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«I can imagine a lot of places where democracy ceases to exist»

Historian Anne Applebaum talks about the new radicalism of the right, Russian meddling in Western politics and the threat to democracy in Europe.

«We should all be concerned»: Anne Applebaum, photographed in London.
«We should all be concerned»: Anne Applebaum, photographed in London.
Muir Vidler (13 Photo)

From what you can make out so far, is Donald Trump the pragmatist that some people, including President Obama, are hoping to see in him?

It’s too early to say. It’s true that Trump is a businessman, not a politician; he hasn’t had to produce a consistent political philosophy or ideology. So one naturally assumes that he would be pragmatic. But there are some things he’s been very consistent about for many years. He has, for example, been dismissive about Nato. That goes back to 2000 when he wrote a book dismissing Europe and European wars as something that is of no interest to America. It’s also true that his relationship with Russia goes back to the 1990s. He has done business there, he’s had investments from Russia into his company. So what does the word pragmatic mean? He’s somebody who’s been very consistent about certain beliefs and certain ways of behaviour, and I don’t know if they’re necessarily pragmatic.

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