Viktor Orban’s message to Europe

Viktor Orban

Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary, refuses to join in the proxy war and economic war against Russia.  He gave his reasons why in a speech last summer, which I’ve excerpted, because it sums up the situation so well.  

He is a contentious character, for reasons explained in the linked articles.  But I don’t see anything in this speech excerpt that isn’t true.

Western strategy in this war is based on four pillars.  It is a sensible strategy on paper, and perhaps even has numbers to back it up.  

The first was that Ukraine cannot win a war against Russia on its own, but it can do so with training from the Anglo-Saxons and with NATO weapons.  That was the first claim.

The second strategic claim was that sanctions would weaken Russia and destabilise the leadership in Moscow.

The third strategic element was that – although they would also affect us – we would be able to deal with the economic consequences of the sanctions, so that they would be hurt more and we would be hurt less.

And the fourth strategic consideration was that the world would line up behind us, because we were in the right.

As a result of this excellent strategy, however, today the situation is that we are sitting in a car with four flat tires.  

It is absolutely clear that the war cannot be won like this.  The Ukrainians will never win a war against Russia with American training and weapons.  This is simply because the Russian army has asymmetric superiority.

The second fact that we must face up to is that the sanctions are not destabilising Moscow.

The third is that Europe is in trouble: economic trouble, but also political trouble, with governments falling like dominoes.  Just since the outbreak of the war, the British, the Italian, the Bulgarian and the Estonian governments have fallen.  And autumn is still ahead of us.  The big price rise came in June, when energy prices doubled.  The effects of this on people’s lives, which are creating discontent, are only just beginning to arrive, and we have already lost four governments.

And finally, the world is not only not with us, it is demonstrably not with us.  Historically the Americans have had the ability to pick out what they identify as an evil empire and to call on the world to stand on the right side of history – a phrase which bothers us a little, as this is what the Communists always said.  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.

Most of the world is demonstrably not on that side: not the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, South Africa, the Arab world, nor Africa.  A large part of the world simply refuses to take part in this war, not because they believe that the West is on the wrong side, but because for them there is more to the world than this war, and they have their own problems that they are wrestling with and want to solve.

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.  That era is coming to an end and, as they say in the bombastic language of politics, a multipolar world order is now knocking on our door.

Hungary will be getting all the oil and gas it needs from Russia this winter, and even got an extra allocation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if other European Union members claimed a share of Hungary’s supplies, and imposed economic sanctions on Hungary if it didn’t comply.

The fact that Hungary is okay for now on its oil and gas supplies doesn’t mean it will escape the consequences of the coming recession.  But at least it has a leader with a sense of reality.  

My local newspaper carried an Associated Press article yesterday about Ursula van der Leyen, president of the European Commission, calling for a price cap on Russian natural gas and a “solidarity contribution” from oil and gas companies making extraordinary profits.  Otherwise, the AP wrote, the energy crisis “could lead to rolling blackouts, shuttered factories and a deep recession.”

So that’s the plan.  But the EU is not going to get price discounts from a government on which it is waging economic war.  And even if big corporations actually would altruistically gave back some of their profits, that will not increase the supply of oil and gas by a single molecule.  

LINKS

Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the 31st Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp on Juy 23, 2022.  Agree or disagree, this is impressive throughout.

Hungary and the Future of Europe by Christopher Caldwell for Claremont Review of Books. (2019)

A Letter From Viktor Orban’s New Nationalist Hungary by Susan Rubin Suleiman for Tablet magazine. (2018)

Under Viktor Orban’s leadership, Hungarians differ in views of democracy by Laura Clancy for Pew Research Center.

∞∞∞

EU Wranging Over Energy Plans That Amount to Band-Aid Over Gunshot Wound by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

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