Serge Schmemann

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The Victory museum in Moscow. Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

There is a pattern to Russia’s history, and it may be catching up with Vladimir Putin.

Under the czars and then the commissars, Russia’s rulers wrenched enormous sacrifice from their people to achieve the power, empire and respect they believed to be Russia’s due, whether by virtue of its vast expanse, natural wealth, culture, ideology or simply its power, only to find at some point that along the way they had lost their exhausted, battered nation.

Yegor Gaidar, the wunderkind who shaped the first post-Communist reforms in Russia, mulled on this cyclical pattern in an article in the newspaper Izvestia in 1994, wondering — as did many in Russia and in the West at the time — whether the pattern would repeat itself after the collapse of the Soviet Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

La reina Isabel elevó a la monarquía

Para poder funcionar en una democracia por lo demás normal, la monarquía hereditaria necesita que la ciudadanía acepte un poco de ficción: en concreto, que una familia elevada por encima de la política pueda representar a la nación y sus valores.

Eso lleva su trabajo, sobre todo para la casa real más escudriñada de todas, la de los Windsor, que reina en el Reino Unido y en otros 14 reinos de la Commonwealth. Pocas familias han tenido tantos escándalos públicos y han sido tan sometidas a la lupa de los tabloides. La caída en desgracia del príncipe Andrés, debida a las acusaciones de violación y abuso sexual, y las desavenencias entre la realeza británica y el príncipe Enrique y su esposa, la estadounidense Meghan Markle, son solo los últimos golpes que han tenido que sobrellevar los Windsor.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers in Moscow detaining a man holding a placard reading “No to war,” during a protest on March 13 against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It is hard to feel sorry for Russia today, when its army is savaging Ukraine. But for those of us who were in Moscow on that August morning in 1991 when a warm sun rose over people massed outside the “White House”, the embattled seat of the Russian government, and we realized that the tanks were not coming, that the coup had failed, that the Soviet yoke had been lifted, it’s also hard to escape a deep sense of grief that Russia has come full circle.

Russia’s potential is being set back by decades; the young, educated and creative are leaving; and the hard men are ascendant.…  Seguir leyendo »

Queen Elizabeth on her 21st birthday. Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“Su majestad es una chica bastante agradable / Pero no tiene mucho que decir”, cantaba el Beatle Paul McCartney en una cancioncilla juguetona incluida en el álbum Abbey Road de 1969. La letra me viene a la mente cada vez que la reina Isabel vuelve a ser noticia, lo cual ha ocurrido a menudo en los últimos años, con la serie de Netflix The Crown; la muerte de su marido, el príncipe Felipe, y las desventuras que acaparan titulares de su progenie real.

Sin embargo, las últimas noticias —que la reina ingresó a un hospital “para realizarle algunas investigaciones preliminares”— suscitaron un nivel distinto de emoción y ansiedad, que no disminuyó del todo con el mensaje tranquilizador de que “sigue de buen humor”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Queen Elizabeth on her 21st birthday. Credit Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl / But she doesn’t have a lot to say,” sang the Beatle Paul McCartney in a playful ditty tucked into the 1969 album “Abbey Road.” The lyrics come to mind whenever Queen Elizabeth is back in the news, which has been happening often in recent years, what with the Netflix series “The Crown,” the death of her husband, Prince Philip, and the headline-hugging misadventures of her royal progeny.

The latest news, however — that the queen had entered a hospital “for some preliminary investigations” — raised a different level of emotion and anxiety, not fully relieved by the reassuring addendum that she “remains in good spirits.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Angela Merkel Was Underestimated, and It Became Her Superpower

Almost every article written about Angela Merkel’s tenure as Germany’s chancellor notes that one of her greatest political strengths has been that she is so often underestimated. In this, she is not unique: Helmut Kohl, who launched Ms. Merkel into politics and spent even more time in the chancellor’s office, once declared, “I make my living by being underestimated”.

There are many differences between Ms. Merkel and Mr. Kohl — she came from a Protestant family in Communist East Germany, he from the Catholic Rhineland; she was a serious scientist before entering politics, he a politician almost from the get-go. But it is a reflection on modern German politics, and on Germany’s place in the world, that through more than 30 tumultuous years — years in which Germany and the world were radically reordered — the country was led by two conservative leaders who made a virtue of being decidedly uncharismatic in style, demeanor and speech.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Roots of French Pique

It’s hardly surprising that France would be furious over losing a multibillion-dollar arms deal with Australia, all the more so because it believes it was blindsided as Canberra, Washington and London secretly worked to get a different deal for themselves.

But recalling ambassadors, as France did from Washington and Canberra, a step just short of breaking relations, is not normal behavior among allies, no matter how miffed they may be. The lost sale of a dozen submarines is painful, but not fatal to the French arms industry, especially as the hulls and engines were to be built in Australia and the electronics and armaments were to come from Lockheed Martin, an American company.…  Seguir leyendo »

I Wrote the Lead Times Article on 9/11. Here’s What Still Grips Me

Shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, an English teacher in central Washington State assigned her eighth and ninth graders to write poems based on the lead article in The Times. The teacher, Tammy Grubb, said her intention was to give the students a way to process their feelings. The poems were posted in the school hallway and then, since my byline was on the article, Ms. Grubb sent them to me, 77 of them.

With the 20th anniversary of the attacks approaching, I dug up the thick folder with the poems. The format was “found poetry,” which basically means rearranging phrases from another text, and the words were painfully familiar: the “hellish storm of ash,” the planes “gorged with fuel,” the victims leaping from the inferno, the talk of war, the bravado of the moment, with President George W.…  Seguir leyendo »

Canada Should Open the Border

Hockey fans rejoiced last Sunday when Canadian health officials agreed to let National Hockey League teams cross the U.S.-Canada border for the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was not a big surprise; the Montreal Canadiens are looking good, and they stand to bring the Cup north for the first time since they won it last in 1993.

I, on the other hand, still cannot cross into Canada, at least through June 21. My case may not be quite as compelling as the N.H.L.’s, but a neighbor up on the Laurentian lake where we have a cottage called last week to say a tree had snapped and a branch threatened to crush a shed where I’ve stored many important things.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Freeing of the Ever Given

In the end, a full moon succeeded where puny machines could not, wrenching the mammoth barge out of the Egyptian mud in which it became wedged six days earlier. A spring tide finally set the Ever Given and its enormous stack of 18,300 shipping containers afloat again, drawing cheers from Egyptians on the shore and a virtual world beyond.

Before long, some 350 freighters blocked from traversing the Suez Canal hoisted anchor and began moving through; insurers mournfully took out their abacuses, and people near and far went back to their far drearier crises of pandemic, ailing businesses, wars, racism, autocracy and refugees.…  Seguir leyendo »

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, taught Newton, and if what is true for physics is also true for life, then 2019 may be the year that the onslaught of populist demagogues runs up against a reaction of cooperation, tolerance, honesty and simple human decency.

In the end, decency is at the core of good governance and an equitable society, and 2018 has seen evidence of a swelling reaction against the cynicism, lies and hypocrisy of leaders who have systematically fanned fears, prejudice and hatreds to amass power.

The revulsion at dividing refugee families; the #MeToo movement’s reckoning over sexual misconduct; the mounting pressure on tech giants to safeguard personal data and cleanse their social networks of propaganda, hatred and fake news; the midterm elections in the United States; these and other events and trends raised a glimmer of hope that the decent majority — and it is the majority — is trying to pull the world back from the slough of despond into which it seemed to be sinking.…  Seguir leyendo »

The anniversaries of 9/11 mount, yet every year on that date we recall with extraordinary clarity where we were on that terrible day, what we felt, how we gradually absorbed the enormity of the horror that had been visited upon us.

I was in the New York Times newsroom in Times Square that day, and among many other things, I remember how we scrambled to glean some information about Al Qaeda and its zealous leader, Osama bin Laden. Islamic extremism was not new, but it was still a dim and obscure force. The acrid smoke and dust billowing over ground zero spoke to the enormous potential for destruction in that hatred, yet when President George W.…  Seguir leyendo »

The week brought more snow to the Mid-Atlantic region, along with a blast of the Cold War, replete with an exchange of sanctions by Washington and the Kremlin, followed by displays of bravado by the sanctioned. “Big honor for me,” declared Vladislav Surkov, a top Kremlin strategist. “Badge of honor,” came the echo from Senator Mary L. Landrieu, head of the Senate energy committee.

Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, elevated his inclusion on President Vladimir V. Putin’s list of those banned from travel to Russia to the noble wound of a Cold Warrior: “If standing up for the Ukrainian people, their freedom, their hard-earned democracy and sovereignty means I’m sanctioned by Putin, so be it.”…  Seguir leyendo »

From the Editor
Serge Schmemann. Editorial Page Editor — International Herald Tribune.

Changing Places
Roger Cohen, a British-born journalist and author. He is a columnist for The New York Times and International Herald Tribune.

The Great Thaw
Gabrielle Walker, a freelance writer, broadcaster and speaker specialising in energy and climate change.

Going Green
John Elkington, a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans.

James Meek, a writer and reporter.

The Gypsi in Me
Cristiana Grigore,a Romanian Fulbright scholar of Roma ethnicity studying at Vanderbilt University.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reading the memoirs of Sari Nusseibeh (Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life) and Amos Oz (A Tale of Love and Darkness), it is sometimes hard to keep in mind that they are writing about the very same land, that they live less than 25 miles apart.

Sari Nusseibeh is a Palestinian politician and academic, and the life he describes is one of struggle for a land in which his illustrious family has played a central role since the 7th century. Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, and his story is set against the miraculous return of the Jews — including his East European Zionist parents — to their ancient homeland after centuries in Diaspora.…  Seguir leyendo »