not arrive in France and transform themselves immediately into armed terrorist killers. Continue reading “Regaining control in an unsettled Europe”

Ukraine battles a second enemy: Corruption

KIEV — A year ago, the only topic of conversation in Ukraine’s capital was the war. Did Russia want to take half the country, or just a part of that? Would there be a full-scale invasion and, if so, when would it start?

Kiev today doesn’t feel like a city at war. Local elections were underway when I was there last week, and the city was plastered with posters. Politicians offering every conceivable opinion smiled benignly at pedestrians from billboards, kiosks and bus stops. Across the country, more than 200,000 candidates from 132 parties had registered to contest seats in 10,700 local councils. Continue reading “Ukraine battles a second enemy: Corruption”