John McCain: “A nation that’s on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator”

Viktor Orbán must have had a rough couple of days. First came the bad news that Vladimir Putin had cancelled the Southern Stream project, and then yesterday John McCain, the Republican nominee for president in 2008 and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lashed out at him. In a speech delivered prior to the vote on Colleen Bell’s appointment to be the next U.S. ambassador to Hungary he gave a long list of objections to her appointment. The upshot was that McCain considers Hungary to be a strategically important country where a seasoned diplomat should head the mission instead of a political appointee.

Whoever collected information on Hungarian politics for McCain did a good job. Anyone who’s interested in knowing exactly what transpired can watch the video. The passage that caused outrage in Hungarian government circles came toward the end of McCain’s venting of his frustration:

We’re about to vote on a totally unqualified individual to be ambassador to a nation which is very important to our national security interest. Her qualifications are as a producer of the television soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful,” contributed $800,000 to Obama in the last election and bundled more than $2.1 million for President Obama’s reelection effort. I am not against political appointees. I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation that’s on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neofascist dictator getting in bed with Vladimir Putin and we’re going to send the producer of “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

Zoltán Kovács, undersecretary in charge of foreign communication, is usually the first to raise his voice. He announced that “Hungarian diplomacy will immediately get in touch with American senator John McCain,” but he added that from the text it is clear that McCain was not talking about the Hungarian prime minister but about Vladimir Putin. Kovács’s most likely intentional misreading of the text could not be maintained for long because several Hungarian newspapers and television stations got in touch with the communication director of Senator McCain, who affirmed that there was no mistake. The senator was indeed talking about Viktor Orbán.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade moved into action and called in M. André Goodfriend, the U.S. chargé d’affaires, to tell him, I assume, how wrong McCain was about Viktor Orbán. Considering that McCain is a Republican, I can’t quite see what Goodfriend as a representative of the Democratic Obama administration is supposed to do about McCain’s assessment of the Hungarian political situation.

And yesterday Péter Szijjártó announced that McCain must have based his opinion about the Hungarian prime minister on the antagonistic media because if he knew the real situation he would never call Orbán a neo-fascist dictator. The Hungarian response to any negative reaction to the Orbán government is always the same: The Hungarian citizens voted for this government three times this year and everybody should respect their decisions. Szijjártó also indicated that the Hungarian Embassy in Washington will get in touch with the staff of Senator McCain and will inquire about “the background of his statements” concerning the Hungarian prime minister.

Gergely Gulyás, a member of parliament and one of the deputy presidents of the assembly, was blunt. According to him, the “veteran senator for a short period of time lost his critical faculties.” Some pro-government journalists also used strong words. András Stump of Válasz called the 78-year-old senator “senile, ancient” (agg, vén) and not to be taken seriously. András Bencsik, editor-in-chief of the far-right Demokrata, called him an idiot. Another right-wing commentator again alluded to McCain as being incoherent during the session. But he did not stop there. He accused McCain of being far too friendly with Ukrainian Nazi politicians. And then he came to the crux of the matter: why is Hungary suddenly so important to the United States? Because of the United States’ interest in selling American shale gas to Europe. The Americans have become worried about Hungary being a middleman between Russia and Europe, which may result in their supplying all of Europe with Russian gas instead of their own. Otherwise, all the rest about democracy, about the illiberal state, about NGOs is of no interest to the United States. They are only excuses that mask the real intent.

John McCain in Budapest, January 2014 Despite the compulsory smiles McCain was not too happy even then

John McCain in Budapest, January 2014
Despite the compulsory smiles, McCain was not too happy even then

Of course, this story our man concocted is total nonsense, but what is really worrisome is that the official advisers to the Hungarian government, the great “political scientists” of Századvég, also seem to think along the same lines. Yesterday I cited some foreign policy experts who actually know their subject but who have been dropped from the ministries or, if they work in independent research institutes, are never consulted. On the other hand, we know that Századvég has allegedly supplied the government in the past four and a half years with thousands and thousands of pages of advice on domestic and foreign policy strategy with which, it seems, the Orbán government is completely satisfied. What kind of advice is supplied to the Hungarian government is well demonstrated by an article by Gábor G. Fodor, the strategic director of Századvég, which was published on December 1 in Napi Gazdaság, the paper owned by Századvég.

Very briefly summarized, the United States’ interest in Hungary and the East-Central European region is dictated by one consideration only: getting rid of the Russian monopoly over the gas supply in the region. All the attacks on Hungary in the last few months have served this purpose. The U.S. has a master plan: (1) Ukraine must fall into the sphere of American influence; (2) the United States wants to stop the building of the Southern Stream; and (3) the Americans intend to prevent the Russian purchase of the MOL shares in the Croatian oil company INA. The goal is “a total change of monopoly of gas supply in the region.” Hungary is at the center of this master plan and surely this is why Hungary suddenly became such an important country for the United States. Hence the attacks against the Orbán government.

Can you imagine what kind of Hungarian foreign policy can be based on G. Fodor’s “analysis”? I shudder to think.

I am not at all sure that Hungarian diplomacy in its present state can successfully navigate through the perilous sea Hungary managed to get itself into thanks to the brilliant strategy of Viktor Orbán. Until recently the Orbán government was certain that a Republican administration would have closer and warmer relations with them, but after McCain’s outburst they must realize that even if the Republicans win the next election Hungary will remain a pariah in Washington, unless some miracle happens in Budapest. Like Viktor Orbán vanishes from Hungarian politics. And that at the moment does not look likely.

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Nagy Pista
Guest

As much as I agree with Senator McCain on this – although neo-fascist is a bit of a senatorial theatrics, unfortunately he lost all credibility, and never will be forgiven by selecting “I can see Russia from my porch” Palin as his presidential running mate, therefore putting her a 70 plus years old melanoma survivor’s heartbeat’s away from the Presidency. If I was charge in the Hungarian government’s anti –McCain PR campaign, every time someone would ask me to comment on his remarks, all I would do is show Palin’s picture and would say no more.

No to mention that McCain at one time or another in his long political carrier wanted to bomb every single country in the Middle–East with the exception of Israel of course.

o'magyar
Guest

I have to come to the defense of Senator McCain. Good job, Mr. Senator.

I have got a much better opinion of Sarah Palin than Colleen Bell.

Go Senator McCain, save Hungary!

Troll no. 1000: Nagy Pista! In the FIDESZ darkness, Pista needs a new flashlight to see the right culprits right at the center of Budapest, in the FIDESZ rows.

Nagy Pista
Guest

@o’magyar

I think I said that I actually agree with the senator on this one, and not that it matters, but I do have a pretty low opinion of the “right culprits right at the center of Budapest” as well. And I do not disagree either that Colleen Bell is completely unqualified for the job – just as Sarah Palin was.
I just wish that the statement condemning Mr. Orbán and his actions came from someone’s else mouth’s that of senator McCain. Unfortunately just googling “stupid things McCain said” brings up an alarmingly long list of funny/scary “wisdom” of the senator.
It is the right message, but the wrong messenger.

Webber
Guest

Several years ago Orban called McCain a “real hero,” and the senator was recently the Hungarian government’s guest in Budapest. For a very long time now Fidesz people have thought Democrats=Socialists and Republicans=”our ally” Christian Democrats. That just shows how little they understand American politics, but still what a rude awakening for them.

Voice of reason
Guest

So Collen Bell has been appointed ambassador because she contributed $800,000 to Obama’s party. Nice to know that the US is still the bastion of freedom, transparency and anti corruption. The US is hardly qualified to lecture anyone on democracy or human rights.

I’m not a supporter of Fidesz by the way, but on this I’m right behind them. The US politicians should stop interfering. And calling Orban a fascist is just ridiculous. Sure he is autocratic etc. but calling him a fascist is ridiculous.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Voice of reason, probably Orbán is “only” autocratic and the boss of the “postcommunist maffiastate”. Probably Orbán and his ilk have only one aspiration: to get rich, even it means that millions of Hungarians get very poor.
In contradiction to some new Hungarian diplomats and the head of Hungarian Tax authority, who do not speak English Colleen Bell speaks English and will be capable to represent. [Touch of irony!]
Of course, there is a big difference between the USA and the postcommunist maffiastate. In order to be nominated to certain posts you have to be rich in the first place in the USA. In Hungary, you will be rich, if Orbán nominates you for a government job. Orbán and his family became very rich only during the time when he was prime minister the first time (1998-2002)
In the USA, the judiciary will persecute you if you are corrupt, in Hungary Orbán and his ilk will do the utmost for you if you are corrupt as long as you remain a loyal follower.

Webber
Guest
@Voice of Reason – Appointment of ambassadors because they have contributed to party funds is a very long American tradition that no state or senate has ever objected to. In American embassies the Ambassador is a political appointee who serves solely as a figurehead and as the “face” of the embassy – in a much lesser way, something like the relationship between the Queen and government in Britain, or like the President to government of Hungary. The real work in American embassies is done by people such as Mr. Goodfriend (who, I am delighted to note, will continue to work under Ambassador Bell). The system has worked for America and for Americans (which is the point) for quite some time now. It’s not a problem that you didn’t know this. It is a great problem if the Hungarian government was not aware of this basic fact of international diplomacy. However, judging from the Hungarian government’s delight with the appointment of Bell, I suppose it was aware of it. Finally, I should note the obvious – something the Hungarian government apparently does not understand: the new ambassador will be representing American foreign policy, which is set by the President (not by… Read more »
Webber
Guest

@Voice of Reason – The Hungarian government is appointing the self-styled “Count” Karolyi ambassador to Paris (self-styled, because Hungary does not recognize noble titles). Karolyi, who has never served in the foreign service anywhere, is one of Min. Lazar’s shooting partners (their little parties have killed thousands of pheasants and other game). He is a complete maverick in diplomacy. Karolyi was a businessman, raised in Paris. His sole claim to the post is an intimate knowledge of French culture and language, and a truly enviable knowledge of the proper use of cutlery (unparalleled in the Hungarian government).. I suppose he’ll do a fine job representing the Hungarian government in Paris. In any case, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt. It would behoove you to give Ambassador Bell a similar chance.

buddy
Guest

Sen. McCain took a brave stance in support of democracy in our country without any clear benefit to himself. Please send him a message on his Twitter feed showing that you publicly support him (as you can see, he’s not getting much support there):

http://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/status/540259773888081920

Consider it your civic duty for the day.

hutzul3
Guest

@voice of reason

The meaning of the term “fascist” really evolved (for example in Russia it has a very special meaning, a kind of insult, with which I won’t deal).

But also in Western Europe it is unfortunately intimately associated with anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, the WWII.

However one has to see what Orban did (“accomplished”) so far, what his structural and political objectives are (e.g. Orban actively promotes and uses clear corporatist structures, he is promoting nationalistic, ethnicist policies, opposes egalitarianism across various domains, crazy about traitors and foreign agents etc.). This is almost a text book definition of fascism.

It may be ridiculous, it may be politically incorrect, but this seems to be the case.

Murdering people, concentration camps are not necessarily features of fascism or national socialism (which is itself a form of fascism).

Moreover, McCain said “neo-fascist”.

Orban came up with a more modern, more adapted to the weak EU political structures, in a way gulash version of fascism, but the case is pretty clear if one is ready to face reality.

Grisa
Guest

OT

A good, not too long piece on the Russian media situation.

The Hungarian situation is a bit different (but also very similar) since most of the Fidesz media empire belongs to arch-oligarch Lajos Simicska who at present seems be challenging Orban’s power. That said, these challenges or disagreements are purely internal to Fidesz and the right wing as Simicska’s empire still diligently promotes the fundamental narratives put forward by the Fidesz media brain trust in a sophisticated, segmented way (e.g. anti-EU, anti-US narratives, coordinated character assassinations of opposition figures, using Kompromats against them etc.).

http://visegradinsight.eu/russias-growing-narrative03122014/

Guest

I really like hutzul’s definition and think that it describes what Fidesz and Orbán have established:

goulash fascism …

Thank you!

Member

Voice of reason:
Collecting donations for elections is NOT corruption by any measure! Campaign moneys and their spending is monitored very, very closely and unused funds are always returned to the donors.
Yes, the US methods of elections are transparent and yes there are political appointees to diplomatic posts.
As John McCain stated, the Republicans kept the 30/70 rule, political/professional appointees, but Obama raised it beyond the 50/50. Yet, behind every political appointee, there are professional State Department diplomats, who are making sure, that the US policy is carried out competently.
Not to compare, since Hungary is so far away from any reasonable and acceptable governmental systems, but the Hungarian ambassadorial appointees are ALL political appointments and few if any has a clue, what diplomacy is about. All of them are simply brown-nosing yes men and/or women.

Member
I keep posting the defining characteristics of fascism, for those, who did not read it yet. As we can see, the Fidesz/KDNP/Jobbik already completed 13 of the 14 items and now they are strengthening the army, to complete the 14th item. They achieving a perfect score in fascism, in that “Hungary Performs Better”. Fourteen Defining Characteristics Of Fascism By Dr. Lawrence Britt http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Dr. Lawrence Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each: 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The… Read more »
Max
Guest

This is a further major escalation in a rapidly deteriorating bilateral relationship. On the one hand Russia is collapsing financially, on the other the US says it can not work together with this prick.

This HU commentator also argues that without the resignation of the dear leader there is no chance for a diplomatic consolidation:

http://privatbankar.hu/makro/ez-volt-amerika-selyemzsinorja-a-magyar-miniszterelnoknek-275406

Nádas
Guest

Let’s not take John McCain – who, along with his idiotic vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, lost miserably against Obama in ’08 – too seriously on foreign policy. He’s not exactly a shining beacon of wisdom in that area.

Although dim bulb he may be, he’s certainly right about Colleen Bell.

Member
Nádas: Your subjective opinion about Sarah Palin and John McCain is NOT supported by the facts. Obama did not prove that he is a competent and good president. The last two intermediate elections proved, that the majority of the American people are NOT for the Democrats, based on their handling the economy and foreign policy. However, John McCain certainly voiced the opinion of both the Democrats and the Republicans about the neo-fascist Government of Hungary and the Viktor. Colleen Bell is NOT a professional diplomat, she is a political appointee, but behind her remains André Goodfriend and the entire State Department. Fear not, we have good diplomats and a fairly consistent policy to defend our interests. With a competent staff behind her, in diplomacy, the Viktor and Szijjártó (futsal) Peter is no match even for an amateur like Colleen Bell. —- Hungarian diplomacy is non-existent, the policy is based on economic interests, Hungary on the other hand, adopted a prostitution based foreign policy, selling herself to the highest bidder). The secret service, lead by Lázár is blind and deaf, proven by the fact, that Putin’s announcement about canceling the Southern Stream, only a short week after meeting with Szijjátró in… Read more »
Joe Simon
Guest

McCain is a hawk. The US would blacklist a country only when its business interests are threatened. Hungary should dismiss him outright.

Member

Joe Simon: Our business and political interest is clear, Hungary is, but a fly in the ointment. John McCain used a fly swatter, very well. We will use it more often from here on, just watch, because we have a big stick also, if the swatter is not sufficient.

Joe Simon: The relatively mild sanctions are successful even against Russia, if so, do you think that the Viktor and Szijjártó, (The Dynamic Duo) will be a successful in conquering and defeating the USA?

Member

An interesting discussion on the present state of the hungarian foreign policy. Specially the chunk about the demolition of the state departement is scary.

Member

https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain Please find McCain on Twitter and like his common regarding Hungary. (Thanks buddy.)

I do like McCain in general. I do not agree with every point of his, and I am certainly not a republican fan, but he is not a wacko. I love how Fidesz buddies attacking him now with everything that can be sad about Fidesz.

Fidesz tries to dismiss McCain, but is there any politician out there who supports Orban? There is almost not a single country left who wants to do anything with Hungary. Hungary, once again, under Orban became a pest. No, not the Hungarian people, not Hungary but Orban’s Hungary. Orban’s vision, his delusional politics, his buddies, his hand-outs to friends, his policies, his PR, his lies that allowed many Hungarians to feel that someone needs to “save them”.

Spillie
Guest

“Why is Hungary so important”Economicaly it’s not an strong performing country.In fact:a lot of talentful people leave the country to get a better life elswhere.A lot of people live in poorness.
I feel very sorry for them:they have a very difficult live.The opposition-already often said-is too divided to give them perspective.
The government is busy to enrich themself. and going in a wrong direction.
We need to be very grateful for the brave stance from senator McCain,for Kim Scheppele,for Eva Balogh and so many others(Mr.Goodfriend/Horváth András) that can waken-up the people to protest against corruption and so on.Slowly there is something changing:you need to be brave to protest;there is a lot of fear..
Hungary is important because there has started a tumor(in the body of the EU)and like in real live we start to fight against it,not let it metastaising.In all we do/think the tumor is central.
Our hope is it to eradicate it.All help/advice is useful.
About Colleen Bell:i think she will very well beprepared(Obama,say democrats and republicans think in the same direction).
Mr.Goodfriend will stay there:it will be a very strong team.Hope for the people of Hungay.

o'magyar
Guest

I am missing the comments of Mike Balint, but Dr, Gy. Bognar is equally excellent on the subjects.

Senator McCain and Thomas O. Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary, BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND LABOR should assist the best Hungarians in ending the rule of the Orban regime.

Karl Pfeifer must be mentioned, too, as he is contributing a solidly reliable opinion regularly.

This blog must keep the hope alive for a free Hungary.

Istvan
Guest

Gábor Fodor theory about the United States plan to control of the oil and gas markets in Central Europe demonstrates how subservient Hungary has become to the interests of Russia. It is true there are natural gas producers in the USA that want to radically expand our exports of liquified natural gas, there also consumer based groups here that oppose that.

Here is a link to the pro-export lobby
http://www.api.org/policy-and-issues/policy-items/lng-exports/~/media/Files/Policy/LNG-Exports/LNG-primer/Liquefied-Natural-Gas-Exports-highres.pdf

Here is a link that discusses a lobby group opposed to exports
http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/other-aea-pushes-to-limit-natgas-exports/

The reality is all of Europe would benefit from competition in the gas market, but there are real advantages for US consumers in driving down natural gas prices particularly in the northern areas of the USA where I live. What is very clear Századvég is not a think tank, it’s a pro-Orban propaganda tank. Any examination of Russian energy dominance over Hungary that does not see any benefit from competition is not objective.

We are having a debate here in the USA about the export of liquified natural gas, Hungary needs to have a similar debate about the dominance of Russia over Hungary’s energy market. That’s what happens in a democratic society.

berger
Guest
Let’s make some things clear. The USA cannot conceivably export gas to anywhere as it is still a net importer and even with an optimistic scenario this situation will not change before 2020. This is the fundamental issue. The lack of LNG terminals is an additional, though important problem. Moreover the recent shale boom was financed almost entirely via cheap (but junk rated) credit in the hope that prices will remain high. The industry’s reaction to lower levels remains to be seen. What the “US” (actually it is the private actors and not the US as such which will export or import anything) can do is to decrease its imports and thereby decrease its demand from international markets which in turn can affect gas prices. There is a somewhat similar process going on with respect to oil (shale/tight oil). The decrease of demand from the US (on the international markets) affects the price of oil, but the protracted problems in the EU, Japan, Brazil, etc. also help. Of course there’s elasticity, so with cheaper prices demand will have to increase which will act as a kind of leash on the prices. This is important because the price of oil often… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
Berger you are not correct, natural gas is right now being burned off fracking sites in North Dakota. My position on this issue is that we here in the USA should not export liquified natural gas, but rather utilize it more within the country including running more commercial trucks, buses, and other such things with it. The logistical issues you raise about the export market are correct, believe me the companies promoting export are highly aware of this. From what I know of the strategy it is too ship the gas by sea into the Baltic States initially, this could start rapidly according to industry sources. Here is a link to an article on how natural gas is being wasted in the USA: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/05/140522-gas-flaring-costs-taxpayers-in-us-report-says/ Lastly Senator McCain comes from a historic military family, his perspectives of foreign policy as it relates to Russia are consistent with my own and I think many retired military officers in the USA. I have attempted repeatedly to explain on this blog how those of us from the military culture see Hungary within the context of the struggle against Russian agression, primarily as a Trojan Horse for Putin. Senator McCain also I think would be… Read more »
Daniel
Guest

Everything said by Eva Balogh on OV is, sadly, true.
Unfortunately it is also true that America, and namely John McCain, never had a problem in propping up fascist bloodthirsty dictators, from Pinochet to Gualtieri, from Noriega to Stroessner. They funded liberally right wing guerrilla groups in order to destabilise countries in which US multinationals had more or less vested interests. Pity hundreds of thousands innocent people died in the process.
It is also true McCain supports nazi groups in Ucraine, seemingly oblivious of the blatant contradiction of calling Orban a fascist and openly supporting people who deny the Holocaust and are inspired by Hitler.
The day we Europeans can keep equal distance from US Imperialism and Russia’s equally destructive one, it might be too late…

Garmad
Guest
gardonista
Guest

The Democrats and Republicans have a very contentious relationship. I take one side of that debate quite passionately, but I hope we leave out Republican versus Democrat attacks on this blog. One of the few issues that most in the US can agree on is Hungary, whether you like Obama, McCain or Bell.

tappanch
Guest

New fideszization (= nationalization, followed by privatization to friends and family).

The Hungarian state will buy GE’s Budapest Bank. To be precise, the state-owned bank MFB will give the money to avoid raising the nominal national debt by the purchase.

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20141204_Bejelentettek_megvette_az_allam_a_Budapes
http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20141204_Miert_veszi_meg_kerulo_uton_az_allam_a_Bu

Csaba K. Zoltani
Guest
The attached letter was sent and acknowledged by the recipient: Dear Senator McCain, Your distinguished career both as an aviator and later as a senator, merits thanks from all of us, even from one who served during the time that you served. Understandably, it is difficult to find the right words for the myriad occasions that you are expected to speak, but you ought to employ a staff who familiarize themselves with the issues and do not hand you scripts that is a true reflection of left wing propaganda written by or strongly influenced by former members of the Communist government of Hungary. Victor Orban, the premier of Hungary, won three elections in a row, elections that were democratic and fair. Neither the EU, nor anyone else except the losers had any objections. Hungary is a member of NATO, the EU and nobody has come forward with verifiable proof that Mr. Orban is a dictator or has any fascistic tendencies in governing. If you know of any, please publicize it. Your statement today at the confirmation hearing that ” here we are, a nation [Hungary] that is on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator getting in… Read more »
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