How Should Europe Deal with the Putin Apologist in the White House?

American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

I’m glad Donald Trump’s shameful behavior in Helsinki, coming on the heels of his ally-bashing in Brussels and the United Kingdom, is finally waking up even conservatives to the fact that we have a Putin apologist in the White House.

When former intelligence chiefs start to call the president a traitor for accepting Vladimir Putin’s denials of waging information warfare on the United States, we should perhaps ask ourselves if Jonathan Chait didn’t have a point when he argued in New York magazine that the Trump-Russia scandal could be worse than we thought?

For us in Europe, the why matters less than the what. Whatever Trump’s motives, we must deal with an American president who is determined to sabotage the Atlantic alliance and establish an accord with Putin.

The question is, how? Read more

Removing American Troops from Germany Would Be a Mistake

A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011
A C-130 Hercules transport aircraft lands at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 7, 2011 (Timm Ziegenthaler)

President Donald Trump, apparently surprised to learn (two years on the job) that the United States have around 35,000 troops in Germany, is considering pulling his soldiers out. He has ordered the Defense Department to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of their presence.

Such a study would no doubt find the benefits outweigh the costs. Those 35,000 troops — down from a Cold War peak of 400,000 — serve American, not German, interests. Read more

America’s Supreme Court Has Become Too Powerful

Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, January 29, 2008
Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, January 29, 2008 (Tabitha Kaylee Hawk)

Ezra Klein makes an excellent point in Vox: the stakes of Supreme Court nominations in America are too high.

Candidates serve for life — which, given modern life spans and youthful nominees, can now mean forty years of decisions — and no one knows when the next seat will open.

No other democracy in the world allows judges to serve for life. And in no other democracy is the process of appointing high-court judges so broken. Read more

Fetishizing Victimhood: From Poland to America

Jarosław Kaczyński, Beata Szydło and Mateusz Morawiecki, the leaders of Poland's Law and Justice party, attend a memorial in Kraków, April 18
Jarosław Kaczyński, Beata Szydło and Mateusz Morawiecki, the leaders of Poland’s Law and Justice party, attend a memorial in Kraków, April 18 (PiS)

Poland’s ruling nationalist party has coined the awkward term “Polocaust” to describe the country’s suffering in World War II. At least one minister wants to dedicate a separate museum to the 1.9 million non-Jewish Poles who lost their lives in the conflict.

This comes after the government criminalized blaming Poles for the Holocaust and referenced its 123 years of partition by Austria, Germany and Russia when called out by the EU for illiberal judicial reforms.

Poland, according to the Law and Justice party, has only ever been a victim — until it came to power and restored Polish pride.

It is no coincidence that Law and Justice is popular in the eastern and more rural half of the country, where people have long felt marginalized by the Western-oriented liberal elite.

Nor is the party’s victim-mongering unique. Read more

Sánchez Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Federalizing Spain

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (PSOE)

There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper. Read more

Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail

The
The “Yankee caudillo” Donald Trump (The Washington Post)

When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”

It has only become worse since then.

Read more

Don’t Believe a Word Trump Says

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump’s latest allegation is that the FBI planted a “spy” in his presidential campaign and therefore the whole investigation into its ties to Russia is illegitimate.

This is hyperbole. Both Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have dismissed the president’s claim as nonsense.

What appears to have happened is that somebody in the campaign talked to the FBI — far from a spy, at best an informant.

This was when the bureau had already started investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, having been warned by foreign intelligence agencies and undoubtedly alarmed by the proliferation of Kremlin-friendly operatives around Trump, from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort to Carter Page. Read more