by William Nattrass
Wednesday, 3
August 2022
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14:00

Orbán’s Ukraine message won’t sit well with Republicans

He warned that Europe and America have divergent interests in the war
by William Nattrass
Viktor Orbán said that US companies were profiting from the war. Credit: Getty

This week, American conservatives are flocking to Dallas for the CPAC Texas conference. Besides a headline appearance from Donald Trump, one of the event’s star attractions will be Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who casts a surprisingly large shadow in American conservative circles despite being “an autocrat astride a country whose GDP is more meagre than that of Kansas”, in the derogatory words of the Washington Post 

Orbán’s presence in Dallas has come under particular scrutiny following a controversial speech in Romania at the end of July, where he said Hungarians do not want to become a “mixed race”. The speech caused an international media maelstrom: “Viktor Orbán Will Still Speak at CPAC Despite ‘Nazi’ Speech Backlash”, thundered Bloomberg’s headline.  

Amid the tumult, one thing’s for sure: Orbán’s “race-mixing” speech has generated ample publicity for his big appearance in Texas. The international media don’t seem to realise that this was probably his intention all along. 

Why? Because Orbán will see his visit to America as a golden opportunity to bring Republicans around to his point of view on a far more pressing issue: the war in Ukraine. International headlines about his Romania speech focused on the race angle, but the (much longer) section intended for domestic consumption was all about the war: specifically, Orbán’s belief that the West has bet on a losing horse in Ukraine and that the best possible outcome would be an immediate, enforceable peace. 

Orbán doesn’t expect such a view to prevail in America under the Biden administration, claiming that only after US presidential elections in 2024 can “the first real opportunity for peace” be anticipated. As such, Hungary needs “a different plan” for Democrat and Republican rule. Orbán can therefore be expected to use his time in America to cultivate anti-war sentiments among a potential future US administration — after meeting with the Hungarian leader on Tuesday, Donald Trump wrote that “few people know as much about what is going on in the world today”.

What Republicans may not have picked up on, though, is Orbán’s belief that the USA and Europe have divergent interests in Ukraine: that the war harms Europe economically but benefits America. During his Romania speech, Orbán described how the EU’s Russia sanctions have “only added” to America’s long-term strategy — also pursued under Trump — of using energy as a “foreign policy weapon”. “In the shadow of the current Russia-Ukraine war, they have started to strongly encourage their allies — that would be us — to buy shipments from the USA.” Describing the wider economic impacts of the war, Orbán said that “the European Union is doing badly” but “the big American companies are doing well… Exxon’s profits will double in 2022, Chevron’s will quadruple, and ConocoPhillips’ will increase sixfold.”

US conservatives will no doubt feel themselves gracious in granting such a large platform to the leader of such a small nation — but Orbán may, in truth, be running rings around them.

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Steve White
Steve White
15 days ago

Fourth generation Texan, living in Southern Europe here… I suppose I will speak up…
So, do I have our choices figured out right here? Either we can live under right-leaning pseudo (or-real) strong-men ruling over us, or a propagandized, shaped, ruled and controlled left-leaning so called “democracy”, that pretends to allow freedom yet seems to want everyone in a sort of pro-queer, mono-culture and has absolutely shown its authoritarian teeth, and will not hesitate to label someone a racist, or anti-science, or bigoted (true or not) if it can take them out.
I mean, if I just go along and have the safe WEF and neo-liberal mainstream thoughts and opinions on Orban like you do, “Orban bad, Western media good!”, will I have to live in the pods and eat the bugs? “Bugs good, cows bad!, lockdowns good, printing too much money good, Urkaine can win this thing with more money and weapons, any second now.” All I need is a lobotomy and a pod. Enjoy this winter.
I think I’d rather take my chances outside that disintegrating bubble. To me the West seems on an inexorable path to decline and destruction, including some cold and hungry days. Aside from the alleged comment he made (which I have not heard and cannot speak Hungarian), he often appears to be the rightest politician in Europe on many things, and being genuinely right (not just propped up by the media as if you are) is something that seems to evade many sitting politicians these days

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve White
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

He is extremely racist. I guess you’re cool with that though. He also passed a law effectively removing any oversight and silencing any criticism of the Hungarian government – he can now rule by decree for an indefinite period of time. I guess you’re cool with that as well, full democracy is all so last-century isn’t it lol.  

Terry M
Terry M
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Rejecting immigration is not racist. Look how badly Sweden and Germany have been damaged, to say nothing of the USA. Silencing critics is abominable, so he is definitely an authoritarian. As Steve White said, is it better to live under a mildly authoritarian patriot who rejects the woke nonsense, or a thoroughly authoritarian mob rule of irrational, anti-science hypocrites? Neither is great, but one can improve the former.

Steve White
Steve White
14 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

This makes me think of one of the tenants of Wokeism. I consider it a sort of secular Puritanism, wherein only perfection on specific issues is accepted. It’s really a form of selective utopianism, where the particular issue of an imperfect world exists in the areas the controllers have chosen to make use of, be it racism or sexual freedom, environmentalism, or whatever, and through corporate, news, entertainment, pop-culture, and governmental mechanisms right-think is dispensed, and wrong-think is punished. It’s harnessed into a purely political and capitalistic mechanism to support a ruling class. Through the information age they have made the world into a machine, and we’re the bots, the resources to be moved to produce the results. The “hacked human animal”, and yet who are the useless people? Those with nothing to offer and no political power. What to do with them?  I don’t see good things ahead for this thing they have turned the whole Western world into.

Last edited 14 days ago by Steve White
Michael Keating
Michael Keating
13 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

Immigration has not destroyed the US, it built the US. The same racist arguments (stupid, crime and disease ridden, no value) that are used today were used against Italians, Irish, Slavs and Jews. How did that turn out? The only people who should have a gripe about immigration are Native Americans who must have looked on in horror as they were overrun by violent, disease ridden grifters throwing bibles in their faces and stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down, especially their land.

Steve White
Steve White
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Frank, thankfully, I can think for myself. I am pretty familiar with Hungary, have several Hungarian friends, and visit there quite often. I followed articles about Orban quite closely for many years, wondering if they were true, searching for myself context, as I would not want to invest in Hungary if he was. You know what I found? That most of the stuff said is either an outright lie, something taken out of context, or something where the author has panted him in a very harsh light, having taking a very selective view of reality themselves. 
This is one of the problems with modern journalism. Intellectual dishonesty, and really I have to wonder if the true-truth is valued at all by many of these writers, or a very selective understanding of the truth based on narrow and selective scopes of comprehension and personal biases, is how they understand truth, with their greater goal being results that please themselves. The truth, true-truth is an objective reality and judges even ourselves. It is the goal of an honest thinker to seek it out, to submit to it as much as possible, with the understanding that we ourselves are capable of believing what we want to be true. 
Now I would tend to guess that you probably bought every anti Orban article hook line and sinker, which is very normal. A lot of people do that. So, anyway, there is my 2 cents on the issue. Thank you for yours. 

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve White
Jeanie K
Jeanie K
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

The journos have adapted Markle style truth.
I hope you can read this while it is “awaiting for approval”
the mods cannot even use English grammar.

Nigel Rodgers
Nigel Rodgers
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

The Hungarians I know personally – who are not at all ‘woke’ and only intermittently concerned with politics – view Orban with horror for his deeply anti-democratic policies. Orban seems a man who has more sympathy for Putin’s autocratic rule than he has for the muddled compromises inherent in a democracy.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
14 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

He’s a fascist, and if had leadership of a bigger country we’d be in trouble. You’d get your motorways, trains on time, clean cities, and quiet disappearance of those who don’t conform.

Michael Keating
Michael Keating
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

A few examples of what you claim would be useful. Why should we believe you? Sounds to me you are doing the same thing of what you accuse others. We know that many journalists are clueless and have an agenda, but so do many other types. Orban is a troll heading an irrelevant little speck of the world. Who cares what he says?

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

No, what we all need is American Democrat party standards of democracy. I see the democrat party has already won the next presidential election as the votes have already been counted.
ps: this comment will now be classed as “awaiting (for) approval”

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

There goes the dog whistle again

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

silencing any criticism of the Hungarian government”
According to 2 friends in Budapest, last summer, Fidesz (Orban’s party) expected to lose. Not exactly the worry of an autocrat.

“he can now rule by decree for an indefinite period of time”
This is demonstrably false. While this did occur for about 6 months in 2020 during COVID, it is not the case. The Hungarian Parliament is alive and well, and the voters gave Fidesz a large majority in the 2022 elections.

He is extremely racist.”
Ahhh, the “go to” response for any liberal faces with real criticism of their policies!
When Europeans talk about “race” they don’t mean the same thing as Americans. In America “race” and “ethnicity” are largely synonyms. In Europe, “race” is more similar to “nation” or “culture”, especially in the context Orban was using it. Read the whole speech; it’s pretty obvious. I wish he hadn’t favorably cited Camp of the Saints because of its overt (real) racism, but his point was a Western culture so decadent it’s unwilling to defend itself from a rising Islam. Michel Houellebecq makes the same point in his novel Submission. All 3 are right, even though they phrase it differently.

Go to Budapest. It’s a wonderful city where churches don’t get vandalized, Jews go to synagogue freely, and 2 gay men can walk down the street holding hands without fear. Any true liberal should be happy with that.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
15 days ago

If energy is such a “foreign policy weapon” for the U.S. then why are they seemingly doing much to rid themselves of being completely energy independent and begging the Saudi’s and Venezuela to produce more? Could they be that idiotic?

Terry M
Terry M
15 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Yes. SloJo is that idiotic, as are the rest of the Donkeys.

Michael Daniele
Michael Daniele
15 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Not sure if that’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is a resounding “yes”. The progressive left in the US is ideologically committed to completely stopping coal, oil and natural gas. The fact that there is no replacement is of no concern. Biden just parrots their agenda. During the campaign he said “I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you. I guarantee you. We’re going to end fossil fuel.” And his administration has used every possible lever (executive actions and increasing regulations) to do so.
There is an old saying in US politics that Democrats think Republicans are evil, and Republican think Democrats are stupid. I believe it’s worse than that, the progressive left is willfully ignorant and will push this agenda with no concern for the ensuing destruction.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
14 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Agreed. The foreign policy weapon on choice for America isn’t energy, it’s banking. We have weaponized our control of the world’s reserve currency since 2001 in ways that are undermining our own standing. Russia is simply doing the same thing with the tools at their disposal, natural gas and wheat.

Whether you’re starving people by refusing to sell them food, freezing them by refusing to sell gas, or bankrupting them by refusing them access to the money to buy anything… the effect is the same.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
14 days ago

“…running rings around…” the US is child’s play. Easy as falling off a log.
We’ve become the world’s village idiot.
Oy vey!

Steve White
Steve White
15 days ago

A new Gallup poll shows that only 1% of Americans mentioned Russia as a significant problem facing the U.S., down from 9% in March. So what’s real?

Last edited 15 days ago by Steve White
Terry M
Terry M
15 days ago
Reply to  Steve White

The Ukraine war has faded from the news here. Inflation and high priced gasoline have taken center stage, China is hot, with abortion in the wings along with transgender and other woke nonsense. Note that global warming occupies the lowest possible point as it always rightly has.

Jeanie K
Jeanie K
14 days ago

Does anyone else, posting on unherd, get the ignorant semi literate English statement “Awaiting for approval” every time a comment is posted?
as this one will

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
15 days ago

No comments on Orban?
Strange!