The World Putin Made

The World Putin Made

Illustration by Celina Pereira; BStU; Ulrich Hässler / Ullstein Bild / GettyIt was December 1989, the Berlin Wall had fallen, and in Dresden, crowds were gathering outside the headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, shouting insults and demanding access. Nearby, frantic KGB officers—the Soviet advisers whom the Stasi had long referred to …

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Trump Is Putting On a Show in Portland

Trump Is Putting On a Show in Portland

The very idea seems, on the face of it, sheer madness. In Portland, Oregon, federal security officers dressed for combat—wearing jungle-camouflage uniforms with unclear markings, carrying heavy weapons, using batons and tear gas—are patrolling the streets, making random arrests, throwing people into unmarked vans. The officers do not come from institutions that specialize in political …

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Laura Ingraham’s Descent Into Despair

Laura Ingraham’s Descent Into Despair

“It was cocktail hour on the opening day of the new, Republican-dominated Congress, and the long, chandelier-lighted parlor of David Brock’s town house in Georgetown was filling up with exuberant young conservatives fresh from events on the Hill.” That was the opening sentence, in 1995, of a New York Times Magazine cover story called “The …

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Poland’s Rulers Made Up a ‘Rainbow Plague’

Poland’s Rulers Made Up a ‘Rainbow Plague’

Rare is the election campaign that truly hinges on a single issue. But in the run-up to Sunday’s presidential election in Poland, “LGBT”—an English acronym that sounds strange and foreign in Polish—was unquestionably the dominant theme. The coronavirus pandemic is still ravaging the world, an economic crisis looms, and international politics are in turmoil. Yet …

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Trump Is Turning America Into the ‘Shithole Country’ He Fears

Trump Is Turning America into the ‘Shithole Country’ He Fears

There is a lot of learned material written about nationalism—scholarly books and papers, histories of it, theories of it—but most of us understand that nationalism, at its heart, at its very deepest roots, is about a feeling of superiority: We are better than you. Our country is better than your country. Or even—and apologies, but …

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The Voice of America Will Sound Like Trump

The Voice of America Will Sound Like Trump

Of all the myriad Washington bureaucrats, diplomats, congressional staffers, and politicians who spend their time thinking about U.S.-China policy, probably no one has actually triggered the Chinese more than Libby Liu. For 14 years, Liu was the president of Radio Free Asia, an independent but congressionally funded broadcaster that transmits news and information in Mandarin, …

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Resist the Urge to Simplify the Story

Resist the Urge to Simplify the Story

Like most Americans, I am nowhere near any violence right now. Nevertheless, I am hearing and seeing violence on a series of screens: television screens, smartphone screens, computer screens. Even in a room as quiet as mine—outside the window I can see grass and trees—the cacophony is almost unbearable. It’s as if different choruses are …

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History Will Judge the Complicit

History Will Judge the Complicit

On a cold March afternoon in 1949, Wolfgang Leonhard slipped out of the East German Communist Party Secretariat, hurried home, packed what few warm clothes he could fit into a small briefcase, and then walked to a telephone box to call his mother. “My article will be finished this evening,” he told her. That was …

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A Study in Leadership

A Study in Leadership

One knows, of course, that Donald Trump behaves differently from the leaders of other countries, especially the leaders of other Western democracies. One knows that he disdains facts; that he does not read briefing papers; that he has no organizational talents; that he does not know how to make use of militaries, bureaucracies, or diplomatic …

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NICK LEVENESQUE Picture

This Time, Americans Are Doing Nothing

It looks, at first, like one of a zillion unfunny video clips that now circulate on the internet: “Once Upon a Virus” features cheap animation, cheesy music, and sarcastic dialogue between China—represented by a Lego terra-cotta warrior with a low, masculine voice—and the United States, represented by a Lego Statue of Liberty with a high, …

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