Britain has no idea what to do next, and that’s dangerous

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does government. If no one knows what to do, if there is chaos and indecision, then the person with the clearest vision — for good or for ill — wins the argument. That’s the lesson of the Russian Revolution, of Weimar Germany, and, without meaning to overdramatize — we are not talking about events on that scale — that’s also the lesson of Brexit Britain. Continue reading “Britain has no idea what to do next, and that’s dangerous”

A hope that Castro’s death allows Cubans to finally confront their tragic past

Thanksgiving weekend brought my geographically scattered family together for a few days, and we decided to spend one of them at the 9/11 museum in New York. Our group contained several generations and a range of opinions. But as we walked through the exhibits, the most notable divide was between the adults who remembered that strange day in excruciating detail, and the children who did not remember it at all. Continue reading “A hope that Castro’s death allows Cubans to finally confront their tragic past”

Can Michael Flynn overhaul NATO?

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

– Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, April 4, 1949

Throughout the more than 60 years of its existence, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has only once invoked Article 5, the provision that calls for the signatories to defend one another – follow the proper consultations – if attacked. Only once. Continue reading “Can Michael Flynn overhaul NATO?”

Is America still the leader of the free world?

  • LONDON

For the United States and for Europe, the moment of reckoning has now arrived: The West as we know it is nearing the end of its life. The United States of America has just elected as president a man who not only brags about groping women and swindles his business partners but also openly dislikes America’s traditional allies — and Europeans most of all. Continue reading “Is America still the leader of the free world?”

Trump is a threat to the West as we know it, even if he loses

They share ideas and ideology, friends and funders. They cross borders to appear at one another’s rallies. They have deep contacts in Russia — they often use Russian disinformation — as well as friends in other authoritarian states. They despise the West and seek to undermine Western institutions. They think of themselves as a revolutionary avant-garde just like, once upon a time, the Communist International, or Comintern, the Soviet-backed organization that linked communist parties around Europe and the world. Now, of course, they are not Soviet-backed, and they are not communist. But this loose group of parties and politicians — Austria’s Freedom Party, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the UK Independence Party, Hungary’s Fidesz, Poland’s Law and Justice, Donald Trump — have made themselves into a global movement of “anti-globalists.” Meet the “Populist International”: Whoever wins the U.S. election Tuesday, its influence is here to stay. Continue reading “Trump is a threat to the West as we know it, even if he loses”

Has Europe found an antidote to authoritarianism?

I’m not sure if they ever really were, but all politics aren’t local anymore. Ideas now jump borders; political tactics spread through the Internet; so do words and phrases, even in translation. A few years ago, one of the founders of Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right political party, told me he had been inspired by attending a rally organized by the Freedom Party, the far-right political party across the border in Austria. Nowadays, he could watch that same rally on YouTube without leaving his house. Continue reading “Has Europe found an antidote to authoritarianism?”

The nervous breakdown of British politics

  • LONDON

The vulgarity is missing, as is the celebrity glitz. There aren’t any candidates ranting about sex tapes and adultery; there are no hacked emails. But even without the drama that only a U.S. election can provide, the crisis is similar: On both ends of the spectrum, the two major British political parties are suddenly suffering from the same kinds of identity crises as their distant American cousins — and with the same kinds of costs for British democracy. Continue reading “The nervous breakdown of British politics”

The dangerous promise of populism: Free money

The word “populist,” a very old part of the political vocabulary, has lately had a new lease on life. It’s generally used to describe movements of “the people” against “the elite,” whether that takes the form of the French Revolution or a revolt of American farmers. Usually it refers to movements that are said to be “left-wing,” and in recent years, the word has been almost entirely usurped by Latin America, where charismatic populist leaders have galvanized mass movements and pushed through public spending programs ostensibly designed to aid the poor. Continue reading “The dangerous promise of populism: Free money”

In Poland, a preview of what Trump could do to America

It’s important to acknowledge when you’ve been wrong, and I’ve probably never been so wrong as I was in an op-ed published on April 13, 2010. At the time, I was stunned by a terrible tragedy: the crash of a plane that had carried the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski. He had been flying to the Russian city of Smolensk to visit the memorial at Katyn, where Stalin murdered 20,000 Polish officers in 1940. Several dozen senior military figures and politicians were also on the plane, many of them friends of mine and colleagues of my husband, who was then the Polish foreign minister. Among them was his deputy, Andrzej Kremer, a wonderful man and brilliant diplomat. Continue reading “In Poland, a preview of what Trump could do to America”