by Aris Roussinos
Monday, 25
July 2022
News
15:17

Viktor Orban sees a ‘decade of dangers’ ahead

In a fracturing world, the Hungarian PM calls for a new Europe
by Aris Roussinos
Viktor Orban — gambling again? (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Saturday, Hungary’s recently-reelected leader Viktor Orban gave another of his showpiece speeches in neighbouring Transylvania, reviving what has become an annual tradition after a two-year Covid hiatus. While much of the foreign coverage naturally focussed on his emphatic rejection of both Western Europe’s racial heterogeneity and of Western sanctions against Russia, the most interesting part of the speech — its stark geopolitical content — has received far less attention. 

As Orban observed, “the general feeling is that the world is steadily deteriorating. The news, the tone of the news, is getting ever darker. And there is a kind of doomsday view of the future that is growing in strength.” Looking forward, “the decade that has now opened up before us is clearly going to be a decade of dangers, of uncertainty and wars… we have entered an age of dangers, and the pillars of Western civilisation, once thought unshakable, are cracking.”

American power is in steep decline, he observed, citing Africa and Asia’s refusal to take Ukraine’s side and boycott Russian energy: “This ability that the Americans used to have of getting everyone on the right side of the world and of history, and then the world obeying them, is something which has now disappeared.”

Indeed, he noted, “It may well be that this war will be the one that demonstrably puts an end to that form of Western ascendancy which has been able to employ various means to create world unity against certain actors on a particular chosen issue…. a multipolar world order is now knocking on our door.”

For Europe, unable to grasp the opportunities of a multipolar order and still dependent on the United States, the chance to shape these historic shifts in its favour is slipping away. “We Europeans have squandered our chance to influence events,” Orban claimed, by failing to enforce the 2014 Minsk peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine, so that now “the situation is like the one after the Second World War: Europe once again finds itself in a situation in which it will not have a say in its most important security issue, which will once again be decided by the Americans and the Russians.”

Citing slow progress on EU enlargement into the Balkans, and the inability to deal with Bosnian political dysfunction, Orban claimed that “the reason that Europe cannot become a world political player is that it cannot keep its own house in order… The aim should not be to become a world political player… but should be setting and achieving the modest goal of being able to settle foreign policy issues arising in its own backyard.”

What solutions does he offer? Boasting that “right now we are implementing major developments in our army and military industrial sector,” and are “diversifying our energy sources,” so that soon Hungary will be “the world’s third largest [electric] battery producer,” Orban observed that by 2030 Hungary will, along with the rest of Central Europe, be a net contributor to EU budgets, meaning that “this means that there will be new power dynamics: he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Setting out his stall for a rich and powerful Central Europe in an unstable multipolar world, in which America’s star is fading while that of the great Asian empires rises, Orban’s speech addressed the shifting tectonic plates of the global order head on. The opposite of a Western triumphalist, Orban conjured up a Spenglerian vision of a Western order in terminal decline. The continent’s most controversial leader is also now its longest-serving: if the great survivor is correct, the coming decade will see a poorer, weaker Europe struggle to survive the dawning age of empires.

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Adam McDermont
Adam McDermont
2 months ago

An electoral candidate with the same or similar views to Orban will stand a great chance of success in the UK. The values of traditionalism, cultural homogeneity, strong nuclear families, and standing up to the culturally-left EU are things that your typical ”red wall” voter may find very agreeable. Why are his views on racial heterogeneity supposed to be so bad? According to some, it would seem that any defence, no matter how peaceful, against one’s country being transformed beyond all recognition is aberrant. Those that set to dismantle traditional Europe are aberrant as far as I am concerned.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  Adam McDermont

That is bad enough. I am a fan of UnHerd but I happen to live in Hungary, enjoying the day-to-day blessings of conditions under the Orbán regime. In case you don’t know, as of this moment, Hungary is teetering at the edge of economic collapse caused by a decade of disastrous economic policies, covered up for a decade by the free money pouring in from the much maligned EU, and by the kleptocracy ruling my country. The kind of uncritical adoration for a populist thug of his ilk, who runs a veritable mafia state, which I often sense in UnHerd, especially in the comment section, sickens me and is a bitter disappointment. For one thing, Orbán’s speech was openly racist (“we will not be a mixed-race country”, he said at one point, fighting, as he does most of the time, a victorious battle against nonexistent or dreamed-up enemies, since only a fragment of Hungarians has ever seen a live immigrant, save for the owners of the Chinese restaurant or Kebab stand round the corner). Orbán’s other beloved fantasy is armies of NGOs sponsored by George Soros which he has crushed anyway or driven out of the country like he chased CEU to Vienna. What affects me more and makes me almost ashamed of being Hungarian these days is Orbán’s openly anti-Ukraine lies and shameless adoption of Moscow’s narrative. Indeed, the “great visionary” has by now been reduced to a open mouthpiece of Putinist propaganda, repeating his lies, and never even mentioning that Ukraine was actually attacked by Russia, the ambition of which is still to annex much of the country and turn the remaining part, if any, into a kind of Vichy. In Orbán’s re-telling this war is a rivalry “about energy markets between two energy-producing nations”, and it is of course, the West that did not take Moscow’s “security concerns” into account, and it wasn’t Putin who lied at every turn and to the last moment. In every other sense this was a tired and pretty desperate speech from a man much in the mould of Putin himself,

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Good to hear from an insider. I, too, have been somewhat concerned about the uncritical adulation that Mr Orban (along with other, usually right-wing, strongmen) gets here.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago

I think it is an enemy of my enemy thing. When the mainstream media hates someone I assume that they must be doing something right. Which is of course flawed logic – but that was certainly my initial reaction.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Greetings from Vienna! I’m also a bit shocked at the positive spin Orban gets here…from what the Hungarians I know have said, Hungary just isn’t a good place to be right now. A lawyer I know said he’d rather work as a waiter in Austria than continue as he is now in HU. It is a great shame. To me, Orban just seems yo be trying to “dance at all weddings at once”, cosying up to China, casually defending and assisting Putin…while soaking up all the benefits of EU membership. The guy somehow manages to be really smart and yet a complete tool. It will end badly and then it’s you Hungarians who will suffer even more.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I have a feeling the EU has finally made him out. And he got simply too annoying, vetoing or threatening to veto every move, like good old Gromyko used to. The new Mister Nyet. Vetoing the last batch of sanctions at the last moment only to save the assets in the West of Patriarch Kirill, Putin’s crony, the warmongering billionaire mafioso at the top of the Russian Orthodox Church. All of which, paradoxically,could easily be a tragedy for the people of this country. It is now pretty unlikely that Hungary will get the reconstruction funds it would be entitled to since its government has so far failed to present an at least seemingly more “corruption-proof” spending plan. Orbán is now totally alone. The “V4” has fallen apart, with his last allies, the Poles having abandoned him because they are not Russia-lovers, and have a healthy opposition too. And that money would be sorely missed. With inflation running amuck and the Hungarian Forint sliding down fast, we won’t have it easy. Add to that a huge hole in the middle of the budget, and the future ahead looks anything but bright.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

A lawyer I know said he’d rather work as a waiter in Austria than continue as he is now in HU.

A cheeky little question, if I may …

Which is he actually doing, working as a lawyer in Hungary or as a waiter in Austria?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Thanks for another Hungarian perspective. Perhaps you can explain why he gets regularly re-elected.
I too am disappointed at his cosy relationship with Putin but to what extent is this not a realistic policy in the light of Putin’s stranglehold on Hungary’s oil supply and distrust of the EU’s willingness to protect Hungary from the fallout. Just as Risto Ryti sent the letter to Ribbentrop to obtain help in Finland’s struggle against the Soviet Union despite being an Anglophile classic liberal and democrat might not Orban be protecting the countries economy knowing any help from the EU would carry significant conditions. Realpolitik. No doubt he wishes to avoid a Hungarian Draghi being imposed on the country. I am not, of course, suggesting Orban is anything like Ryti.

Anything more you can contribute would be welcome.

Is not Orban simply a right wing version of Sturgeon in Scotland who has used ethnic rivalry and political manipulation to cement her position.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

To answer you question, he gets “regularly re-elected” for several reasons. 1) the election system is rigged and unfair through and through. All legit, of course, owing to laws enacted by his 2/3 supermajority in Parliament. I won’t go into details on this but refer you to the extensive literature and especially the research of Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, the main authority on the Orbanista Hungarian “Fundamental Law” that we have for a constitution. Suffice it to say that less than some 45 per cent of all votes can get you a two-third parliamentary majority if you have a strong and loyal voting block of true believers and you are called Fidesz. Which of course means that consistently more Hungarians vote AGAINST Orbán (or stay away from the ballot box) than actually vote FOR him. 2) The thing is that Fidesz is more like a religion than a political organization and Orbán does have an uncanny sense of how his core constituency feels and thinks. Hence the ethno-nationalist or even racist outbreaks and thinly veiled but instantly deniable anti-Semitic double-entendre he emits from time to time.This is also the reason of the hints at Hungarian exceptionalism carefully inserted into his public speeches. 2) he has complete control over at least 70 per cent of the media–or, by a different count, over nearly 500 media outlets (including the “public” nationwide TV channel operated from taxpayer’s money), as opposed to about 30 independents, mainly on the internet, which may be leaning towards the opposition but can also be mercilessly critical of it. This means that a major part f the population gets nothing but government propaganda spewed out 24/7 by all these platforms. These people are constantly watching a different movie than the rest of the country’s citizens, and are much like the millions of Russians who simply will not believe that there is a war on in Ukraine, borne against the whole nation, including civilians Allow me not to go this time into the “geopolitical” nonsense he is speaking about, his absurd prophesying and his rantings about the decline of the West. This comes straight from Moscow. Pardon the long-windedness.

Selwyn Jones
Selwyn Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

These tired arguments were used against Lady Thatcher’s victories. Funnily enough they vanished from left wing throats when Blair won his elections on an even smaller turn-out…

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
1 month ago
Reply to  Selwyn Jones

Would you please point out specifically which of my “tired arguments” have anything to do with Lady Thatcher, one of the few postwar leaders I actually admire, or worse, are in opposition to her policies?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Not sure why you got negative votes. Thanks for the response. Most non-proportional voting systems elect governments on minority votes certainly when non-voters are taken into account and the Hungarian system seems to ensure the winning party has additional seats.

How has Orban obtained control of 70% of the media? In the UK the media reporting is to the left of the population even where it is ostensibly in the ownership of right of centre owners and the BBC is certainly no supporter of the government.

As I say at present I get the impression of a right of centre Sturgeon.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

I’m guessing Brussels had one of their top hacks pen this.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

You serious? Me a Brussels top hack? Wish I was, though. They’d probably pay me a lot better than than the money I make translating books.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

I feel your translation pain! I don’t translate books but translation in general is a bloomin’ tough gig…you definitely don’t get into it to become rich, that’s for sure.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You’re telling me.The job is not only tough but totally unappreciated.Thank you, Katherine.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Well, I appreciate translators, I wouldn’t have managed to finish my MA without them; so. thanks and good wishes from one person who has done a tiny bit of translating herself.

Alex A.
Alex A.
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

I’m going to have to one hundred percent agree. As an American who has lived in Hungary since 2000, has raised five kids here and is deeply pro-Hungarian in the sense of being attached to the country and its people and also being married to a Hungarian, I am appalled at what this thoroughly corrupt and autocratic regime has done to this incredibly talented land and its people. And as Janos certainly knows, young people are voting with their feet and abandoning their country in droves. Even the kids of the elite are being sent abroad to go to university and not returning–like the kids of the Russian elite always were as well while their parents plundered the homeland. The Fidez lot has also plundered Hungary and politicians who have only ever officially drawn government salaries have shamelessly built multimillion dollar mansions in the second and twelfth districts of Budapest while average Hungarians struggle to get through the month. The healthcare system is on the verge of collapse and your chances of finding a doctor under the age of 70 still working in the public sector is diminishing by the week. There is one area where Orban’s investments are paying off, however, and that’s in football–lots of new stadiums, some of them overshadowing hospitals where the walls are literally falling down and people are in hallways on stretchers in emergency rooms waiting hours to get their blunt force trauma injuries looked at–this last one is from direct personal experience. There are a lot of great things about Hungary but none of them that I can think of are due to Orban and his corrupt, lying regime.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex A.

I fear you are correct: it is only the EU that makes Orban look good ! Judged against any normal yardstick, we would be far more critical.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex A.

..all of which sounds eerily like the UK.. yikes!

A Fellow Commentator
A Fellow Commentator
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

I agree with the matter of corruption & authoritarianism on the part of Orban.

The truth is, however, that he wouldn’t have been celebrated without the EU and globally resourced NGO’s being deadset on enforcing limitless openness to diversity, both demographic & sexual. It is indeed a shame that it took a strongman substituting his own loyal institutions in media, academia and the judiciary in place of those which had become susceptible to the first stages of foreign-produced intersectionalism. Even Macron has bemoaned the “toxic American ideology”.

It would have been perfectly possible for this to have been done on a multilateral party basis; the Left working to keep democratic practices intact as the Right put forward those measures which reflected the sensibilities of most of Magyarország outside of Budapest.

You amend the Alaptörvény to recognize Magyarország as an ethnically-based country and its naturalization policy being a buttress to that, families being the offspring of men & women and legal marriage being a buttress to that, and congratulations! You’ve siphoned off the two small fuel tanks which could power demagoguery.

Facilitating the endless pleas of limitless minorities is not the basis of democracy or republicanism; it is maintaining a participatory and transparent state for the ethnos which constitutes the nation. Pushing forward with that instead, and aiming to eventually make challenge to it via regular democratic-republican procedure impossible, is how you get populist fervor willing to hand power to a strongman.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 months ago

He was a famous anti communist in the early 90s, when he started Fitesz, the a- c youth movement.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

thankyou Janos for the reality check. Shocking the way that lying has become the new norm for many of our so-called leaders. Good luck with maintaining a sane niche for yourself in Hungary……

Andras N
Andras N
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Honestly, who cares? He could be quoting Goebbels in German for all we know and get away with it. He has been called Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin since 1992, sometimes under the same breath, as you and I know. He runs a loathsome kleptocracy, I agree, I suffer from it too. So what is the counter offer? Draghi? Boris? The guy who runs Germany, whose name I forget? Orbán has buried his enemies at home, (SZDSZ-MSZP are mere footnotes in history books) and he has bigger ambitions than the rest of European politicians altogether. Soros and maybe that creepy WEF guy have stories of the future. Otherwise there is is no vision that shines through the constant quasi-religious scaremongering, melting glaciers, masking for ever and surely, the identity mania. Don’t count on him or Putin or Erdogan disappearing just yet.

Kathryn Dwyer
Kathryn Dwyer
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Very interesting to hear these viewpoints from a Hungarian. Facile populism is so appealing until the analysis starts!

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

The problem is that what he says is right.
As to his opponents, in the west we have for years we have watched the left infiltrate an then take over institutions from education and the media up to and including the highest court in the land.
We have also witnessed, in relation to Brexit and Trump how dishonest a hysterical the left get when they do get their own way. In the case Brexit they were prepared to severely damage the interests of their own country and in the case of Trump they set about burning the country down.
These are people who howl in outrage at Orban as they try everything they can to bring him down. To me that is the best endorsement he can have. Also, as I already said, he is right.

A. M.
A. M.
2 months ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

As far as economic collapse, you have just described all of EU south of Denmark. Even Germany is running into problems. The good news, is that Hungarian economy is clearly in good enough shape, to allow you to care about which slavic guy in a tracksuit rules Donbass.

Ibn Sina
Ibn Sina
1 month ago
Reply to  Janos Boris

Thanks for that insight. What I think we need to understand is why we are unable to find competent moderate politicians. My personal view is that it’s because of the emergence of politics as a career which people go into before they have life experience. While Western liberal politicians tie themselves in knots over gender issues and critical race theory, other people are getting on with reinforcing their dictatorships and making their people’s lives a misery.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael O'Donnell
Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

No wonder the fuss-pot bureaucrat rabble in Brussels fears this man. He lifts his head from the minutia of committee meetings, rules writing and other forms of time wasting and sees the future isn’t going be a walk on the beach.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
2 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

“We Europeans have squandered our chance to influence events,” 
True. But key to having greater influence is having a common European army.  Something that Orban – and Brexiters – of course firmly reject. In fact, the very idea brings on a fit of the vapours in them.
Make up your minds, folks – small-country nationalism (and, on a global stage ALL European countries are small ones), or serious influence? You can’t have both. 

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 months ago

Love him or loathe him, does anyone in British public life even know what the word ‘geopolitics’ means?
When our outgoing prime minister’s last pre-defenestration act was to tick Putin off for manspreading into the Donbas, and the candidates to succeed him are competing over who’d do the more indecent things to Thatcher’s exhumed corpse if given the opportunity, it’s hard not to envy the Hungarians.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

You seem to be reading different comments from me about Orban’s Hungary. Firstly, it is a tiny, declining nation (including in population). As has been pointed out elsewhere, the protestations of championing a conservative, homogenous and anti-liberal Europe might seem rather more bold and convincing if it were not for Hungary’s endless sucking of the EU teat, funded of course largely by those awful liberal Germans.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

I’ve read too many comments about geopolitics or realpolitik that have essentially been code for appeasement in regards to Putin. What would you define as geopolitics?

Peter Buchan
Peter Buchan
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

What a silly way to frame a supposedly serious question. Or was it even a question? You seem to ask only so you could embed your accusatory statement. Then again, perfectly in line with much of the shallow analysis and commentary on UnHerd. As the adage goes: a problem well framed is (more often than not) a problem half solved. But woe betide anyone attempting to frame the Ukraine – and many other issues – against reality. Read more Billy Bob, read more. And, judging by the lofty perch from which you and your ilk bullhorn your morality, it would serve well you well to spend just a little more time exposing yourself to opposing viewpoints. Before commenting here, I mean.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Buchan

I was doing no such thing, and your ultra defensive rambling suggests my question hit a nerve.
My point is valid, in that the only time I’ve heard those words used in regards to recent events is from those who were essentially telling the Ukrainians to surrender and give Putin what he wants, so I’m simply interested to know what the original poster was asking when they asked a question regarding geopolitics

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
2 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

A fair question. Thinking off the top of my head, an anti-Russian response to the war that was informed by an awareness of geopolitics might involve things like parking the ‘net zero’ target and turning the taps on north sea oil and gas, to minimise the knock-on effects to us of Europe basically running out of fuel and reduce the boost to Russia’s export balance caused by surging oil prices (of course, it might also benefit our export balance in the mean time…). Sort of like the Americans got the Saudis to do back in 2014, albeit on a smaller scale. You might also have spent the last few years being nicer to Turkey so they’re a bit more inclined to throw their weight decisively against Russia, or saying less about Yemen so the Saudis are a bit more willing to help out by opening the pumps.
A geopolitically naive response might involve expecting cutting off your own access to Russian oil to bring Russia to its knees within a few weeks, at a time when energy prices have already been surging for months and there’s plenty of other countries out there who’ll happily snap it up at a discount. If you’re working at a really advanced level of naivety like Germany, you might unilaterally cut yourself off from the cheap oil supplier that’s underwritten your entire economic model for decades, then tell your people to go and chop wood to make it through the winter.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Thanks for the well measured reply, and there’s not much there I disagree with. The naivety of many European countries in regards to Putins Russia has left them largely powerless to offer up any sort of economic resistance to his land grab in Ukraine

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago

Central European countries will become more influential within the EU…but the idea of them somehow wresting control of the EU off the traditional French-German-Italian triumvirate is laughable. This is Hungarian wishful thinking…probably aimed at those voters who still can’t get over the Treaty of Trianon.
And complaining about the EU not being able to really get anything done is a bit rich from the guy who has elevated truculence and blocking big decisions to an art form.

A. M.
A. M.
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I don`t think Orban claimed there would be any wrestling of control over EU.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago

Orban is right about the US being the military power in Europe, but hasn’t that been the case since 1945?

A Fellow Commentator
A Fellow Commentator
2 months ago

I’d say it’s precisely about questioning why this is still the case since 1992, and especially why it’s been the case since about 2014-15.

Truth be told, even though this would almost certainly violate non-proliferation, the USA should help convert NATO into a European Defense Force by offering Germany & Italy the opportunity to purchase the nuclear warheads, delivery vehicles and associated infrastructure which have been maintained on their soil as part of nuclear sharing. This would recognize the existing “triumvirate” (as someone else here wrote) by allowing them to join France as the core to any continental military.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

Why or earth would they want to proliferate nuclear weapons like this ? Aren’t there international laws about nuclear proliferation to consider here ? But I see you already noted that.
If the EU is serious about defence, it has the money and technology to do something about it. Their actions suggest the opposite. As the Americans have often noted. I simply do not see what the Americans are stopping to prevent the Europeans defend themselves better – in fact they are constantly asking us to do more.
So it’s a bit rich to be blaming the Yanks for providing a low cost defence umbrella for lazy Europeans who couldn’t be bothered to pay their own way.

A Fellow Commentator
A Fellow Commentator
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I certainly agree that the fundamental issue is Europeans having been erstwhile lazy at providing for their own defense. I do, however, think that the answer is not to better act as fuller supplements to an American umbrella, but to step out from underneath it.

Partitioning the security apparatuses sets up the possibility for European foreign policy differing from American foreign policy…in kind, not just degree. This will be a much more invigorating motivation than taking on more responsibility within NATO without being able to truly challenge the Pentagon’s big picture supremacy within it.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

No one can realistically challenge US military dominance today. And likely not for 15 years. It is a fantasy.
1) Check the aircraft carrier count
2) Count the international military bases
3) Check who has the most advanced technology
4) Check who’s military kit actually works today
5) Does anyone even come close to the worldwide reach and logisitics capability of the US ?
6) Does anyone have the intelligence capability of the US ? When will Europe get even close to “Five Eyes” (if ever) ?
No one else is even close.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

All of which is useless if your military is in the grip of Woke ideology. As for the great US intelligence, I refer you to WMDs and many other disasters over the years. It’s a giant fraud.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Nonsense.
The WMD issue was political manipulation of intelligence to create “evidence” [some obviously fake, even at the time] to support a stupid and arguably illegal decision which has already been taken.
The actual US intelligence capability is pretty good. It’s certainly helping Ukraine a lot. I’m in no doubt whatever that the US could locate and sink the entire Russian Black Sea fleet in 24 hours. If they chose to.
I suspect you have no actual insight into defence and security matters. I do have some. There are some really smart (and decent) people working to protect your security and very close US-UK cooperation. Whether you appreciate it or not.

Peter Buchan
Peter Buchan
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Sorry Peter, but that’s not how things work in reality.
There are fundamental differences between the capabilities of military models built for a) global power projection/dominance/hegemony and b) bona fide defence.
Russia’s military strategy and spending is overwhelmingly based on territorial defence using stand-off weapons and tactics, and nuclear as deterrent.
For interest, the Rand Corporation (tasked with gaming these sorts of issues for the Pentagon and US strat-leadership) has played out many potential full scale war scenarios – in Europe/Eurasia – between the parties and, time and time again, concluded that the US cannot win such a war. At least not as the aggressor. Don’t take my word for it, go check.
Regards
PS. Very few independent military strategists still believe carrier groups are of any serious military utility other than for making media headlines – and beating up on small indefensible countries. Modern drone and missile technology make a mockery of their defenses, which still largely date from the 70’s.

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter Buchan
Peter Buchan
Peter Buchan
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Peter; I don’t think the evidence supports the US supplying a “low cost defence umbrella”. Rather, the historical and current evidence – now exploding into full view – is that what the US offers is a (Fed-printed) annuity payment layer within a over-arching protection racket that treats the UK and Western European elites as enablers (the “revolving door political system”) and their citizens as de facto neo-feudal subjects. This is even alluded to in US doctrine, the real world evidence for this goes far beyond circumstantial, and it defies reasonable/cogent alternate explanation.
Here’s but one peripheral example, since you raised it: Regarding whether there is a Law about nuclear weapons – no, but there are in fact bi and multilateral treaties nested within over-arching UN frameworks. How ironic, then, that the nation offering your “low-cost defence umbrella” UNILATERALLY withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty with Russia in 2002, and then the Intermedia Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 2019. They blamed Russia (of course!) but no one in Europe held them to account or bothered to check – though many independent journalists and respected analysts did. They also pulled out of the JPCOA, again unilaterally. They’re also not a signatory to the UN chemical weapons convention. Not the ICC. Nor the UN Framework Convention on the Law of the Sea (but patrol the high seas to save us all, bless ’em).
Thanks to such sycophancy and popular delusion, US elites and corporation have been able to sow destruction and strip-mine developing economies across the globe with impunity. Stockholm syndrome abounds…

Last edited 2 months ago by Peter Buchan
Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

Spengler was wrong 100 years ago and he’s still wrong now. There is no reason to suppose “the West” to be in “terminal decline”. And the reason is simple: only the Western mindset and way of government is flexible enough to learn and adapt to changing circumstances. Only systems which are free of rigid political ideology and corruption and allow the timely removal of the corrupt and incompetent have any staying power.
Yes, the EU as currently run is in terminal decline. Of that, I have no doubt. But so is Russia. And I strongly suspect we have already passed “peak China” – an economy which increasingly looks like a house of cards.
Finally, if Viktor Orban’s claim that Hungary is world #3 in electric battery production is true, this cuts little ice with me. If so, it is due to foreign investment and technology and little that is home-grown in Hungary. Those factories can be put anywhere. What matters is mastery and ownership of the technology and the critical natural resources. I doubt that Hungary is troubling the scorers on either count (with or without Orban – it makes no difference).

A Fellow Commentator
A Fellow Commentator
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

If this is correct, then the flexible Western mindset will abandon the cult of diversity which is imperiling it, and strive to reverse its effects.

A sentence that stood to me in Orban’s excerpt here was the line about Europe (as a continent) contenting itself with managing it own region rather than involving itself in global affairs. How far have we fallen? The days of individual European nations governing planet-spanning empires are within living memory.

The sick mutation of Enlightenment values into a cult of guilt and atonement by disempowerment has resulted in the voluntary release and emergence of competing of competing power blocs on the world stage. As Aris noted, perhaps it is now with the extra-Western world sitting out of a grand coalition against Russia & China that those with ethnophobic self-contempt see the true returns of postwar self-mutilation.

The United States has lost its mandate as the core of the West. Europe must stand out from under it.

Peter B
Peter B
2 months ago

I believe the current madness in Western countries (which I do not dispute – it’s lunacy) is a passing phase which will die back. It’s so obviously crazy that it cannot last.
My own view is that this is the sort of crazy thinking and behaviour that surfaces when a country or society has had it too easy for too long. People are drowning in their own sense of entitlement (mainly the ones who bang on about “entitlement”).
There’s nothing here that a good recession or short period of hardship cannot fix. People will then refocus on real problems. Rather than – for example – arguing about the “right” number of ethnic minority footballers in the England women’s football team.
The US will continue to lead the West. Europe is is terminal demographic, technological and economic decline and unwilling to do what is needed to address this.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Sorry, but I suspect you are wrong. The West has had a good few hundred years but I think it might be over. The fact is that western societies are now built on more lunatic beliefs and structures than your average religion or the Soviet Union
Moreover, the West has failed to spread its beliefs and structures as was expected to happen with ‘the end of history’ and is now home to millions upon millions of people who are actively opposed to everything the West is supposed to stand for.
And there is another problem. As we saw during Covid, many western countries – or at least those who govern them – no longer stand for western principles of freedom anyway. Chief among these countries are Canada, the US, New Zealand and Australia. This incipient authoritarianism, sometimes bordering on tyranny, now goes beyond Covid.
It’s not looking good.

A. M.
A. M.
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I fear flexible Western mindset & form of government is a relatively recent invention, that hasn`t yet proven itself in the test of time. We can only speculate, whether it is in fact viable long-term or just a fluke of history.

A. M.
A. M.
2 months ago

I liked how Orban noted the size and relevance of Hungary in his speech. It`s just not large enough to be influental and secure. The power rests with the EU behemoths like Germany and France.

Janos Boris
Janos Boris
2 months ago
Reply to  A. M.

Orban declared that both of these countries are in serious decline because of their being “mixed-race” and nothing but a bunch of “gender maniacs”. He also prophesied that Hungary will be a net funding nation of the EU by 2030 and have a commanding position, which is totally absurd, given the fact that during Orbán’s reign all, repeat all, post-communist EU countries (with the exception of Bulgaria) left us behind in economic development, and that Hungary has a huge budget deficit and a lot of debt, whereas the influx of EU money is in the process of drying up.

John Hughes
John Hughes
2 months ago

Aside from Ukraine I have a fair amount of time for Orban, and he’s right more often than not. In this case I think he’s half right.
China and India both have more than their fair share of problems that will prevent them from becoming the global empires Xi and Modi would wish them to be and Africa’s refusal to get involved probably stems more from their fear of Famine should Russia refuse to sell them grain.
I do however believe that the post war liberal settlement is on its knees, and the coming decade will see Orban become the norm rather than the exception across the continent. Much of central Asia will hover around the middle income trap, Africa will still be quite poor and the world is likely to return to a more refined version of pre-age of sail as movement is constricted although this time not so much between countries as intra-continental

Frank O'Connor
Frank O'Connor
2 months ago

Victor Urban is right in saying the days of unipolar rule by the warmongers of NATO led by the regime in Washington are over. The world is moving on to multipolar rule and the sooner the better. The EU is now controlled by Washington and will collapse eventually.

rob monks
rob monks
1 month ago

another good piece.