The Russification of America
This Munich Security Conference was different. A Frenchman defended NATO against the American president. The Russian foreign minister was here but the phantom American secretary of state was not. An ex-Swedish prime minister had to respond to the “last-night-in-Sweden affair” — an ominous incident in a placid Scandinavian state dreamed up in his refugee delirium by Donald Trump.
今年的慕尼黑安全会议(Munich Security Conference)不同寻常。一名法国人为北约辩护，反对美国总统。俄罗斯外交部长出席了会议，而神出鬼没的美国国务卿却没有。一名前瑞典首相不得不回应“昨晚发生在瑞典的事”——在唐纳德·特朗普对难民的幻想中，这个祥和的北欧国家发生了一桩可怕的事件。
Surreal hardly begins to describe the proceedings at this annual gathering, the Davos of foreign policy. This is what happens when the United States is all over the place. Allies get nervous; they don’t know what to believe. “Trump’s uncontrolled communication is unsettling the world,” John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, told me. That is an understatement. The Trump doctrine is chaos.
Vice President Mike Pence came, communicated and exited without taking questions. He said the United States would be “unwavering” in its commitment to NATO, whose glories he extolled. (He never mentioned the European Union, whose fragmentation Trump encourages.)
If a question had been allowed, it might have been: “Mr. Pence, you defend NATO but your boss says it’s obsolete. So which is it?”
To which the answer could well have been: “This is an administration that says everything and the contrary of everything. I advise you to get used to it — and pay up.”
But getting used to an American president who responds through Twitter to the last guy in the room or what he’s just seen on TV, has no notion of or interest in European history, and has turned America’s word into junk, is not easy. Europeans are reeling.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, insisted that, “We certainly cannot say that NATO is obsolete.” (For a long time the French kind of wished it was.) Wolfgang Ischinger, the chairman of the Munich conference, told Deutsche Welle that if Trump continues to advocate against the European Union it would amount to a “nonmilitary declaration of war.” Those are extraordinary words from a distinguished former German ambassador about the American president.
法国外交部长让-马克·埃罗(Jean-Marc Ayrault)坚称，“我们当然不能说北约过时了”（有很长一段时间，法国其实挺希望它过时的）。慕尼黑会议主席沃尔夫冈·伊申格尔(Wolfgang Ischinger)在接受德国之声(Deutsche Welle)采访时表示，如果特朗普继续倡议反对欧盟，最终会升级为“非军事宣战”。一个知名的前德国大使对美国总统有如此评论是非同寻常的。
For me, the most troubling thing was finding myself unsure who was more credible — Pence or Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The Russification of America under Trump has proceeded apace. Vladimir Putin’s macho authoritarianism, disdain for the press, and mockery of the truth has installed itself on the Potomac.
对我来说，最苦恼的是不确定谁更可信——彭斯还是俄罗斯外长谢尔盖·拉夫罗夫(Sergei Lavrov)。特朗普治下的美国已经在快速俄罗斯化。弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)强硬的独裁主义、对媒体的鄙视以及对事实的嘲弄已经渗入美国政府。
Putin is only the latest exponent of what John le Carré called “the classic, timeless, all-Russian, barefaced, whopping lie” and what Joseph Conrad before him called Russian officialdom’s “almost sublime disdain for the truth.”
普京是约翰·勒卡雷(John le Carré)所说的“典型的、永恒的、纯俄罗斯的、厚颜无耻的弥天大谎”，以及勒卡雷之前的约瑟夫·康拉德(Joseph Conrad)所说的俄罗斯官僚体系“对事实的极端藐视”的最新代表。
The Russian system under Putin is a false democracy based on a Potemkin village of props — political parties, media, judiciary — that are the fig leaf covering repression or elimination of opponents. Russia runs on lies. It’s alternative-fact central (you know, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine). But what happens when the United States begins to be infected with Russian disease?
Pence’s speech may not have been precisely a barefaced whopping lie, but it certainly showed barefaced whopping disdain for the intelligence of the audience (you know, nothing has changed with Trump, ha-ha.) By comparison, Lavrov was blunt. He announced the dawn of the “post-West world order.” That became a theme. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, announced the “post-Western global order.”
彭斯的讲话也许不完全是厚颜无耻的弥天大谎，但它无疑展现出对观众智力肆无忌惮的藐视（你知道，特朗普什么也没改变，哈哈）。相比之下，拉夫罗夫更坦率。他宣布“后西方世界秩序”的到来。那成了一个主题。伊朗外交部长穆罕默德·贾瓦德·扎里夫(Mohammad Javad Zarif)也宣扬“后西方全球秩序”。
I wonder what that means — perhaps a world of lies, repression, unreason and violence. It advances as America offers only incoherence. To counter the drift, what is needed? A functioning American State Department would be a start.
Right now, Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, cuts a lonely figure, his reasonable choice of deputy nixed by Trump, his authority (if any) unclear. America today has no foreign policy. It’s veering between empty reaffirmations of old bonds (Pence) and the scattershot anti-Muslim, Sweden-syndrome, anti-trade, bellicose, what’s-in-it-for-me mercantilism of Trump.
Month two of this presidency needs to produce a capacity to speak with one voice. It was interesting to see John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, talk about a coming revised travel ban order for seven mainly Muslim countries and say that “this time” he’d be able to work on the rollout plan. Rough translation: last time he was cut out of the process and it was a real mess. Almost everything has been.
I’m skeptical of Trump ever running a disciplined administration. His feelings about Europe are already clear and won’t change. The European Union needs to step into the moral void by standing unequivocally for the values that must define the West: truth, facts, reason, science, tolerance, freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For now it’s unclear if the Trump administration is friend or foe in that fight.
Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, joked to me that the most terrifying aspect of Trump’s “incident” in Sweden was “the suppression of it by all the major Swedish newspapers, and even Swedish citizens.” We laughed. The unfunny moment will come when Trump lashes out based on nothing but fervid imaginings and the “post-West” order stumbles from confusion into conflagration.