Anne Applebaum

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum in 2013

Anne Elizabeth Applebaum (born July 25, 1964) is an American-born and naturalized-Polish journalist and historian. She has written extensively about the history of Communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author.


Before 2010[edit]

Gulag: A History (2003)[edit]

  • The Western Right, on the other hand, did struggle to condemn Soviet crimes, but sometimes using methods that harmed their own cause. Surely the man who did the greatest damage to anti-communism was the American Senator Joe McCarthy. Recent documents showing that some of his accusations were correct do not change the impact of his overzealous pursuit of communists in American public life: ultimately, his public "trials" of communist sympathizers would tarnish the cause of anti-communism with the brush of chauvinism and intolerance. In the end, his actions served the cause of neutral historical inquiry no better than those of his opponents.


  • [O]ne Western policy stands out as a phenomenal success, particularly when measured against the low expectations with which it began: the integration of Central Europe and the Baltic States into the European Union and NATO. Thanks to this double project, more than 90 million people have enjoyed relative safety and relative prosperity for more than two decades in a region whose historic instability helped launch two world wars.
  • For the record: No treaties prohibiting NATO expansion were ever signed with Russia. No promises were broken. Nor did the impetus for NATO expansion come from a “triumphalist” Washington. On the contrary, Poland’s first efforts to apply in 1992 were rebuffed...But Poland and others persisted, precisely because they were already seeing signs of the Russian revanchism to come.
  • When the slow, cautious expansion eventually took place, constant efforts were made to reassure Russia. No NATO bases were placed in the new member states, and until 2013 no exercises were conducted there. A Russia-NATO agreement in 1997 promised no movement of nuclear installations. A NATO-Russia Council was set up in 2002. In response to Russian objections, Ukraine and Georgia were, in fact, denied NATO membership plans in 2008.
  • The [2014] crisis in Ukraine, and the prospect of a further crisis in NATO itself, is not the result of our triumphalism but of our failure to react to Russia’s aggressive rhetoric and its military spending. Why didn’t we move NATO bases eastward a decade ago? Our failure to do so has now led to a terrifying plunge of confidence in Central Europe...Our mistake was not to humiliate Russia but to underrate Russia’s revanchist, revisionist, disruptive potential.
  • If the only real Western achievement of the past quarter-century is now under threat, that’s because we have failed to ensure that NATO continues to do in Europe what it was always meant to do: deter. Deterrence is not an aggressive policy; it is a defensive policy. But in order to work, deterrence has to be real.
  • In the quarter-century since the fall of Communism, we’ve forgotten what a cynical, unprincipled, authoritarian Russian regime looks like, especially one with an audacious global strategy and no qualms whatsoever about sacrificing human life.
  • Almost all of the men who currently rule Russia (and they are all men) were taught and trained by the KGB. Their teaching and training shows. Why would it not?
  • [T]he living memory of the USSR is now truly fading and the nature of the USSR—its peculiar awfulness, its criminality, its stupidity—is becoming harder and harder to explain.
  • Fake research institutions, “peace movements,” fictitious political groupings, useful idiots, and agents of influence, both paid and unpaid…We’ve been here before, too. True, the ideology has changed. These days Russia supports whoever is willing to promote its interests, whether far-left or far-right, and whoever can help undermine the established European order.

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956 (2012)[edit]

  • Before a nation can be rebuilt, its citizens need to understand how it was destroyed in the first place: how its institutions were undermined, how its language was twisted, how its people were manipulated.


  • [Guests at a party held by Applebaum and her husband Radosław Sikorski on December 31, 1999 in their Polish home] You could have lumped the majority of them, roughly, in the general category of what Poles call the right—the conservatives, the anti-Communists. But at that moment in history, you might also have called most of my guests liberals—free-market liberals, or classical liberals—or maybe Thatcherites. Even those who might have been less definite about economics certainly believed in democracy, in the rule of law, and in a Poland that was a member of nato and on its way to joining the European Union—an integrated part of modern Europe. In the 1990s, that was what being "on the right" meant.
  • That moment has passed. Nearly two decades later, I would now cross the street to avoid some of the people who were at my New Year's Eve party. They, in turn, would not only refuse to enter my house, they would be embarrassed to admit they had ever been there. In fact, about half the people who were at that party would no longer speak to the other half. The estrangements are political, not personal. Poland is now one of the most polarized societies in Europe, and we have found ourselves on opposite sides of a profound divide,
  • Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.
  • The American intellectuals who now find themselves alienated from the country that they inhabit aren't interested in reality. They are interested in a fantasy nation, different and distinct from their own hateful country. America, with its complicated social and political as well as ethnic diversity, with its Constitution that ensures we will never, ever all be forced to feel as if "all life is focused in a central purpose"—this America no longer appeals to them at all.
    Most of them know that this fantasy foreign nation they admire seeks to put an end to all of that. It seeks to undermine American democracy, beat back American influence, and curtail American power. But to those who dislike American democracy, despair of American influence, and are angered by American power? That, truly, is the point.
    • "The False Romance of Russia", The Atlantic (December 12, 2019).
    • Applebaum begins her article by citing Sherwood Eddy, a Christian Socialist who admired the Soviet Union and includes his phrase "all life is focused in a central purpose". The "American intellectuals who now find themselves alienated from the country that they inhabit" include individuals such as Patrick Buchanan ("the godfather of the modern so-called alt-right") and Tucker Carlson (who is "using Russia as a club with which to beat his own society and his own traditions").
  • More important, he [Trump] has governed in defiance—and in ignorance—of the American Constitution, notably declaring, well into his third year in office, that he had "total” authority over the states. His administration is not merely corrupt, it is also hostile to checks, balances, and the rule of law. He has built a proto-authoritarian personality cult, firing or sidelining officials who have contradicted him with facts and evidence—with tragic consequences for public health and the economy. ... Trump has attacked America’s military, calling his generals "a bunch of dopes and babies," and America's intelligence services and law-enforcement officers, whom he has denigrated as the "deep state" and whose advice he has ignored.
  • One former administration official who has seen Trump interact with [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] as well as with Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that it was like watching a lesser celebrity encounter a more famous one. Trump did not speak to them as the representative of the American people; he simply wanted their aura—of absolute power, of cruelty, of fame—to rub off on him and enhance his own image.
  • Trump's fawning attitude towards dictators is his ideology at its purest: He meets his own psychological needs first; he thinks about the country last. The true nature of the ideology that Trump brought to Washington was not “America First,” but rather “Trump First.”

Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine (2017)[edit]

Knopf Dounleday, 2017
  • Stalin’s policies that autumn led inexorably to famine all across the grain-growing regions of the USSR. But in November and December 1932 he twisted the knife further in Ukraine, deliberately creating a deeper crisis. Step by step, using bureaucratic language and dull legal terminology, the Soviet leadership, aided by their cowed Ukrainian counterparts, launched a famine within the famine, a disaster specifically targeted at Ukraine and Ukrainians.


  • Democratic politicians spend a lot of time thinking about how to engage people and persuade them to vote. But a certain kind of autocrat, of whom Putin is the outstanding example, seeks to convince people of the opposite: not to participate, not to care, and not to follow politics at all. The propaganda used in Putin's Russia has been designed in part for this purpose. The constant provision of absurd, conflicting explanations and ridiculous lies—the famous "firehose of falsehoods"— encourages many people to believe that there is no truth at all. The result is widespread cynicism. If you don't know what's true, after all, then there isn't anything you can do about it. Protest is pointless. Engagement is useless.
  • So, yes, this is another mysterious death, but it is a new kind of mysterious death. With this plane crash, the violence on the periphery of Russia’s empire has now migrated to its very heart. Putin's rule has always been maintained by a heady combination of opportunism, bribery, and the facade of Russian nationalism, propped up by the subtle threat of violence. In the aftermath of Prigozhin's rebellion, Putin needs something more spectacular: theatrical, public violence; violence of the kind that brings down a plane soon after takeoff in the middle of a sunny day; violence designed to terrify anyone who secretly wished for Prigozhin’s victory.

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: