All Articles

Russia is lying about Syria. But Trump has no credibility to counter it.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

In the aftermath of the latest suspected chemical attack in Syria, the Russian government borrowed a tactic from President Trump. First, it denied the evidence: “False information is being planted about the alleged use of chlorine and other toxic agents by the Syrian government forces.” Then, it gave the allegations a familiar label: “fake news.” Continue reading “Russia is lying about Syria. But Trump has no credibility to counter it.”

Facebook makes the Snowden affair look quaint

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

In retrospect, the Snowden affair looks almost quaint. In 2013, the National Security Agency was accused of monitoring the metadata of Americans — telephone logs, for example — in search of patterns that would help identify terrorists. And — just imagine! — that was a major scandal. Continue reading “Facebook makes the Snowden affair look quaint”

It’s not just Russia anymore

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

At long last, people have stopped asking “Is it really happening?” or “Does it really work?” or “Does it even matter?” Facebook has acknowledged the existence of Russian disinformation on its platform and has finally banned sites created by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian institution dedicated to covert online propaganda. Twitter has removed automated Russian botnets. Hearings and major conferences in France, Britain and Brussels have convened in recent weeks to discuss possible government responses to Russian disinformation campaigns within European democracies, too. Continue reading “It’s not just Russia anymore”

The strange tale of the man who pretended to be a Trump representative

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

In the weeks after the 2016 election, European media, and especially British media, were desperate to find someone who could speak for Donald Trump. The transition team in Washington seemed to have no European links or contacts. The embassies knew nothing. Continue reading “The strange tale of the man who pretended to be a Trump representative”

Ominous cracks show in the West’s united front against Russia

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

In the end, Britain was not isolated. At least 28 countries have now agreed to expel nearly 150 Russian diplomats, in a coordinated response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon in an assassination attempt in Salisbury, a provincial English town. Even as the Russian government continues to throw out dozens of counter-explanations for the attack on Sergei Skripal (according to the British foreign office, they are now up to 24 such theories), and even as the Russian government has moved toward a tit-for-tat response, a majority of Western countries say they believe the British version of events and will stick by their decision. Continue reading “Ominous cracks show in the West’s united front against Russia”

First Russia unleashed a nerve agent. Now it’s unleashing its lie machine.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Maybe he was a drug addict; maybe he was suicidal. Maybe his British handlers decided to get rid of him; maybe it was his mother-in-law. Ever since Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, was poisoned in a provincial English town, Russian state media and Russian officials have worked overtime to provide explanations. Continue reading “First Russia unleashed a nerve agent. Now it’s unleashing its lie machine.”

Does Cambridge Analytica have my data? I have no idea. That’s the problem.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“We just put information into the bloodstream of the internet, and then … give it a little push every now and again … like a remote control. It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘that’s propaganda,’ because the moment you think ‘that’s propaganda,’ the next question is, ‘who’s put that out?’” Continue reading “Does Cambridge Analytica have my data? I have no idea. That’s the problem.”

Why does Putin treat Britain with disdain? He thinks he’s bought it.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum
  • London

“Londongrad” is the nickname, not entirely affectionate, that wealthy Russians have bestowed upon Britain’s capital. The term doesn’t just designate a physical place, though many Russians do indeed live here. Londongrad is more properly a state of mind — encompassing not only the nonresident owners of large houses in Kensington, but also the British institutions, banks, law firms, accountants, private schools, art galleries, and even the Conservative Party fundraisers that have gone out of their way to accommodate them.  Continue reading “Why does Putin treat Britain with disdain? He thinks he’s bought it.”

Rex Tillerson, R.I.P.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Few people will miss Rex Tillerson. Certainly not the State Department officials whose lives he upended with a “reform” that seemed to have no discernible goals. Certainly not the diplomats and experts whom he ignored and undermined. Certainly not the foreign diplomats he dealt with either: Tillerson didn’t have the background in diplomacy or politics to be impressive. More to the point, nobody was ever quite sure that he had the president’s ear, and nobody knew whether it was worth talking to him at all. Continue reading “Rex Tillerson, R.I.P.”

Trump’s abuses of power may not matter

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

The charges range widely, from relatively trivial abuses of privilege to completely unprecedented breaches of ethical laws and norms. The president and his son-in-law may be using American foreign policy to enrich themselves. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has broken rules to fly first-class. Foreign delegations routinely book rooms at Trump’s Washington hotel to please and enrich the president. Continue reading “Trump’s abuses of power may not matter”