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”

How Russia could spark a U.S. electoral disaster

The headline: “U.S. investigates potential covert Russian plan to disrupt November elections.” To those unused to this kind of story, I can imagine that headline, from The Post this week, seemed strange. A secret Russian plot to throw a U.S. election through a massive hack of the electoral system? It sounds like a thriller, or a movie starring Harrison Ford. Continue reading “How Russia could spark a U.S. electoral disaster”

The secret to Trump: He’s really a Russian oligarch

During the course of a long career, Paul Manafort, the ousted boss of the Donald Trump campaign, has helped oligarchs and crooks of all kinds come to power. He worked for Ferdinand Marcos and Jonas Savimbi; in Ukraine, he helped transform an ex-convict, Viktor Yanukovych, into a corrupt president who fired on demonstrators and eventually fled the country. Given all of that, recent reports that Yanukovych’s party allotted Manafort $12 million in off-the-books cash should hardly have come as a surprise. Continue reading “The secret to Trump: He’s really a Russian oligarch”

Erdogan, Putin and the strongman ties that bind

On a crackly Skype line from Ankara, Turkey, the story I heard was both new and strangely familiar. I was speaking to an academic, a man with a belief in freedom and free markets, and he was telling me about the arrests, detentions and firings of his colleagues. Sahin Alpay, a 72-year-old liberal journalist with wide European contacts. Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a human rights activist and journalist. Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations and theorist of democracy. Lale Kemal, a journalist who writes about the military and security. And there were others. Continue reading “Erdogan, Putin and the strongman ties that bind”

Why we need a President Clinton

Vladimir Putin is not a Bond villain, the Kremlin is not Spectre and, in the real world, we don’t need Daniel Craig to push back against Russia’s hybrid foreign policy. But we do need to elect Hillary Clinton for president. If we don’t, as we learned in recent days, we’ll be led by a man who appears bent on destroying the alliances that preserve international peace and American power, a man who cheerfully approves of hostile foreign intervention in a U.S. election campaign. And please remember: If that’s how he feels about Russia, there’s no guarantee that he’ll feel any different about China or Iran. Continue reading “Why we need a President Clinton”

Connecting the dots: How Russia benefits from the DNC email leak

The emails of Sony employees. Top-secret diplomatic cables. The addresses of married people who used a confidential dating service. Every time “secret” information is made public, the focus of attention is always, immediately, on the sensational details. The motives of the hacker, the leaker or the person in possession of the secret tapes are rarely examined. But what to do when that person has an ulterior motive quite far from “the public’s right to know”? And what if that person’s motive is to help throw an American election? Continue reading “Connecting the dots: How Russia benefits from the DNC email leak”