While we were snooping around in Felcsút and downtown Budapest over the weekend, Viktor Orbán and his old pal from college days, László Kövér, were working hard to make American-Hungarian relations even worse than they already are.
The offensive started with a letter that László Kövér addressed to American Vice President Joe Biden. In it he complained about Senator John McCain’s speech in the Senate, in which McCain called Viktor Orbán “a neo-fascist dictator.” McCain with this unfounded statement “violated the sovereignty of Hungary.” The lack of respect McCain showed toward one of the leaders of the trans-atlantic alliance is unacceptable, said Kövér. But, he continued, McCain’s outburst is not just the single misstep of an ill-informed senator but “a brutal manifestation of a process which is becoming evident by the statements, gestures, behavior of government officials and persons who are in contact with the Hungarian government.” Kövér in the letter asked Biden to use his influence to temper the statements of government officials. In plain English, Kövér demanded a change in U.S. policy toward Hungary.
Kövér’s letter to Biden was followed by a Sunday interview with an MTI reporter in which Kövér expressed the same opinion, but even more forcefully than in his letter. From the Hungarian government’s perspective, American-Hungarian relations can be improved only by a change in U.S. policy. Hungary is an innocent victim, and therefore its government has no intention of changing its current posture in either foreign or domestic affairs. In this interview he actually accused the United States of playing a concerted “geopolitical game” in which the U.S. “is using us, the Czechs, the Romanians, and the Slovaks for their plans ‘to make order’ in the immediate hinterland of the front line.” In his opinion, the situation is worse than it seems on the surface because “on the intermediate level of the State Department there are people who have been the opponents and enemies not only of Hungary but also of Fidesz-KDNP.” Fidesz politicians are absolutely convinced that Hungary’s bad reputation at the moment is due solely to antagonistic liberal critics of the Orbán regime who influence the middle stratum of government officials in the State Department. His final word on the subject was: “The key to the normalization of the bilateral relations is not in our hands.”
Today, echoing Kövér’s tirade, Viktor Orbán delivered a speech in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at a conference commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Timișoara/Temesvár events in December 1989 which eventually led to the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu. I must say one needs quite a fertile imagination to smuggle an attack on the United States into a speech on such an occasion, but Orbán managed. He quoted László Tőkés, the Calvinist minister who was the hero of the Romanian revolution, who apparently said on some occasion that “words uttered at the right time and place equal in value the Word of the Creator.” From here, with a sharp turn, he got to those “words uttered not at the right place” which produce destruction. Because calling another country a dictatorship, especially when uttered by those who have never in their lives lived in anything resembling a dictatorship, is wanton destruction. “Yet they think they are in possession of a description of a phantom picture of dictatorship, when they don’t see, they don’t know its essence.”
From here he moved easily to Yalta and Potsdam where “the representatives of the western world were not too worried about checks and balances” and “offered the people of Eastern Europe tyranny on a platter.” In 1989 each of those countries alone had to get rid of the shackles that were put on them in 1944-1945.
Checks and balances had to be on the Hungarian prime minister’s mind throughout the weekend because earlier he gave a very lengthy interview to Zoltán Simon of Bloomberg. Here I will summarize only those parts that have a direct bearing on U.S.-Hungarian relations. According to Orbán,”the U.S. in response to the geopolitical situation, has come up with an action plan, which they recently announced publicly, and it involves two dozen countries. This is fundamentally trying to influence alleged corruption in these two dozen countries.”
I suspect that the interview was conducted in English, a language in which the prime minister is no wordsmith, because these two sentences make no sense to me. Perhaps what he wanted to say was that the United States is using the “fight against corruption” as an excuse to influence other countries’ foreign policies. But “this is the land of freedom fighters. And there’s public feeling in Hungary that sees a sovereignty problem in all of this. It feels that this is an attempt to influence from the outside the sovereign decisions of a freely elected parliament.”
Moving on to the U.S. criticism of Viktor Orbán’s “illiberal democracy,” he delivered the following history lesson to ignorant Americans:
Checks and balances only have meaning in the United States, or in presidential systems, where there are two identical sovereigns, that is a directly elected president and legislature. In Europe, this isn’t the case, there’s only one sovereign, there’s nowhere to “checks it or balance it,” because all of the power is delegated by parliament. In these instances it’s much more appropriate to talk about cooperation rather than checks and balances. Checks and balances is a U.S. invention that for some reason of intellectual mediocrity Europe decided to adopt and use in European politics.
Poor Montesquieu, who coined the term “checks and balances.” Or the ancient Greeks, who are generally credited with having introduced the first system of checks and balances in political life.
As for the American and European criticism of the illiberal state, Orbán’s answer is: “Hungarians welcomed illiberal democracy, the fact that in English it means something else is not my problem.”
Finally, an update on Ildikó Vida, who filed a complaint against an unnamed person who just happens to be M. André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Budapest. Everything is proceeding apace. She filed the complaint on Friday, December 12 and by today the prosecutors are already investigating. Magyar Nemzet speculates that the investigators will call in “witnesses,” but the paper admits that it is possible that “Goodfriend will easily get off.” The Hungarian judicial system, which is normally slow as molasses, can be very speedy when Viktor Orbán wants to expedite matters.
@István re 1919 and Béla Kun. The whole accusation is so ridiculous that it is not worth commenting on it.
There are a couple of things one ought to keep in mind when we talk about these 133 days. (1) The Hungarian public was so desperate when from north, east and west Czechoslovak, Romanian, and Serbian troops were occupying more and more territories that the Communist propaganda (a) that Soviet Russia will come and help and (b) there will be soon a world revolution when borders will not matter was the only hope for them. (2) These great patriots today can say all sorts of nasty things about the Hungarian Soviet Republic a great deal of which is justified but we must keep in mind that they were the only ones who managed to recruit an army that was ready to fight the invaders.
Béla Kun’s problem was that he had no political sense and did all sorts of really stupid things which alienated people from his regime. Especially the nationalization of all lands turned the countryside against him. And then he used brutal force to quell the local uprisings. About 300 victims of the Red Terror were found by the chief prosecutor in 1920. At the same time the White Terror had about 1,000 victims. So, no one can feel terribly virtuous. Those were nasty times.
That English saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” springs to mind. Is there a similar one in Hungarian? And what if you would rather die?
The United States if it wanted to overthrow the elected Hungarian government for strategic reasons relating to the confrontation with the Russian Federation would have done so already. That is not the objective of my government, it is an absurd theory that fits the needs of the corrupt Fidesz regime. We will not stand by and allow our companies to be shaken down by officals of the Hungarian government, great powers do not allow that to happen except under very rare circumstances.
A very unfortunate example of where the USA allowed such corrupt practices was with the Iraqi government of Nouri al Malki and in Afganistan under Hamid Karzai. But in both of those situations those corrupt governments were given a pass because we were in a direct military conflict in those countries. Even in those situations the United States effectively limited the extortion on the part of government officals to non US owned subsidiaries of larger US firms. The situation in Hungary is not comparable and US corporations do not need to endure corruption for the sake of a larger foreign policy goal in Central Europe. The United States of America’s very first overseas war was in1801 against the Barbary Pirates in North Africa over the issue of paying tribute in order to conduct trade on the seas. Every officer in the US military is taught this history, we as a matter of general policy do not pay bribes to corrupt governments.
It’s easy for those with bulging pockets to straddle both sides of the political fence… nobody would do anything to risk losing that luxurious lifestyle if they thought it had been the result of actions that might disgrace them- provided these were disclosed to the tiny minority of people left who do not live like well-ordered zoo animals. Make sense?! It’s not a question of whether the US pays bribes to foreign governments to silence political prisoners [read: perfectly legitimate, law-abiding economic players; especially when compared to the norm in the business world]. It’s a question of how Canada tolerates this when it is behind separate political borders. If Quebec is, in fact, just another American state in a political and economic sense then others who live on the continent have a right to know this- even if that economy is a black market one. I’m not the one who condemns drug-users while my urine is awash with prescription medicine for psychiatric disorders and I missed the part where we stopped making Alcoholics Anonymous recommendations to heavy, dysfunctional drinkers because it upsets some cheap glutton whose degree in plumbing got her a nice comfy meal ticket- BECAUSE SHE WEEPS LIKE AN INFANT when people criticize her primitive and ruthlessly predatory business practices. I never refuted the effectiveness of psychiatric medicine but I did try it AGAINST MY CONSENT after the so-called “Microsoft Secret Police” which happen to be PAID through the TAX DOLLARS of the Canadian people turned a blind eye to outrageous human rights violations perpetrated in the name of “karma” because of some lying crook of a perverted Hollywood director whom I am certain does not speak for the moral majority of this country nor that of the United States- is paid by someone from New York to stifle anyone who does not follow his economic agenda- one that happens to be extremely racist and predatory against young children. Must I continue? I could fill a large book with government-sponsored human rights violations I suffered that don’t seem to matter because I am Hungarian- and for no other discernible reason. I’ve heard members of Canadian parliament mutter, “When will her people come help her?” under their breath- no regard for the fact that I WAS BORN HERE!!! How often does it occur that an entire community is targeted in this manner?! Why on EARTH do we think it’s OK that it’s never discussed in polite society- the way our countrymen are maligned!? I’ve heard the words, “crazy Hungarian” far too often from other Canadians when I see as many from neighboring nations with similar quirks and accents who have no problem in this country because they are hardened criminals who traffic people from the region while law enforcement does little to put a stop to the problem… law enforcement we who are extremely racially diverse, I might add, and ought to know better if they were not products of this insidiously flesh-obsessive culture and Hollywood has been more than complicit in seeding this problem. Frankly I am appalled by the treatment my family received in this country and I cannot see how it might continue for so long unless the government of Hungary were somehow complicit or else profited from it either through bribes or extortion as has been the trend we’ve witnessed throughout these corruption investigations. Any woman who claims to support my work and in the next breath takes steps to suppress credit and compensation for it is a TRAITOR to the people of Hungary, France, Canada and also to their fellow Americans. We’re not even going to mention the fecal jokes used to target visual minorities on a daily basis because we’re still struggling to get over the thinly-veiled rape allusions. Bad things that happen to other people are just hilarious!!!
Istvan, one more thing, Bela Kun and several of his fellow leaders of the Soviet Republic were jewish. In fact, I posit that just the mere reference to Bela Kun is an anti-semitic reference. It was so long ago, almost a 100 years ago and an entirely different social, political setting, and it is used as a supposedly relevant reference in 2014? No. It’s a reference to the – now American-lead – jewish conspiracy hell-bent on destroying our authentic Hungarian way of life. That’s all.
Seems to me nobody is pointing fingers at France or Italy- whose positions during WWII were not what you’d call generous… the EU are evidently little more than an organized group of pedophiles who fund terrorism throughout the region on behalf of these countries. They prey predominantly on those with strong Viking heritage. The Jews are incidental to all this. My understanding is it was a French woman who instigated this current state of affairs when she married into Jewish money at the turn of the last century.
Istvan from Chicago –
You are a refreshing rolemodel citizen, a proud American, a proud Hungarian.
You answered all comments based on the usual misinformation technique brilliantly.
Our new home, the USA is a great place. A country of great people.
We, the exiled Hungarians, are lucky to become Americans, and free at last,
Yes, we are lucky if the country we immigrate to provides us with employment options- especially in writing-related fields which are so very difficult to make a good living in.
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