Trump’s U.N. speech was funny. His worldview is even funnier.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Odd juxtapositions, absurd contrasts — these are the stuff of humor. People sometimes laugh, nervously, when someone states something that is both true and unacceptable. People sometimes laugh, uproariously, when someone states something that is both false and exaggerated. “In less than two years,” said President Trump at the U.N. General Assembly, “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” And, no, those who chuckled in response were not laughing “with” the president. Continue reading “Trump’s U.N. speech was funny. His worldview is even funnier.”

Putin’s war is transforming Ukraine

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum
  • LVIV, UKRAINE

When they first arrived in Lviv, a university rector told me, the students who came from Donetsk walked around in packs, speaking loudly in Russian. They didn’t want to speak Ukrainian, as most inhabitants of this city do; they didn’t want to integrate. Lviv is in western Ukraine, near the Polish border. Donetsk, hundreds of miles to the east, has been occupied by Russian-backed “separatists” since the Russian invasion in 2014. The new students were “internally displaced persons” — refugees in their own country. Continue reading “Putin’s war is transforming Ukraine”

How Orbán duped the Brexiteers

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

To the inhabitants of the British Isles, the nations of central Europe have always existed in a semi–mythical space, near enough to be recognised as somehow European, but too distant to be taken seriously. Neville Chamberlain dismissed them as ‘faraway countries of which we know little’; Shakespeare gave landlocked Bohemia a coastline. In British school textbooks, Poland appears for the first time in 1939 and then vanishes again, just as abruptly. Continue reading “How Orbán duped the Brexiteers”

Europe needs to start planning for a future with no U.S.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

After many weeks of claiming, dishonestly, that European allies “owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back” — in fact, Europeans spend far more money on European defense than does the United States — and after referring to NATO members as “delinquent” and worse, President Trump appears to have handed America’s European allies an ultimatum Thursday: Pay up, spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on the military, do it fast — or the United States will pull out. We can “go it alone,” he told them, by some accounts. Continue reading “Europe needs to start planning for a future with no U.S.”

Brexit turned out to be harder than they thought — so the Brexiteers are quitting

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

In the United States, a country where Cabinet members now resign with great regularity, the departures of David Davis, the British cabinet minister responsible for Britain leaving the European Union, and Boris Johnson, the shaggy-haired foreign secretary, may not seem like much of a story. Theresa May, the prime minister, for the first time in two years set out some concrete proposals for Britain’s future relationship with its most important trading partners. Davis and Johnson didn’t like them. One quit just before midnight Sunday; the other quit Monday afternoon. So what? Continue reading “Brexit turned out to be harder than they thought — so the Brexiteers are quitting”

Trump is hinting at concessions to Putin. So what do we get back?

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“We really believed in our hearts that this was the dawn of the new day we had all been praying for,” Harry Hopkins told his biographer. “We were absolutely certain that we had won the first great victory of peace.” Hopkins, one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s most important advisers, was not the only one present to have considered the Yalta Conference in February 1945 a great success. In his book on Yalta, the Harvard scholar Serhii Plokhy points out that everybody in the U.S. and British delegations, from gloomy George Kennan to cautious Winston Churchill, was pleased with the result. Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union seemed to have settled their differences, sketched out their spheres of influence and agreed that after the German capitulation, the liberated countries of Europe should all be democracies. Continue reading “Trump is hinting at concessions to Putin. So what do we get back?”

Greece offers a glimpse of life after populism

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum
  • Athens

There was a moment, at the height of the Greek debt crisis in July 2015, when many Athenians went to sleep expecting to wake up in a different country. One Greek academic told me he feared Greece would crash out of the euro currency overnight, that there would be no money in the banks in the morning, that there would be food shortages and then riots: “Greece is a middle-class country,” he told me. “I didn’t think we would be able to cope with the shock.” Several others told me that they had genuinely expected the arrival of a Venezuelan-style dictatorship, perhaps with tanks on the street. Continue reading “Greece offers a glimpse of life after populism”

Mourning the passing of Jim Denton

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  • Anne Applebaum

The reputation of Washington as a heartless, power-crazed city, a place for the hard-eyed and the coldblooded, is not entirely undeserved. There is a lot at stake in the capital of a superpower: the fate of whole countries, the shaping of culture and education, millions and billions of dollars. Many who arrive in Washington from elsewhere, starry-eyed believers in a better world, are eventually consumed by envy, or bitterness, or greed. Continue reading “Mourning the passing of Jim Denton”

The dark history behind Trump’s inflammatory language

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

It is remarkable, in retrospect, how many and varied were the dictatorships of the past century. Murderous regimes — states that killed large numbers of their own citizens for political reasons — arose in every possible type of society. Communist, fascist and tribal ideologies evolved in places whose cultural histories, economic status and religious traditions had nothing in common. Wealthy Germany and impoverished Rwanda. Buddhist Cambodia and Orthodox Russia. Continue reading “The dark history behind Trump’s inflammatory language”

In Trump’s world, morality is for losers

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“Virtue-signaling” is a snide little phrase that people vaguely of the “right” invented to tease people vaguely of the “left.” Like “limousine liberal” or “champagne socialist,” it implies insincerity and self-righteousness. Those who brag about doing something good — say, riding their bicycle to work every day — are said to be “virtue-signaling” their desire to fight climate change. Politicians who join Twitter campaigns in support of worthy causes are said to be “virtue-signaling” their belief in their own superiority. Continue reading “In Trump’s world, morality is for losers”