The specter of Trump in Munich

  • MUNICH

Diplomatic events are always made smoother by a touch of ambiguity. But at this year’s Munich Security Conference, the annual gathering of the the transatlantic alliance, the ambiguity shaded into something a little weirder. Speaker after speaker called for unity and cohesion in the face of the grave dangers facing the Western alliance. But nobody could quite bring themselves to say the truth out loud: that one of the gravest dangers facing the Western alliance is the president of the United States. Continue reading “The specter of Trump in Munich”

“What happens to us?” Why Sweden is so worried about the Trump administration

A winter evening in Stockholm, lights glinting in the harbor, snow falling outside. “And what about us,” I am asked, “up here in the North? What happens to us?” My Swedish companions are journalists, analysts and civil servants, people who care about their country’s national security. Though neither elite nor wealthy, they do share a worldview. They think their country’s prosperity depends on the European Union and its open markets. They also think their safety depends on the United States’ commitment to Europe. And since President Trump took office, they suddenly find themselves staring into an unfathomable abyss. Continue reading ““What happens to us?” Why Sweden is so worried about the Trump administration”

If May embraces Trump, her ‘global Britain’ is doomed

  • LONDON

Everybody else was talking about economics. But all through the Brexit referendum campaign and in the months after the vote, I worried about British geopolitics. I worried about Britain’s alliances. I worried that the protracted divorce negotiations between Britain and its closest economic and political partners would create misunderstandings and eventually anger — and indeed, this is already coming to pass. Continue reading “If May embraces Trump, her ‘global Britain’ is doomed”

Trump’s dark promise to return to a mythical past

A green lawn, a white picket fence, a shining sun. Small children walk home from school; their mother, clad in an apron, waves to greet them. Father comes home in the evening from his well-paid job, the same one he has had all of his life. He greets the neighbors cheerfully — they are all men and women who look and talk like he does — and sits down to watch the 6 o’clock news while his wife makes dinner. The sun sets. Everyone sleeps well, knowing that the next day will bring no surprises. Continue reading “Trump’s dark promise to return to a mythical past”

Stop obsessing over ‘secrets’ about Trump and Russia. What we already know is bad enough.

We now have not one but two “secret” dossiers on the Russian campaign to support Donald Trump. One of them is an unverified and probably unverifiable 35-page collection of rumors and gossip put together by a former British spy. Dumped on the Internet by BuzzFeed, the report is filled with small mistakes and some puzzles (for instance: how could salacious Russian “ kompromat ,” or compromising material, be used to blackmail someone as shameless as Trump?) and mixes the plausible with the implausible without giving real answers. Continue reading “Stop obsessing over ‘secrets’ about Trump and Russia. What we already know is bad enough.”

An existential moment for the Euro-American alliance

“We are following a foreign policy which is the outward expression of the democratic faith we profess. We are doing what we can to encourage free states and free peoples throughout the world, to aid the suffering and afflicted in foreign lands, and to strengthen democratic nations against aggression.”

— Harry S. Truman, State of the Union, 1949

Since President Truman spoke those words nearly 70 years ago, every successive U.S. president has, consciously or otherwise, taken them to heart. The ideas that the United States should “strengthen democratic nations against aggression” and maintain a network of “free states and free peoples” around the world led to the creation of powerful alliances in Asia, as well as a whole host of transatlantic and European institutions that have kept Europe safe, free, prosperous and allied with the United States: the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, the Council of Europe, the European Union. Some of these institutions came with costs for the United States, but because they are the bedrock of American power in the world — because America’s allies promote American values and its interests around the world — no U.S. administration in seven decades has ever sought to undermine them. Continue reading “An existential moment for the Euro-American alliance”

I was a victim of a Russian smear campaign. I understand the power of fake news.

We were told in June that the Democratic National Committee had been hacked by Russians. We were told in October that material subsequently passed on to WikiLeaks came from the same source. Numerous articles were written about these leaks and about Donald Trump’s many Russian connections. And yet no one was really outraged until now. Why? I have a theory: Until you have seen for yourself how 21st-century disinformation works, you laugh at the very idea of it. Once you have understood its power, you stop laughing. Continue reading “I was a victim of a Russian smear campaign. I understand the power of fake news.”

Russia’s next election operation: Germany

In the murky world of intelligence, it isn’t that often that anyone has crystal clear, absolutely certain, 100 percent guaranteed advance knowledge of a forthcoming operation. But in Europe right now, there is one prediction that everyone is happy to make: In 2017, the Russian government will mount an open campaign to sway the German elections. Continue reading “Russia’s next election operation: Germany”

What ‘cheese pizza’ means to the Internet’s conspiracy-mongers

In the past few days, there have been many excellent accounts of the armed man who showed up at Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, and the various con artists and purveyors of fake news who inspired him to believe he would discover a secret group of pedophiles in its nonexistent basement. But one detail, supplied by a 16-year-old of my acquaintance, has been missing from many of the “mainstream” articles: the fact that, in some of the weirder Internet forums this particular teenager frequents, “cheese pizza” — a phrase used in one of John Podesta’s leaked emails — was assumed to be code for “child pornography.” Continue reading “What ‘cheese pizza’ means to the Internet’s conspiracy-mongers”