Donald Trump: Spokesman for birthers, truthers, and Internet trolls

“It’s probably the same person, writing 16 different comments under 15 different names.” That’s how a friend’s son recently shrugged off a social media spat he’d been involved in at his university. There had been some nasty name-calling and a few violent threats, but he wasn’t bothered: He reckoned the anger, racism and vitriol he had encountered on Twitter and Facebook weren’t “real.” They didn’t affect real politics, or real life. Continue reading “Donald Trump: Spokesman for birthers, truthers, and Internet trolls”

Robert Conquest and the need for the courage to illuminate the truth

At least 40 years ago, back when the Soviet Union still existed and the Berlin Wall still stood, the KGB searched the apartment of a Russian friend of mine. Inevitably, the agents found what they were looking for: his large collection of samizdat, illegally printed magazines and books. They pounced on them, rifled through them — and then one held up my friend’s contraband copy of Robert Conquest’s most famous book, “The Great Terror.” “Excellent, we’ve been wanting to read this for a long time,” he declared. Or words to that effect. Continue reading “Robert Conquest and the need for the courage to illuminate the truth”

Helping Russia’s sidelined and exiled journalists tell their stories

When I first met Yevgenia Albats, it was the 1990s, the Soviet Union had just ceased to exist and she was a rising star in the new Russian journalism — one of many. The explosion of creativity in Russian media in that era is one of the post-Soviet miracles that no one has ever quite explained. The gray and mendacious Soviet press suddenly collapsed beneath the weight of its own tedium. Into the vacuum stepped witty writers, serious columnists and dedicated journalists such as Albats, one of the first real investigative reporters in Russia. Where did they all come from? Continue reading “Helping Russia’s sidelined and exiled journalists tell their stories”

Greece is a turning point for the E.U.

On July 20, the government of Greece is supposed to pay 3.5 billion euros to the European Central Bank. Writing now, more than a week before that debt is due, I am loath to predict what will happen. Clearly, the government of Greece doesn’t have 3.5 billion euros. An emergency meeting of European leaders Sunday might come up with a solution, but it might not. The consequences of a failure could include the collapse of the Greek banking system and a disorderly Greek exit from the euro currency, with knock-on effects on dozens of institutions that are exposed to Greek debt. Continue reading “Greece is a turning point for the E.U.”

It’s the Greek politics, stupid

Default, bankruptcy, Grexit, crash: If you feel you’ve read before that these things were about to happen in Greece, that’s because you have. Every debate about Greece’s financial crisis deteriorates rapidly into a discussion of deadlines: repayments, refinancings, meetings of the International Monetary Fund or the European Central Bank. Until now, these deadlines have always resulted in further delay. Another one is coming on June 30. That’s when Greece owes another $1.7 billion it doesn’t have. Continue reading “It’s the Greek politics, stupid”

America’s foreign policy recovery

  • LONDON

Several times lately — often enough for it to have become a distinct pattern — I’ve found myself part of a heated discussion, somewhere in Europe. Maybe it’s at a dinner or a conference; maybe the topic is Russia, Libya or the economic crisis in Greece. But at some point, someone looks up in wonder. “Isn’t it odd: We haven’t mentioned the United States once!” Yes, everyone agrees, it’s odd! And then the subject changes again. Continue reading “America’s foreign policy recovery”

The end of Britain as we know it

  • LONDON

This election will be remembered as the one that rescued the career of David Cameron, the British prime minister, who was publicly contemplating his own exit from politics only two months ago. It will also be remembered as the election that abruptly ended the career of the Labor Party leader, Ed Miliband, who had confidently carved his electoral promises onto a large piece of limestone only last week. Above all, it will be remembered as the election that every single major pollster got wrong: All the dire talk of hung parliaments, minority coalitions and the intervention, even, of the queen has vanished with the emergence of a solid Conservative majority. But long after these various dramas are forgotten, it might also be remembered as the election that marked the beginning of the end of Great Britain, at least in the form that we now know it. Continue reading “The end of Britain as we know it”

How Libya continues to flummox Europe

When I was in Libya a couple of years ago, I met a man who was on a European Union mission. If memory serves, he was writing a report on the Libyan media for an E.U. institution, or perhaps an E.U.-funded one. In any case, he was walking around Tripoli, earnestly conducting interviews and holding meetings at the union’s expense. Continue reading “How Libya continues to flummox Europe”

FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust

The Polish ambassador to Washington has protested, the Polish president has protested, the speaker of the Polish parliament (to whom I am married) has protested — and the U.S. ambassador to Warsaw has apologized profusely. Why? Because James Comey, the director of the FBI, in a speech that was reprinted in The Post arguing for more Holocaust education, demonstrated just how badly he needs it himself. Continue reading “FBI director got it wrong on the Holocaust”

When it comes to politics, the U.S. and Britain could learn from each other

  • LONDON

Every once in a while, it’s worth pausing to ponder the relative merits of different kinds of democracy. Just consider: This week, Hillary Clinton published a two-minute video and launched what will be a grueling 18-month campaign. Also this week, the main British political parties published their longish, wonkish election manifestos and launched the final three weeks of a general-election campaign that began three weeks ago. Continue reading “When it comes to politics, the U.S. and Britain could learn from each other”