In Trump’s world, morality is for losers

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  • Anne Applebaum

“Virtue-signaling” is a snide little phrase that people vaguely of the “right” invented to tease people vaguely of the “left.” Like “limousine liberal” or “champagne socialist,” it implies insincerity and self-righteousness. Those who brag about doing something good — say, riding their bicycle to work every day — are said to be “virtue-signaling” their desire to fight climate change. Politicians who join Twitter campaigns in support of worthy causes are said to be “virtue-signaling” their belief in their own superiority. Continue reading “In Trump’s world, morality is for losers”

This is how Putin buys influence in the West

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  • Anne Applebaum

In the old days, these things were done differently. There were KGB couriers, bags of cash, “Moscow gold,” secret subsidies for far-left printing presses: The Soviet Communist Party was seeking to undermine Western democracy, covertly. But it was all pretty small-scale. The U.S.S.R. was not rolling in wealth, and it was never in a position to make its supporters wealthy. Being men of ideology, they weren’t supposed to want money in any case. Continue reading “This is how Putin buys influence in the West”

NATO is once again practicing for the worst

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  • Anne Applebaum
  • Northern Poland

Scruffy, yellowish-brown buildings are bunched around a long courtyard; portable toilets and generators have been set up on the dusty ground beside. Inside, military-grade laptops, the kind that don’t break if you drop them, are arrayed along a series of tables, their cables spooling off onto the floor. Men from different countries, some dressed in camouflage, talk in low voices. A large map of Europe’s Baltic coast has been projected onto one of the walls, with different colored markers scattered across it. Continue reading “NATO is once again practicing for the worst”

Trump’s ambassador to Germany is sabotaging the Atlantic alliance

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

Imagine this scenario: A new Chinese ambassador is sent to Washington. Brash and arrogant, he comes from the extreme Maoist wing of the Chinese communist party. A month after his arrival, he gives an interview to the People’s Daily, noting with satisfaction the rise of the far left in Western politics. Continue reading “Trump’s ambassador to Germany is sabotaging the Atlantic alliance”

Ukraine’s government just faked a journalist’s death. Will it be worth the cost?

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  • Anne Applebaum

KIEV, Ukraine — One of the reasons democracies have responded so ineptly to the flood tide of crass disinformation coming from Russia is that there is no obvious form of counter-strike, no straightforward tit-for-tat response. The Russian president lied about invading Ukraine, for example — the men in uniform crawling all over Crimea were just soldiers on vacation, he said, who might have bought their military equipment in shops. When he awarded medals to those same soldiers a few months later, what would have been an adequate, measured reaction? Blast fake news across the border? Tell lots of crazy Vladimir Putin stories, just to see which ones stick? Continue reading “Ukraine’s government just faked a journalist’s death. Will it be worth the cost?”

Ireland’s abortion referendum reminds us that history is never written in stone

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  • Anne Applebaum

I was in Dublin in May 2015, on the day that Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage. The “yes” vote — in favor of allowing gays to marry — won resoundingly. That night, I walked through a street party which took over the city center. People spilled out of the pubs, sat on the curbs, talked and laughed. I was in town for a literary festival and asked one of the people who’d invited me how she had voted. She’d voted yes, she told me, though not because she was particularly invested in same-sex marriage. Instead, she said, “I wanted to show the Catholic Church that they don’t rule us anymore.” Continue reading “Ireland’s abortion referendum reminds us that history is never written in stone”

Trump’s actions on North Korea have consequences. Here’s a list of them.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

It was mocked when it first appeared a few days ago. But now the White House commemorative coin — the one struck to mark the great peace summit between President Trump and “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong Un — will go down in history. Like the famous “ Inverted Jenny ” — a 1918 stamp with the image of an airplane printed upside down — the coin has already become a collectible. It pompously marks an event that isn’t going to happen, and its price will rise sharply as a result. Continue reading “Trump’s actions on North Korea have consequences. Here’s a list of them.”

Zuckerberg’s visit to Brussels shows European politicians also have no clue about social media

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  • Anne Applebaum

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. But we should still be profoundly disturbed: It has now become clear that our elected representatives, the people whom we send to parliaments and congresses to make laws on our behalf, cannot cope with the profound technological changes that are transforming our political debate. The poor performance of the U.S. Senate, some of whose members were barely capable of posing questions to Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg during a hearing last month, might have been an anomaly. Now the European Parliament has managed to organize an unsatisfying hearing as well. Continue reading “Zuckerberg’s visit to Brussels shows European politicians also have no clue about social media”

Watch what happens in Rome. It could be our post-Trump future.

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

The Northern League started out as a secessionist party, advocating the breakup of Italy and independence for the northern provinces. The Five Star Movement started out as a joke — it was invented by a comedian — and then became a social media operation. Both evolved: The Northern League turned itself into a far-right party, using aggressive language about immigrants, while the Five Star Movement adopted some classic left-wing policies, calling for a universal income and high public spending. Together, they are now set to run the Italian government. Continue reading “Watch what happens in Rome. It could be our post-Trump future.”

Let us hope John McCain’s vision of America long outlasts him

  • By
  • Anne Applebaum

“I have been amusing myself latterly with reading the voluminous letters of Cicero. [T]hey certainly breathe the present effusions of an exalted patriot, while the parricide Caesar is left in odious contrast.” Those words were written by Thomas Jefferson on Dec. 10, 1819, in a letter to John Adams, himself a great Cicero scholar. America’s second president even modeled himself on the great Roman orator and politician: “All the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher,” Adams once wrote. Continue reading “Let us hope John McCain’s vision of America long outlasts him”