Boris Johnson isn’t the cause of Britain’s unseriousness. He’s the product of it.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“The Tories, in their terror, have elevated a cavorting charlatan to the steps of Downing Street.” Those are the words of Sir Max Hastings, writing in the Guardian on June 24. Hastings is the former editor of the Daily Telegraph, the conservative British newspaper that has loyally backed the Tory party for generations. Like many other Tories (and ex-Tories), Hastings is grappling with the fact that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, now one of two remaining candidates, is very likely to be Britain’s prime minister when the 160,000 party members vote on July 22 for a new leader. “His elevation,” writes Hastings, “will signal Britain’s abandonment of any claim to be a serious country.” Continue reading “Boris Johnson isn’t the cause of Britain’s unseriousness. He’s the product of it.”

Putin’s attack on Western values was familiar. The American reaction was not.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Russian scorn for liberal democracy has a long history, and a certain kind of Russian disdain for the West is nothing new. As far back as 1920, Lenin declared that parliaments were “historically obsolete” and predicted that it was just a matter of time before they disappeared. In 1956, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev famously said that “history is on our side.” The Soviet Union was winning, he said, and the West was dying: “We will bury you.” Continue reading “Putin’s attack on Western values was familiar. The American reaction was not.”

Unlearning the lessons from Chernobyl

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Five years after the Chernobyl disaster, in the summer of 1991, the last summer the Soviet Union was still in existence, I visited Ukraine. I trekked out to the 20-mile exclusion zone — it had been cleared of all people after the accident — together with some local environmental activists. We brought Geiger counters, which indeed ticked upward as we got nearer to the reactor, but not in any way that was conclusive. We also talked to a local doctor, whom I remember as not very forthcoming. Some people told us of two-headed pigs and mutated cows, but others dismissed them as rumors. Continue reading “Unlearning the lessons from Chernobyl”

Want to secretly, legally send money to Jared Kushner? Here’s how to do it.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Imagine there was a completely secret, perfectly legal way to bribe a government official. Well, let’s not say “bribe”: Let’s imagine that you could channel money to this official — large amounts of money — and never have to reveal your name. Imagine that this official could accept this money, and then use it to make more money, without ever revealing that fact to the public. Continue reading “Want to secretly, legally send money to Jared Kushner? Here’s how to do it.”

If someone like Trump had been president in 1944, D-Day never would have happened

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

I spent part of the D-Day anniversary this year in London — not at the celebration in Portsmouth, England, but at the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI) annual Land Warfare Conference, an equally fitting venue. There were no heads of state, no veterans, no ships; this was, instead, a modern incarnation of the alliance that fought on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago. In a lovely room with a rotunda ceiling and wood paneling, several hundred civilians and soldiers in a wide variety of uniforms gathered to hear generals, ambassadors and defense experts talk about new security challenges. If there were ever again an invasion of Europe, or indeed of North America, these are the people who would be called upon to defend the West. Continue reading “If someone like Trump had been president in 1944, D-Day never would have happened”

Britain is in crisis. So why is President Trump coming to visit?

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Britain is in the grip of an unprecedented political meltdown, a crisis on a scale that was unthinkable even six months ago. The prime minister has resigned and is leaving office within days. Support for the two historic political parties, Labour and Conservative, is at an all-time low. In hastily planned European Parliament elections last week, the brand new Brexit Party came in first, while two anti-Brexit parties, the tiny Liberal Democrats and the even tinier Greens, came in second and fourth. The ruling Tory party finished a distant fifth. Continue reading “Britain is in crisis. So why is President Trump coming to visit?”

Amid fractures, Europe is becoming a single political space

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Elections are always a Rorschach test — people look at the results and see what they want to see. But the European parliamentary elections that took place over the past several days provided an unusually large set of results, upon which an unusually large number of people are placing their conclusions. Those who wanted to prove a thesis about the inevitable rise of the far right can find examples to work with. Those who think Europe will resist that rise can also find examples to work with. But what if both of these things are true? Continue reading “Amid fractures, Europe is becoming a single political space”

There’s no point in wishing luck to Theresa May’s successor

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

And, just like that, she’s gone. Theresa May, the least successful British prime minister in living memory, has resigned. So much agonizing, so much plotting, so many secret plans to get rid of her over so many months have failed. But following a European parliamentary election that saw her Conservative Party crash to historic lows, she has finally thrown in the towel. Bizarrely, she wants to hang around so that she can host President Trump in early June — her reasoning here, as in so many other areas, is unfathomable — and then she will go. Continue reading “There’s no point in wishing luck to Theresa May’s successor”

Yes, Europe’s far right is gaining strength. But so is the resistance.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

I’ve written a lot, it’s true, about the new far-right parties in Europe in recent months, including their use of the Internet to amplify anger, the conspiracy theories they rely upon and their Russian connections — all of which helps to explain why they may score a big victory in this week’s European Parliament elections. But it’s worth remembering that there is another side to this story. The politics of President Trump and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, and the disaster of Brexit, have also produced a backlash: Pro-European politicians, highly conscious of past mistakes, are also gaining in strength. And they are thinking hard about what to do next. Continue reading “Yes, Europe’s far right is gaining strength. But so is the resistance.”

How Europe’s ‘Identitarians’ are mainstreaming racism

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Was it an invitation to cocktails or the start of a far-right conspiracy? In Europe, these days, it can be hard to tell. But this week Austrian media are reporting that the links between Martin Sellner and Brenton Tarrant were rather more extensive. Sellner is the clean-cut leader of the Austrian Identitarian Movement; Tarrant is the man charged with shooting up two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The two exchanged emails in 2018 after Tarrant made a donation to the Identitarians; Sellner sent Tarrant a link to his YouTube page and invited him for a beer in Vienna. Tarrant booked a hotel in Vienna, though we don’t know if he got there. Continue reading “How Europe’s ‘Identitarians’ are mainstreaming racism”