In Trump’s White House, foreign policy is now made on a whim

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Quite a few Europeans woke up Tuesday morning to sunshine (the weather is finally good here) and some cheerful news: The Trump administration would not, in fact, be slapping steel and aluminum tariffs on the continent, and the European Union would not, in fact, be responding with tariffs of its own. Even the night before, no one knew what the White House would decide. Extraordinary preparations had already been made. The E.U.’s trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, had drawn up a list of carefully chosen retaliatory tariffs, including one on motorcycles (meant to affect Harley-Davidson Inc., which is based in Wisconsin, the home state of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan) as well as bourbon (from Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell). Continue reading “In Trump’s White House, foreign policy is now made on a whim”

People power worked in Armenia. It won’t work everywhere.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“When I saw the masses of East German citizens there, I knew they were in the right.” A quarter-century later, that was how Lt. Col. Harald Jäger explained his decision to open the gates and let his fellow citizens through the Berlin Wall. Jäger was guarding a border checkpoint on Nov. 9, 1989, in the hours after East German leaders had announced that the travel rules were changing. As Berliners flocked to the wall, demanding to cross into the West, he asked repeatedly for clarification from his superiors, but nothing was forthcoming. Continue reading “People power worked in Armenia. It won’t work everywhere.”

There are many ways for democracy to fail

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“I hope that one day we’d be able to return to a country we recognize.” For the first time since she was murdered by a car bomb six months ago, members of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family have spoken publicly about the circumstances that led to her death. Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist who wrote about corruption and money laundering in a country that had turned a blind eye to it. As one of her sons says in a video recorded by an international consortium set up to continue her investigations, she was “fighting to hold Malta and Maltese society to a higher standard.” Continue reading “There are many ways for democracy to fail”

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.”