How the U.S. and Britain help kleptocracies around the world — and how we pay the price as well

Correction: This blog post incorrectly suggested that the Beaurepaire Park estate is owned by Yuri Luzhkov. In fact, the sole beneficial owner of the estate is Mr. Luzhkov’s wife, Elena Baturina, according to records provided by an attorney for the couple.

In the village of Bramley, Hampshire, an English country estate is undergoing a major renovation. A large crane can be seen from the road, along with wide lawns and the old trees of an elegant park. Beaurepaire Park was pointed out to me a few weeks ago by locals who told me the surprising name of their new neighbor: Yuri Luzhkov, the former mayor of Moscow. Continue reading “How the U.S. and Britain help kleptocracies around the world — and how we pay the price as well”

The danger of Russian disinformation

Anne Applebaum, a Post columnist, and Edward Lucas, a senior editor at the Economist, are this week launching a counter-disinformation initiative at the Center for European Policy Analysis, where they are, respectively, senior vice president and senior adjunct fellow.

Fifteen years ago, the idea that foreign disinformation might be a problem for European countries seemed ludicrous. Free media looked as triumphant as free markets; Western television and newspapers had comfortable funding and big audiences. But the business model that once supported media across the continent, indeed all across the West, no longer works. Much Western journalism is poorly resourced, and the proliferation of information has made it harder for people to judge the accuracy of what they see and read. Continue reading “The danger of Russian disinformation”

The ‘Trump effect’ will help authoritarians around the world

It’s too late. Even if Hillary Clinton beats him in November, even if the Republican Party is wiped out in the polls, Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican presidential candidate has already dealt an enormous blow to the reputation of the American political system, and indeed to the reputation of democracy itself. There will be many consequences to the Trump nomination, both in the United States and abroad. But here is one to start with: The vulgar, vicious, dirty Clinton v. Trump campaign that will play out over the next six months will further shore up the positions of dictators and autocrats around the world. Continue reading “The ‘Trump effect’ will help authoritarians around the world”

Don’t be fooled by Trump’s foreign policy speech

If you weren’t already convinced that parody is now the central art form of our era, then Donald Trump’s grand foreign policy speech yesterday was the proof. All of the elements of spoof “foreign policy seriousness” were in place. The introduction from a serious foreign policy figure, Zalmay Khalilzad. The sponsorship by a serious foreign policy magazine, the National Interest. Continue reading “Don’t be fooled by Trump’s foreign policy speech”

Why Obama is right to urge Britain to stay in the E.U.

Barack Obama has a full schedule in London this week. There is lunch with the Queen, on the occasion of her 90th birthday. There is dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Will and Kate. There are talks with the prime minister, David Cameron, about the appalling state of the world. And then, perhaps, with Cameron’s approval, the president may pronounce a few sentences encouraging the British to stay in the European Union. In mere anticipation of these words, Obama has already been attacked by anti-E.U. campaigners as “nakedly hypocritical” and the “most anti-British president in U.S. history.” Continue reading “Why Obama is right to urge Britain to stay in the E.U.”

The Dutch just showed the world how Russia influences Western European elections

In a vague sort of way, many people are aware that the Russian government provides material and moral support to extremist political groups in Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked her security officials to look into Russian influence in German online media. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, has taken loans from a Russian bank to fund her party, and is asking for more. Continue reading “The Dutch just showed the world how Russia influences Western European elections”

After Brussels, the West must reject dangerous isolationism


I was in London on Sept. 11, 2001, when it was impossible to call home because the lines were down; in that pre-smartphone era, it was also impossible to know what was going on, unless there was a television screen nearby. Cut off though I was, I felt surrounded by friends. Upon hearing my accent, shop assistants and taxi drivers asked after my parents: Had I spoken to them yet? Could they help? That night, the Tory party called off its leadership election; the German chancellor spoke of a “war against the entire civilized world.” The NATO ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, unanimously invoked the NATO treaty: An attack on one member state is an attack on all. Continue reading “After Brussels, the West must reject dangerous isolationism”

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


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”