Hungary as a “field of operation”

Paranoia seems to have swept through the Hungarian government. Fidesz politicians are convinced that the United States wants to remove Viktor Orbán and cause his government’s fall. All this is to be achieved by means of the “phony” charge of corruption.

Recently a journalist working for Hetek, a publication of Hitgyülekezet (Assembly of Faith), managed to induce some high-ranking members of the government to speak about the general mood in Fidesz circles. The very fact that these people spoke, even about sensitive topics, to a reporter of a liberal paper points to tactical shifts that must have occurred within the party.

Their argument runs along the following lines. Until now the Obama administration paid little attention to the region, but this past summer the decision was made to “create a defensive curtain” in Central Europe between Russia and the West. The pretext is the alleged fight against corruption. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania are the targets. Fidesz politicians point to recent Slovak demonstrations against corruption which were “publicly supported” by the U.S. ambassador in Bratislava. Or, they claim, the Americans practically forced the Romanian government to take seriously the widespread corruption in the country. They are certain that the resignation of Petr Nečas, the former Czech prime minister, “under very strange circumstances” was also the work of the CIA.

In its fight against the targeted Central European governments Washington relies heavily on NGOs and investigative journalists specializing in unveiling corruption cases. George Soros’s name must always be invoked in such conspiracy theories. And indeed, Átlátszó.hu, sponsored in part by the Soros Foundation, was specifically mentioned as a tool of American political designs.

To these Fidesz politicians’ way of thinking, all of troubles recently encountered by the government are due solely to American interference. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the government itself has given plenty of reason for public disenchantment. In fact, the first demonstrations were organized only against the internet tax. Admittedly, over the course of weeks new demands were added, and by now the demonstrators want to get rid of Viktor Orbán’s whole regime.

The Fidesz politicians who expressed an opinion think, I am sure incorrectly, that the Americans have no real evidence against Ildikó Vida and, if they do, they received it illegally. Vida got into the picture only because of the new “cold war” that broke out between the United States and Russia. Hungarian corruption is only an excuse for putting pressure on the Hungarian government because of its Russian policy and Paks.  As for Hungary’s “democracy deficit” and American misgivings about Orbán’s “illiberal state,” Fidesz politicians said that if the United States does not accept Orbán’s system of government as “democratic” and if they want Fidesz to return to the status quo ante, this is a hopeless demand. “Not one Hungarian right-wing politician would lend his name to such ‘retrogression.'”

The latest American “enemy” of the Orbán government is the State Department’s Sarah Sewall, Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, who a week ago gave a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in which she said that “we [recently] denied visas to six Hungarian officials and their cronies due to their corruption. This action also bolstered public concern, and on November 9th, the streets of Budapest filled with 10,000 protesters who called for the resignation of corrupt public officials.” As soon as Hungarian officials discovered the text of that speech, André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé in Budapest, was once again called into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

I think it would be a mistake to characterize the American fight against corruption simply as a smokescreen for exerting political pressure on foreign governments. Sewall in that speech explains the potentially dangerous political ramifications of corruption.

Corruption alienates and angers citizens, which can cause them to lose faith in the state, or, worse, fuel insurgencies and violent extremism…. Ukraine …provides [an] illustration of how corruption can both increase instability risks and cripple the state’s ability to respond to those risks. The Maidan Movement was driven in part by resentment of a kleptocratic regime parading around in democratic trappings.

All this makes sense to me, and what Sewall says about Ukraine is to some extent also true about Hungary. But the Fidesz leadership sees no merit in the American argument. In fact, today both Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó used very strong words to accuse the United States of interfering in Hungary’s internal affairs.

"We can't pay as much in taxes as you steal"

“We can’t pay as much in taxes as you steal”

Viktor Orbán sent a message from Belgrade. The prime minister does not know why the United States put aside 100 million dollars for “the preparation of an action plan against two dozen Central- and East-European countries in order to put pressure on their governments.” The United States declared Hungary to be a “field of operation,” along with others. Referring to Sewall’s speech, he expressed his dissatisfaction that he has to learn about such plans from a public lecture. “If someone wants to work together with Hungary or with any Central-European government for a good cause, we are open. We don’t have to be pressured, there is no need to spend money behind our backs, there is no necessity of organizing anything against us because we are rational human beings and we are always ready to work for a good cause.” It is better, he continued, to be on the up and up because Hungarians are irritated by slyness, trickery, and diplomatic cunning. They are accustomed to straightforward talk. (He presumably said this with a straight face.)

Viktor Orbán’s reference to the military term “field of operation” captured the imagination of László Földi, a former intelligence officer during the Kádár regime as well as for a while after 1990, who announced that in secret service parlance “field of operation” means that every instrument in the intelligence service can be used to undermine the stability of a country. The Americans’ goal, as Orbán sees it, is the removal of his government.

Meanwhile the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who were brought in by Péter Szijjártó are solidly anti-American. They consider the diplomats who served under János Martonyi to be “American agents” because of their alleged trans-atlantic sentiments. So I don’t foresee any improvement in American-Hungarian relations in the near future, unless the economic and political troubles of Putin’s Russia become so crippling that Orbán will have to change his foreign policy orientation. But given the ever shriller condemnations and accusations, it will be difficult to change course.

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69 comments

  1. Please read my text carefully. I simply illustrated, that accusations are meaningless, unless a proof and source of that proof is provided. If I say, that you are stupid, that is meaningless accusation, since there is no proof and there is no basis, for me to say so.

  2. The Defintion of “Troll” and “Trollerei”

    By (recent) definition, a troll is an anonymous trouble-maker who acts out publicly online without being answerable for his (or her or their) actions.

    Many trolls are just mentally distrurbed, borderline personalities, though a new cadre of paid political (or perhaps even commercial) trolls exist now too, bank-rolled to make mischief, usually to support or attack a certain point of view. Russia is famous for making trollerei a new trade (I posted some links about this a few weeks ago):

    http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-nashi-anonymous-opyoungbustards-2012-2

    But if someone posts openly, answerable with his name and reputation, “troll” is not the right descriptor, no matter how extreme or kooky the poster may be.

    There seems to be a real Rev Albert W. Kovacs, so if the one posting to HS under that name is indeed that person, then RAWK is not a troll.

    http://christianobserver.org/hungarian-reformed-church-of-johnstown-windber-pennsylvania-elects-the-rev-albert-w-kovacs-new-minister/

    https://plus.google.com/110409807896809162562/videos?pid=5897890112760450850&oid=110409807896809162562

    (RAWK does not seem, to me, to be a very rigorous thinker, however. Now that his obvious incoherencies have been pointed out, I would recommend not inteacting with him. Some people have idées fixes that dominate their thinkingk, their reasoning, and even their moral judgment, come what may. RAWK seems to be a believer, right wing, and he seems to have some sort of sentimental connection with Hungary (even if he was not born there and does not speak the language). His ideas are extremely primitive — neither well-informed, nor insightful, nor constructive. The reason he was taken for a troll was that his “views” are perfectly well aligned with the ideas that real trolls keep airing in this forum. Even though RAWK is not a troll, I suggest that the “don’t feed the trolls” injunction applies to him as well: Nothing positive will come out of continuing to indulge his rather murky biasses: just more murk.)

  3. THe interesting part about Orban is given a pay raise to the police, and the army is that they are sucking away money form Canada and the USA in order to pay for this. THey are playing the same game with North America as they pay wit the EU. They PR against it, but they pay for their PR form the money received..
    Canada has been footing the bill for fighter pilot training for financially strapped Hungary, one of several newer NATO countries that have been struggling to keep up with their wealthier allies.

    “Hungary couldn’t afford the $9 million a year to send pilots to the NATO Flying Training Centre in Moose Jaw, Sask., according to documents produced by the Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Air Force and obtained by the Citizen.

    So Canada stepped in with the money to cover training for 2012 and 2013. The DND has also proposed to spend $9 million this year, $10 million in 2015 and $11 million in 2016 to cover Hungary’s pilot training costs, according to the documents.

    Hungary has asked Canada to cover the training costs until 2021.”
    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/politics/canada-paid-for-cash-strapped-hungarys-fighter-pilot-training

  4. Seawall was quite clear about the US intensions about corupcy. It could be a shining new opportunity to whoever follow the present government to terminate corupcy and cleptocracy. Even help from the US should be welcomed, I mean qualified experts help.

  5. The Hungarian Way Of Thinking

    re: 30% pay increase to the military

    Reading the comments, I see that people have not cottoned on to the Hungarian way of thinking.
    Orban’s intent with the undeserved raise of 30% is to get the military firmly behind him.
    Here’s how:

    1) The military well knows that another, non-Fidesz government will probably roll back their raises;

    2) The members of the military now have an advantage that they must protect and will inform on
    any military attempts to unite against the government;

    3) For good measure, the many wives will also seek to protect their economic gain and will monitor their husbands against any possible move on Fidesz/Orban. In other words, Orban
    has created legions of INFORMANTS for himself in the military and security forces.

    And with this pay raise, Orban has signalled to the populace that they should not expect
    any assistance should they turn on him.

    (Ahh, the pleasures of being a Hungaricoe!)

  6. re: “…attack on the sovereignty of Hungary…”

    Ahem. Hungary has NO sovereignty: Orban has stolen it all. Only Orban has sovereignty.

  7. I second Eva’s info regarding the language skills of the Reverend – I’ve got the answer from him when I sent him a link in Hungarian – he said that his Hungarian isn’t good enough, (to correspond in correct Hungarian, I guess) so he has to get translated by someone.
    Which is a rather sensible act, as opposed to misunderstandings and all that, as I see it.

  8. So, the Beloved Leader of All Hungarians gotten all worked up on the fact, that the US decided to inspire/push the region toward eradicating corruption?

    I look forward to hear as he will announce one of these days, that corruption is indeed an old Hungarian tradition, pat of our culture, and anyway, corruption means totally different in Hungarian as in English, an it isn’t his problem really…

    Next step is to declare corruption as “Hungaricum”, along with “pálinka”, “tárogató”, etc.

    It will work just fine, he can do this too!

    The least a sovereign state could do to show all to those yanks..!

  9. So if the reverend only gets his information from English language publications, and we do know that the government’s official news withhold information (this is proven), and provides translations that often miss several paragraphs (proven), then we must ask, what is the base of the reverend trying to prove over and over that we are all wrong when it comes to the current Hungarian affairs?

  10. we all know, US wants to preserve the economical domination in this region as well and they are not afraid to use force as well in order to keep their position without showing respect of a country souvenity. The more economical problem the US have in future the more violated action we might expect in US foreign policy. Like the Roman empire…

  11. It is like Hungarian state would financialy support so called “civil groups” in US to create political destability under the camouflage of “action plan for defending afroamerican minority” because recently afroamericans were victims of US state brutality. It is plain to see what US wants and all the people here knows. It has nothing to do with corruption but money.

  12. Some1 & Webber – It is the Hungarian voters “[proving] over and over that we are all wrong when it comes to the current Hungarian affairs.” Should I take their word for it, or yours? … Where I come into the discussion is when you look to Americans as critics of Hungarian govt. Then I’ve said Washington and US states are certainly no measure of wholesomeness, and until it gets its own house in order it shouldn’t criticize Hungary’s govt. … Pennsylvania is about the same size as Hungary in area and population. Yesterday’s news carried the story about the state’s Attorney General failure to charge with corruption two state legislators involved with kickbacks, one involving some $430,000. Her hands are not clean because they were from her Democrat party (same as Obama’s). … One of my big concerns is the effort to SMEAR THE HUNGARIAN PEEOPLE as Jew killers in WW2. Yes, there were many anti-Semitics who worked with the Nazis to identify Jews and send them to extermination. (They are like the black hater KKK in America who whipped, lynched and persecuted blacks. It was by far only a small part of America’s people, but they bullied their way and controlled many state legislatures and offices.) ….But there were many Hungarians who did not, who hid the Jews – so 250,000 survived!. Many more also in Romania, etc. (My “Hungarian” cardiologists Kovacs and Szabo here can testify how their Jewish families were saved.) … But the “opposition” wants to embarrass the current government with a “catch 22.” If they won’t go along and allow the smear of ALL Hungarians, they are accused of totally avoiding responsibility. If they were to go along, they would be charged with denying the courage of many Hungarians who saved the quarter-million Jews Who in all of Europe did better for its size?. … This plays into the hands of Jobbik, the modern version of Arrow Cross, because Hungary still has its minority anti-Semites (USA has its radical “rednecks”). … Of great economic significance is the fact that Hungary was squelched in its industrial and business growth by the Russian overlords for 40+ years, who controlled the economy and kept the nation subservient. Recovery from that is not an overnight process. Hungary is still behind, and needs the help it gets from EU nations and anyone else. But the picture is improving, if I may believe any of the news that I receive. … But you represent the “opposition” and will throw any stones you can find where there is a problem. … But the worst thing you can do is to try to bully people into silence – “destroy the messenger and you destroy his message.” But silence can be deafening!

  13. Of the reverend’s ramblings I just read the last sentence (the rest being probably as OT as can be …):
    ” But the worst thing you can do is to try to bully people into silence – “destroy the messenger and you destroy his message.” But silence can be deafening!”
    That perfectly describes what happened around Mr Goodfriend’s “accusations” of corruption in the NAV …

    It’s probably too much to expect the reverend to concentrate more on Hungary – in that respect he is almost equal to our latest troll maxx, though maybe not as lunatic …

  14. MAXX:
    Just like Roman times. Without a strong leader and policy maker, the barbarians would have massacred each others and chaos would reign. Barbarians do not develop civilizations, culture, science and progress in medicine, agriculture, industry. Empires do!
    The viktor is a good example of a barbarian. Does not know finances, economy, education history, democracy and generally nothing. He is a Chimpanzee King. Therefore he ruins his country not only for the present. The US, China and to some degree Putin’s Russia are fighting for the lead. Each has his own version of the future for the World. We want ours to succeed, our life style to prevail.
    WITHOUT A CONDUCTOR, THE ORCHESTRA CANNOT PLAY THE MUSIC PROPERLY AND SOON THE MUSICIANS FORM LITTLE GROUPS TO PLAY THEIR FAVORITE PIECES. THERE WILL NOT BE A CONCERT, NOBODY WILL PAY TO SEE THEM AND THEY DIE STARVING. THAT IS WHY THE WORLD NEEDS CONDUCTORS!
    If one don’t like the music the US conducts, there is always China, Russia or the Arab World. Everybody can select their place of happiness.

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