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Racist, Fascist, The Usual

US media freakout over Viktor Orban speech says more about them than about the Hungarian leader
Racist, Fascist, The Usual

That image is a frame from a Dutch TV documentary about migrant presence in the Italian port city of Genoa. The speaker is an elderly Italian shopkeeper who laments what has happened to his city. The old part of the city, where he works, is now overrun with African migrants who sell drugs, he says. And this means the death of his country.

This is why Viktor Orban keeps being re-elected in Hungary. He has seen what the EU's migration policies have done to Italy and other European countries, and wants no part of it.

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I know, I know. I know! You're tired of reading about Viktor Orban here. But you know, in the wake of Orban's Dallas appearance, there has been a lot of writing about him in the US, most of it tendentious and unreliable. As one of the few American pundits who has actually spent significant time in Hungary, I feel compelled to challenge this false narrative before it gets further entrenched. If you're bored with it all, feel free to skip all this, and to go with God. But I hope you will read on, if only to understand how the Narrative gets made.

The word seems to have gone out in Left circles to smear anybody who criticizes George Soros as an anti-Semite. Now they're going after Sen. Marco Rubio, of all people, for his criticism of "Soros-backed prosecutors." If you don't get the reference, George Soros spends a lot of money to get progressive DAs elected nationwide -- DAs who are soft on crime out of ideological principle. An example from the politically powerful head of an American teachers' union:

There's been lots of this on Twitter from the Left in the past few days. It's a lazy smear. Soros is a very wealthy man who has strong progressive political views, and throws a lot of money around to advance his causes. Hey, it's a free country! But one is also free to criticize him, even though he is ethnically Jewish. I did not notice people on the Left ceasing to criticize the late conservative skrillionaire Sheldon Adelson for spending his fortune to elect Republicans, even though Adelson was a Jew. In fact:

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Hey, if you are a liberal or a progressive, it is perfectly understandable, and perfectly defensible, for you to have criticized Adelson back in the day. His Jewishness is not a shield against criticism for his political acts (though certainly if someone had used anti-Semitic language to do so, that would be out of bounds and worthy of condemnation). Neither is Soros's Judaism a get-out-of-criticism-free card for his progressive activism. American Jews should know that Soros's 2015 plan to bring a million or more Middle Eastern migrants into Europe to resettle them would have made Europe objectively less safe for European Jews, who face daily anti-Semitic attacks from Muslim migrants in European cities with significant Muslim migrant communities. As I keep saying, one of the safest places to be Jewish -- openly Jewish -- is Orban's Budapest. You don't have to like Viktor Orban's government one bit, but Hungarian migration policies make the country objectively safer for Jews than European countries that have sizable Islamic migrant communities. An inconvenient truth for liberals, but the truth all the same.

Orban has had to deal with this smear for years. Soros is immensely powerful, by virtue of his billions, and he has spent generously to try to change his native Hungary into a progressive, globalist country. Orban is his chief rival, and the one who prevents Soros from doing that. Naturally the pro-Soros people through everything they have at Orban, including false claims of anti-Semitism. Here is erstwhile neocon Max Boot doing it in the Washington Post a day or two ago:

But Orban hasn’t recanted his repugnant views, and right-wingers in Dallas thrilled to his denunciations of immigration, abortion, LGBTQ rights and “the Woke Globalist Goliath.” He even excoriated Jewish financier George Soros, a Hungarian native, as someone who “hated Christianity.” The racist and anti-Semitic signaling was not subtle.

For the record, Soros has said publicly that he is not a religious believer. Soros pursues some policies that are entirely antithetical to Christianity (e.g., he funds a campaign to legalize prostitution, and to normalize LGBT). I don't have any reason to believe that Soros consciously hates Christianity, but the effects of his progressive beliefs is to make life a lot harder for believing Christians. That said, here is a transcript of Orban's CPAC Texas speech. The only part that has Orban accusing Soros of hating Christianity was this one:

Let’s be honest: the most evil things in modern history were carried out by people who hated Christianity. Don’t be afraid to call your enemies by their name. You can play it safe, but they will never show mercy. Consider for example George Soros, as you call him here. In Hungary, we call him: Gyuri bácsi, which means Uncle Georgie. The wealthiest and one of the most talented Hungarians on Earth! Just a hint: Be careful with talented Hungarians! I know George Soros very well. He is my opponent. He believes in none of the things that we do. And he has an army at his service: money, NGOs, universities, research institutions and half the bureaucracy in Brussels. He uses this army to force his will on his opponents, like us Hungarians. He thinks that values dear to all of us led to the horrors of the twentieth century. But the case is exactly the opposite. Our values save us from repeating history’s mistakes. The horrors of Nazism and Communism happened because some Western States in continental Europe abandoned their Christian values. And today’s progressives are planning to do the same. They want to give up on western values, and create a New World, a Post Western World. Who is going to stop them if we don’t?

The claim is straightforward: Western civilization was built by Judeo-Christian values (Orban uses "Judeo-Christian" and "Christian" interchangeably). Abandoning Christian/Judeo-Christian faith and values -- Nazism and Communism were anti-Jewish and anti-Christian to the core, even though many Christians in Germany embraced Nazism, and Jews were hugely overrepresented in the leadership of Communist movements -- brought about total catastrophe. Orban believes that the only way Europe can be Europe is to hold fast to the religious values upon which its civilization is based. George Soros believes things that are antithetical to the Christian religion, and spends his fortune to hasten the advance of the now-established post-Christian order. In what sense is Viktor Orban wrong about the atheist left-winger George Soros wanting to move Europe away from Christian values? In what sense is Orban wrong about Soros passionately hating those values?

When it comes to Orban, you must always, always read the entire context of his remarks. There's a funny thing about American journalists and commentators: when it comes to Viktor Orban, many don't appear to have the slightest interest in fairness or accuracy. For example, here's the Associated Press report on the Texas speech:

His invitation to CPAC reflects conservatives' growing embrace of the Hungarian leader whose country has a single-party government.

A casual reader would assume that this means Hungary is like a communist country, in that only one party is allowed. This is a lie. It is true that Hungary is governed by the Fidesz party of Viktor Orban, which holds all the government ministries -- because it is a parliamentary democracy! In the UK, the Conservative Party is the party of government, because that's how it works in a parliamentary democracy. Whenever Fidesz loses the next election, Hungary will have a government of the opposition party, or coalition. And by the way, a Hungarian friend pointed out that technically, the Hungarian government is a coalition of Fidesz with a separate but allied party. None of this stuff matters to many American journalists. They believe what they believe.

Unfortunately even James Kirchick, one of the best journalists and commentators we have, fell into it in his report from CPAC (I had drinks one night with Jamie, whose work I have admired for years; he's a genuinely nice guy, but a Fidesz hater to the marrow). I'll come back to Jamie's piece later in this post, but here I want to point out a typical line of attack against Orban:

There been tons of hand-wringing over Orban’s incendiary, repugnant remarks about Hungarians not procreating with non-white people.

That is not what Orban said at all in Transylvania! Again: read the transcript of that speech. I completely agree with Kirchick that it was very wrong of Orban to cite the 1973 anti-migrant novel The Camp of the Saints, whose narrow insight about the self-hating nature of European elites opening the door to mass Third World migration does not justify the open racism of the thing. But again, it is a tendentious reading of Orban's comments to think he was referring to race in the biological sense, which is the only way we understand it in the US. He is referring to civilizations, which is why he said that in Europe, people of different ethnicities mix and intermarry all the time, as happened in Hungary historically -- but they are all part of the same "race" (= nation, civilization). In fact, in a subsequent interview with Patrick Deneen and Gladden Pappin, Orban admitted that he screwed up with his Transylvania remarks, and said that he believes that the United States would maintain its Western civilization because of migration from Latin America, which he considers to be a good thing.

Kirchick took a couple of sentences to wave away explanations of Orban's remarks:

Orban and his defenders would later protest that, by “race,” he was referring to culture, and that, per the usual, any misunderstanding was the fault of the globalist, progressive elites who routinely defame him and the Hungarian people. 

I'm sorry, but this is absurd. It really is true that there is a serious explanation for what Orban said; I and others have been offering it. In fact, in a subsequent interview with Patrick Deneen and Gladden Pappin, Orban admitted that he screwed up with his Transylvania remarks, with Orban adding that he believes that the United States would maintain its Western civilization because of migration from Latin America, which he considers to be a good thing.

There no doubt were a lot of people in that CPAC hall who would have disagreed with Orban on this point, had they known that's what he believes. But people who say that Orban is racist in the standard American sense of not wanting whites to procreate with people of color have to explain why he believes Latino migration is going to keep America in the Christian West -- and why that's a good thing. To be fair to Jamie Kirchick, he probably did not know of Orban's comments about Latino immigration, but he didn't have to do so to grasp that Orban was talking about culture, not biological race. All he had to do was read Orban's remarks in context.

Notice these remarks from Pope Francis in his press conference recently following his trip to Canada. From the transcript:

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press: Good evening Pope Francis, My name is Brittany Hobson. I am a reporter with The Canadian press. You have often spoken on the need to speak clearly, honestly, forthrightly, and with parrhesia. You know that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission described the residential-school system as “cultural genocide.” This has since been amended to just “genocide.” Those who were listening to your apologies the past week did express disappointment that the word “genocide” was not used. Would you use those words and accept that members of the Church participated in genocide?

Pope Francis: It‘s true; I didn’t use the word because it didn‘t occur to me, but I described the genocide and asked for pardon, forgiveness for this work that is genocidal. For example, I condemned this, too: taking away children and changing culture, changing mentalities, changing traditions, changing a race, [emphasis mine -- RD] let’s say, a whole culture. Yes, it‘s a technical word, “genocide,” but I didn’t use it because it didn't come to mind, but I described it. It is true; yes, it’s genocide. Yes, you all, be calm. You can say that I said that, yes, that it was genocide. [In English] Yes. Yes. Thank you.

It would be absurd to talk about "changing a race" in the biological sense. The pope used the word in the same sense that Orban meant it: erasing people's concept of themselves as a particular people.

Anyway, here is Zack Beauchamp in Vox wailing that Orban is turning Republican Washington into "Budapest-on-the-Potomac." Here is Ana Marie Cox in The New Republic grieving that Orban's speech was one long "dogwhistle" (the standard word progressives use to dismiss right-wing claims that they dislike; it's like calling criticism of Soros "anti-Semitic" -- you don't have to address the substance of what's being said, only claim that you somehow know what the Right speaker is really saying, nudge-nudge). There's lots of stuff like this all over the US media today.

You would think that the American media would have wised up by now to the role they played in electing Donald Trump, but no, they're giving Orban the same treatment. They misquote him, distort what he really says, refuse to engage his substantive claims and arguments (because it's easier to comfort yourself by saying that it's all a big racist, anti-semitic, homophobic dog whistle), slander him -- and then wonder why people respond favorably to what the guy stands for. In his opening remarks at CPAC Texas, Orban said:

I can already see tomorrow’s headlines: “Far-right European racist and anti-Semite strongman, the Trojan horse of Putin, holds speech at conservative conference.” But I don’t want to give them any ideas. They know best how to write Fake News. 

And lo, it all happened just as Orban predicted. Orban also said:

They hate me and slander me and my country as they hate you and slander you and the America you stand for. We all know how this works.

Precisely! Just read the coverage of Orban's Texas speech from the Left and neocon Right. These people are doing Orban's work for him, showing the US conservatives that the treatment from liberals and the liberal media that they have grown accustomed to over the years, especially during the Trump years, is the same treatment he has received from the liberal media. We all know how this works. We sure do. The more they lament the influence of Viktor Orban on American conservative politics, and do so with lies and slanders all too familiar to the American right, especially in the Trump era, the more attractive they make Orban to American conservatives.

Matt Taibbi is no conservative, but he understands how the liberal media pack worked to elect Donald Trump, and says they are doing it again -- this time, by positing Ron DeSantis as an acceptable Stop Trump alternative. Taibbi writes:

If pundits really wanted a Trump-free race, they would describe DeSantis as a fascist menace, a “Real Hitler, This Time” who itches to slit democracy’s throat and ravage its corpse. There would be campaigns to pressure Visa and Mastercard into refusing payments for Dreams of Our Founding Fathersalong with boycotts of Florida oranges, Dolphins highlights, Carl Hiassen novels, and anything else “Florida” that activists could think of.

DeSantis, who’s no dummy, sees how fraught this moment is, which is why he told the cast of The View to go fuck itself when they invited him on. Why, the DeSantis people asked, would the governor agree to sit with people who’d bashed him as a “homicidal sociopath,” a “fascist and a bigot,” and “anti-black,” unless they wanted to hype him as a less horrible buffer against Trump, who would never in a million years get the same invite? (That fact alone makes DeSantis look like a fake to Republicans). By trying to confer pseudo-credibility on DeSantis, these outlets are destroying the Floridian’s credibility as an outsider, leaving Trump the only choice for the burn-it-down vote.

More Taibbi:

The most damning evidence of impotence that year was that Trump gained with black and Hispanic voters in 2020 after four years of relentless messaging about Trumpism as literal white supremacy. Even tiny shifts of this type in Trump’s direction would have been impossible if traditional media had anything like net positive legitimacy.

Trump and Sanders both surged in 2016 when they described a country divided into a small corrupt establishment and everyone else, and declared themselves on the side of everyone else. The journalistic priesthood that’s spent the last 6-7 years denouncing these people and their voters has done the opposite, proudly aligning itself with the hated inside, celebrating credentialism, and worst of all, cheering a censorship movement that’s now proven to be an abject failure.

Do you see why the more that the journalistic establishment demonizes Viktor Orban, the more American conservatives will love him? I'm old enough to remember when this or that awful Trump gaffe was going to sink his candidacy. I myself thought that when the "grab them by the pussy" tape came out, Trump was done. Nothing Viktor Orban said, or allegedly said, to Hungarians at a summer camp in Transylvania are going to hurt him with Americans.

What is there to admire about Orban, for conservative Americans? As I see it:

1) he not only shares their nationalist, populist-conservative views, but he has been an effective advocate for them in his own country;

2) he grasps that the Left's ideological capture of institutions is a key battleground;

3) he understands that we are not in a normal political cycle now, but one in which we have to fight for the existence of our civilization -- and that the Left, as well as the globalist Right, are on the side of dissolving what makes the West special;

4) he believes in the importance of nations, and does not apologize for preferring his own people and their particular traditions, versus what globalists, immigrationists, and capitalists prefer;

5) and he does not apologize for believing that the natural family is the bedrock of civilization, and must be defended in law;

6) he is totally against "gender ideology," and is willing to endure the hatred of progressive international elites to protect Hungarian children from being propagandized by transgender advocates

7) he gets that fighting politically under the traditional rules of liberalism disadvantages the Right, because the Left controls the terms of discourse, and is fully engaged in the Orwellian project of remaking language to conceal meaning (e.g., anti-white racism as "anti-racism"; "diversity" as rigidly controlled thought, etc.)

8) he understands that mass migration means the end of nations -- though, as I pointed out above, Orban has a more nuanced view of this stuff than people think. He quite understandably believes that Hungary would cease to be Hungary if it became home to a large community of non-Hungarians. But he also more broadly believes that Western Christianity forms its own "race" and civilization, which is why he thinks that legal migration of Latinos (Catholic and Protestant) to the US -- which is not monoethnic, as Hungary is -- is on balance a good thing.

Now, if you are a liberal, a progressive, or a neocon, I understand why you would oppose Orban and all his pomps and works! But you should at least do yourself a favor and try to understand why he appeals to strong majorities of the Hungarian people -- and why he appeals to the kind of conservatives gathered at CPAC. If you satisfy yourself with pants-peeing emoting about "racism" and "anti-Semitism" and "fascism," you will totally miss the meaning of Viktor Orban, and only strengthen his appeal to grassroots conservative Americans.

I mean, look: we are in a moment in time in which the southern border is wide open for illegal migration; in which US public health authorities lost immense authority over their handling of Covid; in which inflation is destroying people's savings; in which people have to worry about their children's minds being colonized by radical ideologues planting thoughts in the kids' malleable brains that that might be the opposite sex -- and interposing the authority of the State between kids and parents; and in which a racist anti-white ideology has conquered all the major institutions of American life, such that it disadvantages half the people in America because of the color of their skin. We are dealing with all of this, but the liberal commentariat believes that the real threat is from a successful Hungarian populist who comes to the US to offer Americans friendship and advice on how to prevail in politics? Really?

Orban is also strongly criticized by US pundits for not going all-in on the Ukraine war. The standard line is that he is Putin's lapdog. That's it. As usual, go to an Orban speech (the one in Transylvania will do) to grasp the complexity of his thinking about the war. It's too long to quote here, but it's important if you want to grasp why Orban believes the things he does about the war. The Americans who slam him for being "pro-Putin" because he wants peace are the same kind of Americans who called conservatives like Pat Buchanan "unpatriotic" because they opposed the Iraq War. Have we not seen enough misery and suffering from the pointless American wars of the last twenty years to understand that we should at least listen seriously to the opinions of critics like Viktor Orban?

Europe is now facing a grave economic crisis because of its handling of the war. Russia has greatly diminished its natural gas deliveries to Europe, and may cut them off entirely. The European Union prefers not to use Russian gas, as punishment to Russia for the invasion. That's certainly the EU's prerogative, but you can't just turn that supertanker around on a dime. Hungary gets 85 percent of its gas from Russia. The EU demands that the Hungarians destroy their economy to support the EU's totally ineffective policy towards Russia. More importantly for the continent, Germany is so dependent on Russian gas that without it, whole sectors of German industry is at risk of shutting down. If German industry shuts down, so does the engine of the European economy.

Whether or not Germany, Hungary, and other European countries should have become so dependent on Russian gas is a very good question. But with winter coming, it's an abstraction. The fact is, they are, and Orban has warned that Europe could see mass unrest this winter, with governments falling. This is the real world for Europeans -- a world that they must live in, while American critics of Orban's realism don't have to worry about heat being rationed to their houses this winter, or a deep economic recession caused by German industries grinding to a halt.

In his piece, Jamie Kirchick -- a Ukraine war hawk -- faults Orban for "perfunctory" criticism of Putin over the invasion, but what does that mean, "perfunctory"? Obviously it means that Kirchick thinks Orban is insincere. But as someone who was living in Hungary when the invasion happened, I can tell you that I did not speak with a single Hungarian who supported the invasion, or had a good thing to say about the Russians. Rather, they thought it was foolish for NATO to get involved in the war, and were afraid that the fighting would spill across their border, and involve them. Again, the prospect of a modern war being fought on American soil is non-existent, but it was electrifying in Hungary. The Hungarians proved themselves in 1956 willing to risk everything to fight Russians for their freedom, but they correctly see the Ukraine-Russia war as rather more complicated (even as they condemn Putin's aggression, as Orban has done). I remember Western media coverage of the Hungarian election, with journalists certain that Orban's dissent from the main EU/NATO war narrative was going to bring him down. In fact, he spoke for the Hungarian people, who want a negotiated peace.

It's common to read among pro-war Americans the sentiment that tying Putin up in eastern Ukraine is worth the cost to us. That's cold as hell. I spoke the other day to an American who had received an intelligence briefing on the Ukraine war. He told me that the Ukrainians are marching into a meat grinder. The average time today between a Ukrainian soldier being sent to the front and coming home in a casket is ten days. Many of us Americans are willing to fight Putin to the last Ukrainian, it seems. Moreover, CBS News reported the other day that only a fraction of the tens of billions in military aid the US and other Western nations have sent to Ukraine is actually making it to the front; most of the aid is diverted by local warlords and oligarchs. (CBS has today updated its report to say that the delivery is improving.)

Can we not at least consider whether or not our Ukraine strategy is working? Orban correctly believes that the Ukrainian government cannot prevail against Putin's military, and that Europeans are sacrificing their own economies for a lost cause. He further believes that the United States should be taking the lead in negotiating an end to the war. He's right about all of it, I believe, but even if his analysis is off, shouldn't it at least be taken seriously? Dismissing him as "Putin's lackey" and not taking what he's saying seriously is idiotic and self-harming.

What the Left and the neocon Right are trying to do to Orban is police the discussion, in part by caricaturing what Orban really believes and really says, in order to demonize him and his views to American audiences, who depend on them for information about Hungary. Orban coming to America and speaking, in English, directly to American conservatives, is a real breakthrough for Orban and his nationalist conservatism. American conservatives can read, listen, and watch for themselves to see if this Magyar is a "fascist," as he has been called. I hope that more and more American conservatives will travel to Hungary, where they will see a free country where people can say anything they like -- as an unwoke society, it is more free than the United States in that regard -- whose social values are about where the United States was in the mid-1990s (or even more progressive than where we were then, as same-sex couples in Hungary can have civil unions). Put simply, the US media, for the most part, lie about Hungary.

But they are talking only to themselves. With Orban, they are doing exactly what they did, and do, with Trump: missing the deeper meaning of their popularity. While Randi Weingarten and other prominent liberals screech about all the so-called anti-Semites criticizing George Soros and the progressive prosecutors he funds, ordinary people -- even liberals, as in the San Francisco voters who recalled progressive DA Chesa Boudin -- are getting sick and tired of being told that it's racist to be tired of crime. Many Americans (including liberals who haven't yet found the courage to speak out) are getting sick and tired of being told that to object to gender ideology being shoved down the throats of their children in school is bigotry -- and they don't see why Orban should be demonized for passing a law in Hungary making that illegal. Many Americans -- including Latino ones -- don't understand why it's supposed to be racist to oppose open borders; if it makes them "fascist" to believe that borders mean something, okay, then, they'll be fascist. And they don't understand why it is a pearl-clutching horror to oppose anti-white racism, or the demonization of Christianity, or why Jews are expected to hate European migration policies that make European Jews safer in their own countries.

And so forth. So, when Zack Beauchamp and his lot caterwaul about how the conservative movement is trying to make Washington into "Budapest-on-the-Potomac," more and more of us say, "If only!" We should actually be thankful to the liberal media for advancing the cause with its head-in-the-sand hysteria. The more they slander Orban as racist, fascist, homophobic, and so forth, the more attention they draw to him from normie conservatives, who know all too well that they have been denounced in the same way for believing things that most people believed in the day before yesterday.

One more thing. An American friend who has lived for many years in Europe, mostly in Italy, writes in defense of Orbanism:

Euro elites (like the Bushes with Iraq and Afghanistan) think they can impose their deracinated ‘European values’ on the Muslims pouring into Europe through some sort of osmosis (along with various “integration” programs). Italy’s Democratic Party (and their Bergoglian counterparts in the Church) have a quasi-religious belief in this. Despite the shocking scenes seen daily in Italian cities. Oh, they say, the fact that the old town of Genoa is overrun with North and Subsaharan African criminals is because of Italian racism and not enough “integration” programs. There are never enough integration programs, and there is always “so much more to do” to tackle racism.

If you want to know what he's talking about, and why ordinary Europeans who have to live with the results of EU/Soros-style migration ideals, watch this section of a Dutch TV documentary about how Genoa is heavily populated with migrants. Here's an elderly Italian shopkeeper talking about how the old city is now overrun with migrants who sell drugs. As I said above, Orban has seen what uncontrolled migration has meant for other European nations, and wants no part of it. Can you blame him?

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Chris Karr
Chris Karr
"Europe is now facing a grave economic crisis because of its handling of the war. Russia has greatly diminished its natural gas deliveries to Europe, and may cut them off entirely. The European Union prefers not to use Russian gas, as punishment to Russia for the invasion. That's certainly the EU's prerogative, but you can't just turn that supertanker around on a dime. Hungary gets 85 percent of its gas from Russia. The EU demands that the Hungarians destroy their economy to support the EU's totally ineffective policy towards Russia. More importantly for the continent, Germany is so dependent on Russian gas that without it, whole sectors of German industry is at risk of shutting down. If German industry shuts down, so does the engine of the European economy."

For all his talk of nationalism and sovereignty, Orbán would do a great deal to bolster his credibility (and I borrow a phrase from a recent post of yours) Walk the Walk, and Not Just Talk the Talk. Aside from fighting minor culture war skirmishes and pretending that they will be consequential generations ahead, if Orbán believes what he's saying, it's time for Hungary to exit the EU (and NATO) and chart their own course AND demonstrate that Orbán's brand of populist conservatism is sustainable without allies footing Hungary's defense costs and the EU subsidizing Hungary's economy. The UK left the EU, the Swiss have done their own thing since the beginning - let's see what a Hungary, left to its own devices and resources (human and natural), can do as well.
schedule 2 months ago
    Michael Campbell
    Michael Campbell
    In the short term, Hungary needs German export markets too much. Orban can't do more than fume at Berlin and Brussels and fan populist flames within the bloc. This works for him with Eurocrat-skeptical Hungarians.

    In the long term, Hungary's pipeline away from the EU is the same route as its gas pipelines - through Turkey, most likely. Turkey, like Hungary, is turning more away from the EU, Turkey is already on the fringe of NATO in multiple ways, Turkey is playing both sides on the Ukraine War just like Hungary wants to. Budapest has more kinship with Ankara than with Berlin right now.

    German industrial capital invested in Hungary and Turkey would no doubt actually like them to spurn the EU and keep getting Russian gas (and perhaps Qatari etc in the future, if Turkey's broader neo-Ottoman ambitions are realized). With EU production doomed to take a hit as the EU embarks on a drive not just to survive the winter but eliminate the reliance of its resource-poor land on foreign energy in general, nearby partners like these are a way for European economic interests to effectively launder their gas use. This is where Orban really wants to get to - to be able to dictate the terms of the relation to a poorer, more isolated EU, including its capital owners, and also be a bridge in resource flows between Europe and Russia/Eurasia (along with Turkey).
    schedule 2 months ago
      Chris Karr
      Chris Karr
      Great comment - thanks!
      schedule 2 months ago
        Michael Campbell
        Michael Campbell
        You're welcome! (I'd really like an upvote feature in here so good points can be acknowledged)
        schedule 2 months ago
          Peter Pratt
          Peter Pratt
          I would upvote that idea.
          schedule 2 months ago
    Giuseppe Scalas
    Giuseppe Scalas
    This doesn't make sense. Britain is a global country still benefitting from the Empire's leftovers and from cultural proximity with the US.
    Switzerland has an unique history and geographical position that cannot be replicated.
    What a Country can or cannot do is the working of centuries, and Orbán is doing a fine job of balancing Hungary international position in favor of his small Country while keeping at bay the destructive impulse of liberal ideology.
    So what's your point? Why should Hungary shoot herself in the foot?
    Sovereignty doesn't mean isolation. It means a balanced relationship with partners and neighbors that doens't sacrifice one's vital interests.
    Or do you think that the EU funds Hungary out of her bleeding heart? There is a mutual interest there.
    Moreover, Orbán has done the most important thing for a Country's sovereignty: keep Hungary's sovereign debt as a minimum and stay out of the Euro.
    schedule 2 months ago
      Chris Karr
      Chris Karr
      Orbán is now an international speaker traveling the circuit telling other people in other counties how they should structure their affairs. It's not clear why we should listen to him if his own country is incapable of existing as a sustainable and flourishing nation on its own (without the EU paying its bills and NATO guaranteeing its borders). It's like taking life advice from someone who survives by exploiting welfare and the social safety net.

      He's smart to focus on the culture war items that raise his profile, but that's not going to do anything (and will likely work against) developing local industries that produce something that makes them an equal trading partner with the rest of the world and staunch the youth and brain drain where promising young Hungarians are building lives for themselves elsewhere.

      It's a great grift him, but after he exits the world stage, it's extremely unclear that Hungary will have anything useful to show for it and didn't waste its time when it could have been improving its position in the world.
      schedule 2 months ago
Peter Pratt
Peter Pratt
The problem with ending the Ukraine War is the refusal to admit the truth of why it started: that the US proxy regime in Kiev had been built up for 8 years to pressure Russia and had engaged in terroristic assaults on Russian speaking Ukrainians for 8 years.

The US intentionally pushed Russia to war thinking the sanctions would cripple Russia. Instead Europe is being crushed. And Russia and China are closer than ever and a new global economic and political system is developing outside US control.

The idiots in Washington behind these policies can't admit their own failures. Russia might as well keep going until it has half the country and Ukraine can stop screaming like the Dark Knight from Monty Python.
schedule 2 months ago
    Michael Campbell
    Michael Campbell
    The US pushed Russia to war really more because of Europe than because of Russia (though a weaker Russia is of course not something the US would pass up). Russia was just the bait. By poking the bear, Europe has been driven in to our arms and its long term aim to regain strategic flexibility is dead as can be (America in, Russia out, Germany down). Compared to Europe, our costs are very marginal. Washington naturally does not give a damn about German industry.

    Nuland said it all the way back in 2014: "F*** the EU".

    Putin is more reliant on Xi in the short term, that's certain, to mop up gas production but in the long term Russia is wary of overreliance, and perhaps of China's own aims potentially leading to a war with the West limiting China's value as an alternative route to the rest of the world. China itself has become far more closed down of late. I think it's Russian dependence on India and especially on Turkey that have grown the most in this war, presaged by the fact that all of the Russian oligarchs in Europe seemed to set their yachts on a course to Anatolia at the beginning. Russia seems to be aiming to partner with them as conduits for Russian products and foreign capital, because they're countries that the West itself needs, and can't really afford to alienate.

    If you want to trace flows of people and goods and capital to and from post-Ukraine-War Russia I think Istanbul is where you'd need to start off looking - google "russia turkey" - moreso than Manchuria.

    Ukraine is now even more of a crater, biggest loser
    Europe loses big
    Russia loses big
    US and China ??? (short term gain, longer term uncertainty)
    India and Turkey gain big
    Brazil, Iran, and Arab oil and gas exporters gain substantially

    I'm cynical about Washington's intentions, but actually kind of bullish about the long term impact. If I was French or especially Ukrainian, I would be very very angry however.
    schedule 2 months ago
    JON FRAZIER
    JON FRAZIER
    Stop this now. The choice to go to war in Ukraine was Putin's. Trying to finagle the blame so the US is at fault is a howling absurdity.
    schedule 2 months ago
      Peter Pratt
      Peter Pratt
      Jon, your statement is not true.

      Do you deny that the US overthrew the democratically elected government in Ukraine in 2014?

      Do you deny that the US built up the Ukrainian army for 8 years?

      Do you deny that the Ukrainians were bombing Russian speaking civilians for 8 years?

      Do you deny that Ukraine failed to implement the Minsk Accords?

      I could go on. Sure, Putin decided to go in, but that is like someone returning fire after terrorist shooter has already killed a bunch of people and is trying to kill more. And, yes, the US is the terrorist shooter in this conflict.
      schedule 2 months ago
        JON FRAZIER
        JON FRAZIER
        None of that is a proper causus belli. Period.
        I do deny the US overththrew anyone in 2014. The coup was homegrown.
        The US has built up many, many militaries throughout the world. I offer South Korea, as an example. Yet China does not go to war, but rather manages the situation by bypassing it and building up its power by various means elsewhere.
        Ukraine was having a civil war WITHIN ITS OWN BORDERS. Outside actors (and I do do mean everyone) should generally stay out of other nations' civil wars except to provide humanitarian aid, and if possible an honest broker service to negotiate a peace. They should not take the opportunity to gobble up foreign territory for themselves.
        Ukraine was NOT a candidate for NATO whatever delusions reigned in Kiev and whatever paranoia raged in Moscow.
        I repeat, and will do so until the sun turns nova: Russia has not just cause for war. Let Vladimir Putin be accursed in his coming and his going.
        schedule 2 months ago
          Peter Pratt
          Peter Pratt
          It was not homegrown. It was born in Washington, just like the prior coup a decade earlier. Only the most ignorant or the most extreme partisans dispute this.
          Again, this entire war was designed in Washington. They just thought Russia would collapse after the pre designed sanctions. Oops.
          schedule 2 months ago
          JON FRAZIER
          JON FRAZIER
          Peter Pratt you assert verbatim Russian propaganda without a scintilla of evidence. You may as well be telling me about seeing elves and fairies in your yard at night.
          schedule 2 months ago
          Michael Campbell
          Michael Campbell
          Re: Asserting verbating Russian propaganda

          Jon, you are aware that Nuland was caught by Russia on a hidden mic openly plotting the coup and installation of the new Ukrainian government, right? Who do you think rules Ukraine, the people, or oligarchs that do business with and rely on the US government? Is Ukraine so different from Russia with its oligarchs?

          You are aware that the US has made no secret of its desire to regime change Russia, right?

          You are aware that the US has often said that Russia fears a pro-Western successful Kiev on its doorstep, right?

          The US all but said "Attack Ukraine. I dare you." It backed Putin in to a corner, made him feel vulnerable and paranoid, because it wanted the dog to show its teeth. Strategically it was a masterful move. Europe is now firmly in lapdog position again and China gained a more pliant partner but lost a land route to Europe. EVERYONE before a war wants to finagle their enemy in to making the first strike, or making a mistake, or even false flags, so as to claim defensive justifications.

          Was the Pope, hardly a right wing US avatar, wrong in saying that the war was "perhaps somehow... provoked"? Lula in Brazil said “The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided war, not incited it”. US rightists are just discovering a healthy skepticism of US foreign policy justifications that everyone else abroad always had.
          schedule 2 months ago
          JON FRAZIER
          JON FRAZIER
          I repeat again: Russia had no just cause for war. Period.
          schedule 2 months ago
      Michael Campbell
      Michael Campbell
      Ever heard of forcing someone to make the decision you want them to make?
      schedule 2 months ago
      ROBERT GRANO
      ROBERT GRANO
      No one "forced" Putin to invade Ukraine, so on that level he bears full responsibility. But the U.S. and the West needled him into a reaction via cultural and economic sabre-rattling. It's not entirely Putin's fault that we didn't get the response we wanted. How many times does this kind of thing have to happen before we learn that our meddling doesn't always bring about the desired result? Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      Also, as always, follow the money. Who's benefiting from our involvement? Funny, but it seems to be that a lot of the same people who benefited from our Middle East involvement are benefiting here as well. Fancy that!
      schedule 2 months ago
Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell
Weingarten screeches about Orban and fascism while ignoring the cultish Covid policies she was a leading advocate for and from the very beginning (Norway, Sweden, etc), and simple logic, we knew were wrong. She's helped inflict permanent damage on an entire generation of children, with nonwhite children disproportionately affected. Oh, but watch out guys, Orban is evil!

After Covid no sane person should trust today's left on domestic policy ever again. And unlike Iraq, a similar elite-interest-masterminded, panic-driven disaster for the right on foreign policy, they have no dissenting faction ready-made to take the right's language and turn it on their side's leaders, forcefully, to regain support. Left populism is tainted and complicit and its miserable subservience easy for all to see, all real dissidents have been tarred and forced on to the right. Does AOC care about the families in her district? Obviously not.

The left likes racism as an attack because it's a potent one - no one likes the KKK or neo-Nazis - lessened by the fact that actual racists are really marginalized and ignorable. With the right surviving by making up for collapsing college educated white votes with increasing white working class and nonwhite votes, the long term irrelevance of this attack electorally is very clear.

Of course by attacking white people as blood-guilt-racists that has made white people understandably angry and very polarized against the left, but the left really dug its grave by going from that to attacking the police, and attacking America's libertarian nature during Covid. Those were the two bridges too far. Turns out when you define "white supremacy" as "a functioning country", "white supremacy" is a majority belief among all but the progressive laptop class whose cultish views, money, or both insulate them from reality.
schedule 2 months ago