This New Cold War Is Ideological Too

The skyline of Moscow, Russia, March 27, 2017
The skyline of Moscow, Russia, March 27, 2017 (Julian Buijzen)

Because Russia promotes an agenda that is native to Europe, few seem to realize this Second Cold War is just as ideological as the first.

If anything, the fact that Vladimir Putin’s propaganda machine can tap into a homegrown Western reactionary movement that shares its beliefs makes the ideological challenge he poses more insidious. Read more

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Is Not the French Bernie Sanders

France's Jean-Luc Mélenchon gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, November 25, 2015
France’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, November 25, 2015 (European Parliament)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s late surge in the French presidential election has invited comparison with the unexpected success of Bernie Sanders in last year’s Democratic primary in the United States.

The comparison is not altogether off in the sense that Mélenchon’s rise is largely due to the unpopularity of technocratic socialism under the incumbent president, François Hollande. Sanders’ candidacy similarly reflected a disillusionment in the centrist incrementalism of Hillary Clinton.

But there is no comparing the policies of the French candidate, who is backed by the Communist Party, to those of the senator from Vermont, whose views would be mainstream in France. Read more

Farage Travels to California to Continue Putin’s Work

United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage speaks in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, December 13, 2011
United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage speaks in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, December 13, 2011 (European Parliament/Pietro Naj-Oleari)

After playing a key role in persuading Britons to vote to leave the European Union, Nigel Farage is moving to California to help Russia in another way: by breaking up America’s largest state. Read more

Hamon, Macron Face Putin Apologists in French Debate

French presidential candidates François Fillon and Benoît Hamon shake hands before a debate in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, March 20
French presidential candidates François Fillon and Benoît Hamon shake hands before a debate in Aubervilliers, outside Paris, March 20 (AFP/Eliot Blondet)

Benoît Hamon and Emmanuel Macron don’t have a lot in common. The former wants to raise taxes in France in order to finance a universal basic income. The latter wants to cut taxes and reduce public spending.

Yet the two presidential candidates made common cause on Monday, when they faced three Putin apologists in the first televised debate of the 2017 campaign. Read more

It Seems Everybody Around Trump Was Talking to the Russians

Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, the vice president and attorney general of the United States, appear at an event in Phoenix, Arizona, August 31, 2016
Mike Pence and Jeff Sessions, the vice president and attorney general of the United States, appear at an event in Phoenix, Arizona, August 31, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Was there anyone on Donald Trump’s campaign not talking to the Russians?

The latest news is that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States in September, when he was serving as foreign-policy advisor on the presidential campaign.

We don’t know what the two discussed, but we do know that Sessions lied about the conversation taking place.

During his confirmation hearings, he was explicitly asked by senators if he had been in contact with Russians — any Russians — during the campaign. Sessions said “no”. Read more

Conspiracy Theorists and Putin Apologists: Trump’s National Security Team

General Michael Flynn, then the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, gives a speech in Washington DC, July 24, 2012
General Michael Flynn, then the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, gives a speech in Washington DC, July 24, 2012 (DoD/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Donald Trump is filling his national-security team with people who share his most worrying dispositions: an apologetic attitude toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, an alarmism about Islamic terrorism and a penchant for conspiracy theories.

Perhaps we should never have expected Trump, who lacks any foreign-policy experience yet seems to believe he is always the smartest guy in the room, to surround himself with more level-headed Republicans.

But the people he is choosing are the opposite of level-headed, which does not bode well for the next four years of American foreign policy. Read more

Trump’s Credibility Problem on Russia

Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump makes a speech in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

I’ve been meaning to write about this since The Washington Post reported on Friday that the CIA is now confident Russia hacked the Democratic Party’s emails in July and November to help Donald Trump win the election — but NBC News sums it up perfectly today: Read more