Hungarian mission in the fight against ISIS: Fidesz needed the help of the opposition

This morning the Hungarian parliament approved the country’s participation in the international effort against ISIS forces in northern Iraq and Syria. But before I break down today’s vote, I must go back a bit to set the stage.

In 2014 Viktor Orbán made some fleeting remarks about Hungary’s joining forces with other nations in fighting terrorism, a decision that requires a two-thirds majority vote in parliament. At that point, I’m sure, the Fidesz leadership never imagined that its candidate might be defeated in the Veszprém by-election. But the government had something else to worry about. Apparently at this juncture not all members of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation were ready to back the proposal, which the government deemed necessary for bettering U.S.-Hungarian relations.

With the Veszprém election in February Fidesz’s two-thirds majority evaporated. Even if the leaders of the two government parties managed to convince all of their parliamentary members to vote for the proposal, without support from the opposition it would have gone down in defeat. The numbers were simply not there. It was at this point that Viktor Orbán called together the opposition parties to convince them to support the government on this issue.

A few days later, in early March, the press department of the Demokratikus Koalicíó (DK) announced that their members in parliament (four in all) would most likely support the government and thus secure the necessary two-thirds majority. The party spokesman explained that although DK is deeply opposed to the present government, they consider “ISIS a threat to Europe and our western democratic world. To stand against such a threat is our basic human and moral obligation. We cannot watch idly the destruction and mass murders” committed by the ISIS rebels. DK also announced, however, that the party would not send a representative to discuss the details of the mission with Viktor Orbán and Péter Szijjártó because “of their strenuous opposition to the political system of Orbán.” The only thing they insisted on was being well informed on the preparedness of the Hungarian military for the task.

The other opposition parties did meet with the prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs and trade, but unlike DK they were less than sanguine about the mission, a force of 150 Hungarian men to defend army bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. LMP said that its five-member parliamentary delegation would vote against such a proposal. András Schiffer, the party’s co-chairman, explained that ever since 2010 LMP had never supported the military participation of Hungarian troops in foreign missions unless the country was compelled to do so by international treaties. Since Hungary’s NATO membership does not demand that the country take part in this particular mission, LMP would vote against the bill. In fact, Schiffer said that he, as the leader of the group, would insist on party discipline and hence a compulsory “nay” vote.

Erbil. This is where the Hungarians troops going

Erbil. This is where the Hungarians troops are going

Jobbik also strenuously objected. The only support the party could imagine giving to anti-ISIS forces was humanitarian aid. Márton Gyöngyösi, Jobbik’s foreign policy expert, wouldn’t even agree to supply weapons and ammunition to those fighting this terrorist group. I might add here that, already in August 2014, Hungary sent weapons to the Peshmerga forces. According to Gyöngyösi, “although Jobbik condemns the violence against Christians and non-extremist Muslims, the size and preparedness of the country are not sufficient for undertaking such a mission which, in addition, would increase the threat of terrorism against our homeland.” Moreover, the United States shouldn’t try to rely on its allies when “it is the United States that is responsible for the destabilization of Iraq and Syria.”

MSZP as usual sat on the fence. First they wanted to know whether the other parliamentary delegations would support the mission. They also wanted to ascertain before deciding whether the Fidesz and KDNP delegations’ vote would be unanimous. Their final word was that they would discuss the matter informally.

If I recall, DK’s offer was initially received with ridicule in the pro-government media. What can the government do with four extra votes? The group is too small to make a difference. But today, when the Fidesz-KDNP delegation is short two votes, four votes from opposition politicians make a big difference. And, in the end, DK members were not the only ones who supported the government.

This morning in parliament the bill passed by a vote of 137 to 57. So, 194 members of parliament were present out of 199. Viktor Orbán was absent because he had some urgent business in Zalaegerszeg. The Jobbik parliamentary delegation voted against the mission to a man. The MSZP vote was mixed. Two members, István Hiller and Ágnes Kunhalmi, most likely flouting party discipline, simply didn’t vote, thus expressing their disagreement with the final MSZP decision. Apparently a huge debate preceded the actual voting, where many argued that voting with Jobbik on this issue might not do much for MSZP’s image, but at the end the leadership decided “not to assist Viktor Orbán in his peacock dance.” They believe that Orbán’s sudden interest in the ISIS mission is only a cheap tool for improving U.S.-Hungarian relations, while the government continues to paper over other outstanding issues like the still pending corruption cases under U.S. scrutiny.

As expected, all five members of the LMP caucus voted against the bill. In addition, the sole parliamentary member of PM, Tímea Szabó, joined Jobbik, MSZP, and LMP and cast her vote against sending the mission to Iraq. That vote was also somewhat anticipated. After all, PM came into existence after their members deserted Schiffer’s LMP. Finally, Péter Kónya, an independent member but previously chairman of Solidarity, also was among the nays.

So, who were the people from the Hungarian democratic opposition who voted for the bill? All four members of DK–Ferenc Gyurcsány, Lajos Oláh, Ágnes Vadai, and László Varju; Zsuzsanna Szelényi and Szabolcs Szabó from Együtt; Gábor Fodor, founder of the Magyar Liberális Párt; and Zoltán Kész, the newly elected independent member of parliament representing Veszprém County’s #1 electoral district.

I’m fairly certain that the majority of Hungarians are against sending soldiers to Iraq, so it took a certain amount of courage on the part of the smaller democratic parties to vote with Fidesz. Yet they took the risk. Ágnes Vadai, in the name of DK, stressed the party’s commitment to “the trans-atlantic alliance, European values, and universal human rights.” Zsuzsanna Szelényi, on behalf of Együtt, said that “Hungary must be present in the world.” Fodor also emphasized the necessity of good relations between Hungary and the United States.

As for István Hiller and Ágnes Kunhalmi, I wasn’t surprised that they were the ones who just couldn’t vote against the mission. They are members of the so-called social-democratic platform of the party, which I consider the most progressive wing of MSZP. It will be worth keeping an eye on them to see whether they can help shape the future of MSZP and its relations with the other smaller democratic parties.

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Rob
Guest
“If I recall, DK’s offer was initially received with ridicule in the pro-government media. What can the government do with four extra votes?” You recalled incorrectly in this case. There were some questions about another opposition party, called Egyutt. Since they only have two members in the house “so if one of them goes to the bathroom the vote will fail” – was the ironic comment made. It was describing the fact that Egyutt alone cannot be relied on to get it passed. DK has four votes which is enough to reliable pass any two-thirds vote. And the level of cooperation between Fidesz and DK was surprisingly high anyway they negotiated in a civil manner with each other. It was surprising. By the way, who do you refer to as “pro-government media” these days. The Simicska media (Hirtv, Magyar Nemzet and others), which used to support Fidesz now supported Jobbik already in the Tapolca election. Simicska who declared “total war on Fidesz” is well on his way to turn the whole thing into Jobbik supporter media. He can’t do it too fast of course but he will do it for sure. Already one of his main guys became the editor… Read more »
Member
Most Hungarians don’t have a strong moral fiber, they are being robbed blind and still vote for the robbers, or nazi fascist, hoping they do something. Solidarity is weak even within the country, let alone solidarity with anyone else. The Hungarian society had completely fallen apart, under the stress by the Fidesz dictatorship, it is in the a morass, buried in moral and financial corruption and a lot of people are self absorbed, selfish, full with self-pity. Most Hungarians don’t care about ISIS, as long as it is farther away than Romania, it doesn’t bother them and they don’t want to sacrifice anything for anyone else. Therefore I am sure if a poll would be conducted, the majority of the people would oppose to send Hungarian soldiers to fight anywhere, not only against ISIS. The present generation of Hungarians are not like the previous generations. Most people today don’t even fight for themselves, they want someone else do it for them. Even Hungarians refer to their country as; HUNGARY IS A COUNTRY WITHOUT RECOURSE. It is not the people’s fault, it is how they have been raised for decades. Huge crimes are committed by businessmen and the Government, yet nobody… Read more »
petofi
Guest

“The Hungarian society had completely fallen apart…”—Correct.

“under the stress by the Fidesz dictatorship…”—Wrong!

Why do most commenters on this blog give the Hungarian people/society a free pass? The ethical/moral problem of the society has festered for a long time. Can’t people just admit that there are serious problems within the society that needs urgent corrective measures?

For instance, the people are regularly gifted with heavy doses of anti-semitism (regardless of how surreptitiously it’s done) and that appears to salve the pains of whatever thievery that Orban/Szijjarto/Matolcsy are engaged in.

Guest
@petofi April 14, 2015 at 10:44 pm Right on, Petofi! The political leadership of a nation is just a symptom, not the cause. Hungarian society is sick and retarded, and has been sick and retarded for a long, long time, long before Orbán, long before Kádár, long before Rákosi, long before Szállasi, and long before Horthy. The root causes are the baleful influence of the Churches on the Christian intelligentsia, the “brains” of the nation, who then indoctrinate everyone else in society with their sick and retarded ideologies and mythologies. The self-image and self-esteem of Hungary and Hungarians desperately depends on self-serving self-generated nineteenth century myths (cf. speeches of Orbán, etc. etc.) In other words, their historical concept of themselves is embedded in a mesh of many, many untruths, or lies, pious or otherwise, if we wish to call a spade a bloody shovel. Hungarians have shown themselves to be utterly unable to compete with others in open competition (cf. Jews). Instead, they prefer to resort to crude discrimination (cf. Jew Laws), and to downright looting and thievery, whether of Jewish property in the nineteen forties, middle class property in the nineteen fifties or national assets in the nineteen nineties.… Read more »
István
Guest
As I have stated before I believe that Hungary’s commitment of troops to oppose the Islamic State is a positive development. One of the areas these troops will be protecting will be MOL oil production facilities near Ebril Kurdanistan. There was a reasonably good article on the importance of that oil production in the New Yorker last year see http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/oil-erbil Gulf Keystone Petroleum, a British company, and MOL are partners in this project and they are producing oil from wells in the Shaikan development in the Kurdish north of Iraq along with natural gas. As of Dec. 29, the companies said production was around 40,000 barrels of oil per day, with a record number of 354 trucks crossing the Turkish border with a combined 58,000 barrels of Shaikan crude oil for export sale. MOL has been in the region since 2009 and currently has at least 700 million U.S. Invested in the region and is expected to invest up to $2.2 billion see http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2015/01/05/Milestone-for-Kurdish-oil-companies-announce/9891420455820/ There is more involved here than just making nice with Eva’s and my government, there is money to be made. The Jobbik are such fools they can’t even figure out when Hungary actually has a strategic… Read more »
petofi
Guest

150 troops–peacock dancing at its most mock-laden.
The only action the Hungarians will see will be at the Commissary windows. And for that, they will stridently claim a ‘heroic stance for the little country that could…’–quite stomach turning, to be sure.

Webber
Guest

The small contingent of Hungarian soldiers will have no effect on the outcome in Iraq. But if a single Hungarian soldier dies in this mission, Jobbik will get a surge in support. I am very sorry some of the opposition voted for this. I see their vote not as “brave”, but foolhardy.

HiBoM
Guest

Webber, are you arguing that political expediency should take precedence over what is the right thing to do? That is surely the Hungarian disease in a nut shell.

Webber
Guest

No. You missed my point altogether. I am arguing that Hungarian troops will not make one whit of difference to the campaign in Iraq. Therefore, there is nothing to be gained by sending them. There is, however, quite a lot to be lost domestically.
Don’t fall for Fidesz-propaganda (“the right thing to do”). Hungarian troops will contribute nothing whatsoever to stabilization of Iraq or the defeat of ISIS. Of that you can be sure. I would be willing to bet that the Pentagon couldn’t care less about these Hungarian troops – indeed, I’d bet there’s a study in the Pentagon about how many American troops could potentially be tied down protecting these Hungarians (who will be doing what, precisely?). I certainly don’t see a lot of excitement in the American press about the “great contribution” that will be made by Hungarian troops.
As to MOL’s “interest” (referred to by others, above) – sending American soldiers to die for an American corporation would not be terribly popular among the American public, either, to put it mildly.

István
Guest

We have been sending US troops into danger for commerical interests since the early 1800s when we invaded the Middle East in the Barbary Wars. The support of the U.S. people for such wars depends on the hysteria built up over them.

Webber
Guest

It depends on the American public not perceiving commercial interests.
There is no hysteria in Hungary for sending troops to Iraq.

István
Guest

There is some level of concern among Catholic voters in Hungary especially since the Pope has adopted a harder line against the Islamic State. Economic reasons for war are always hidden from public view, I would suggest very few Hungarians are aware of MOL’s economic interests in Erbril. None the less it’s true.

I would suggest Hungarians are far better off fighting to protect the Kurds and their oil of which MOL is going to make money on than supporting Putin to keep gas lines filled. The world is not a pretty place and peace is only an interval between wars from my perspective.

petofi
Guest

Totally toxic, KGB-inspired, propaganda.
Yes, there is an element of commercial interests but it is not nearly as great as it’s made out to be. I remember when Nato/US bombs rained down on Serbia and Kosovo and the anti-American voices shouted about the American need for ‘new markets’, and the like nonsense. Or, that the US fought two wars in Iraq for the oil.
Ridiculous.

Webber
Guest

Petofi – you’re right. But it’s impossible to convince some people that materialism isn’t at the base of all government actions. I know some otherwise rational Hungarians who actually like the US, but who can’t figure out why the US and other NATO countries bombed Serbia in 1999. They can’t believe there were no commercial interests involved, and are still looking for them after all these years.

buddy
Guest

I’m convinced that Y2K fears played a part of the rationale in that war. Remember that no one really knew what would happen to computer-based systems on Jan 1, 2000 – would they keep working as usual, work irregularly, or stop working altogether? No one knew for sure if the device hadn’t been patched, and with weapons systems, those fears become much more pronounced. Weapons are meant to be used anyway (not decommissioned), so if you have to get rid of them you might as well use them against a jerk like Milosevic.

After the war, a Serbian friend told me he thought the Americans were idiots because during the war they kept bombing the same dummy target site in his area over and over. But when he told me that, I became even more convinced that the purpose of the war (at least in part) was more to get rid of these weapons than use them in a militarily effective way.

Istvan
Guest

Petofi its called the real world, and the economic motivation for wars the USA and other nations have fought now for many years are regularly taught at the US Military Academy at West Point. There are also other reasons for war including specific territorial issues, ethnic strife, etc. but economics and raw materials have often been great motivators of war. There is an extensive historical school of thought which sees the US Civil War as being largely driven not by the morality of slavery, but rather by the economics of slave vs free labor and the evolution of capitalism within the US.

Petofi there is a course at West Point: HI:372 History of American Foreign Relations that discusses in depth issues like the intersection of foreign policy, economics, and war. Are COL Gregory Daddis and CPT Erik M. Davis from West Point who helped design this class for the future officers of the US Army presenting KGB propaganda? Come back to earth Petofi, please.

HiBoM
Guest

They may not make a “whit of difference” but at least it is an act of solidarity. If you think the fight against ISIS is wrong, that is an entirely defensible point of view. But if you think it is right, and therefore to Hungary and Europe’s benefit, advocating non-participation however symbolic is putting the country into the role of a parasite.

Webber
Guest
No – that is false logic. Solidarity means diddly. What can Hungarian troops contribute? I suppose not much more than a logistics headache. An analogy: If we are collectively building a wall, and I have emphysema, a bad back, and know nothing about mixing mortar or laying bricks, I will not help at all by trying to pitch in. My “job” will be to keep away from the work area and let those who can contribute meaningfully carry on with the task. I will not be a “parasite,” and nobody normal would view me as one. Looking at the situation from a purely American point of view, the dangers of the (possible) strengthening of pro-Russian Jobbik far outweigh any potential contribution a few Hungarian soldiers might make in Iraq. And then there are the other strategic issues. If Hungarian troops are pinned down, who is going to rescue them? At what cost? (we both know the answer – Americans, and at great cost). What will the effect be in Iraq? Like the Viet Cong in its time, ISIS could actually garner support from this, because ordinary, patriotic Iraqis may not be terribly pleased to see more foreign troops in their… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest

+1, Sometimes even Fidesz does the right thing and when they do to slam them is just childish. The Hungarian contribution maybe small but I wouldn’t count it as unimportant.

PetroPedro
Guest
Együtt, Fodor, DK voted for it because they want to blindly suck up to the West as usual. They are extremely conformists. So if this could look like a small gesture towards the US they would do so happily. They can’t wait to serve the West. Fidesz cares about its voters foremost and in extreme cases (like this one) it makes some minimal gestures which it hopes it can sell as an act of goodwill as part of the reset with the US. But Együtt, Fodor always felt that their constituency was in Brussels, Berlin or DC. No wonder the left-wing is in a hopeless rut, the voters are here in Hungary. They decide. Alas this is too complicated for the left to comprehend. I have to agree with Webber: no potential gains can be had politically, but the risks are real. One killed soldier if well publicized by the media-savvy ISIS and Jobbik grows further. My hunch is that this was pushed by MOL and some of MOL’s advisors around the government. Btw Hungary opened a consulate in Erbil and there is a push to increase presence there, also because there’s is serious legal uncertainty with Iraq as to… Read more »
Max
Guest

I think Rob has a point concerning the Simicska media empire’s new course. During the heat of the Tapolca campaign, Magyar Nemzet granted a full-page interview to Vona where he announced his political shift to the center, moderated his anti-EU message and condemned anti-semitic views

http://hungarianfreepress.com/2015/03/29/jobbiks-gabor-vona-made-to-look-prime-ministerial-in-magyar-nemzet-interview/

pelion
Guest

Don’t you worry about the Liget Museum project and thus correspondingly about the Castle District projects — both are absolutely on.

Orban decided to move to the Palace and he will do so.

Only a wussy leftist would retreat because “there’s no money”.

There’s always, I repeat always money for symbolic and personal projects.

Since the leftists have no symbolic strategy whatsoever or vision, they can’t imagine how this works.

http://www.eco.hu/hir/modositani-kell-a-koltsegvetest-az-erste-a-liget-projekt-es-a-bkv-miatt/

Webber
Guest

According to the government’s latest announcement, 700 bn. forints in support has been suspended by the EU (news below). Of course the govt. blames Gyurcsany. I have no doubt they are lying about other things as well, such as, perhaps, precisely why the EU suspended the funds, and the amount involved. The EU will give us the details in due time, and again we will learn how the government has lied.
The Museum and Castle District projects may well end up like Gyurcsany’s new Government Quarter project, or the World Fair – just another silly idea dropped for lack of funds.
http://index.hu/gazdasag/2015/04/15/fejlesztespolitikai_unios_forrasok_felfuggesztese/

nag
Guest

I don’t think so. The Museum-Palace projects have nothing to do with any rational considerations, other than stealing money of course.

They are about Orban’s old (in a sense childhood) dream. Remember than in 2001 Orban ordered the renovation of the Sandor-palace where he wanted to move after the 2002 elections.

Orban does not give up such dreams. if he wants to move to the Palace then he will. Money considerations, budgetary issues are a “communist” (foreign, Western) plot to prevent him from fulfilling his mission and thus he must ignore them lest he looks weak in his own eyes, but that would be unbearable.

Orban wants to enjoy, receive enjoyment from the feeling of looking down on Budapest, Hungary — his personal domain.

This is what drives him. Don’t underestimate crazy people’s desires.

Webber
Guest

I thought the World Fair and new Government quarter were crazy ideas, too. They failed, for lack of money (really – govt. can’t maintain the museums and infrastructure it has, building new stuff is mad). Fidesz’s great projects may soon fail for the same reason. We’ll end up with a bunch of empty stadiums, nothing more.
The Finance Minister has just admitted that the EU does not believe the government’s figures. The noose of truth tightens slowly through the web of lies, but there is no escaping it:
http://index.hu/gazdasag/2015/04/15/brusszel_egyelore_nem_hisz_a_kormanynak/

Polyester
Guest

If András Bencsik has problems with Orban and Fidesz than Fidesz is indeed in a huge trouble. I wonder when Zsolt Bayer will start to panic.

http://cink.hu/bencsik-andras-a-lehetetlenul-szuk-nadragokban-latja-a-1697922548

Webber
Guest

Bayer, too, has problems with the direction Fidesz has taken and says “jobbik has a bigger soul” than Fidesz at the moment. Panic is palpable – rats leaving the ship
http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20150415-bayer-zsolt-habony-arpadot-kritizalhatta-cikkeben.html

Guest

Re Niemöller’s “poem”:

That was written from his own experience!
He was sympathetic with the Nazis’ ideas originally, he only later realised what was going to happen when it was almost too late – for him personally!
He was sent to a KZ (stayed there from 1937 until 1945!) and survived only because of intervention from abroad.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Niem%C3%B6ller
Only after WW2 did he become an outspoken pacifist.

So in a way his “conversion” was too late – let’s hope that the political situation in Hungary doesn’t evolve similarly to Nazi times where the Nazi government also was preceded by the right wing/conservative governments of chancellors Brüning and von Papen.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_von_Papen

Webber
Guest

Hungary is breaking Russian sanctions by exporting goods via Serbia and Macedonia:
http://index.hu/gazdasag/2015/04/15/szerbia_menti_meg_a_magyar_cegeket_az_orosz_embargotol/

vajaskenyer
Guest

I hope nobody seriously thought that Hungarian companies gave a sh*t about EU sanctions. Sanctions. Right. Seriously, I have to laugh at this.

This is Hungary and it’s Orban (and increasingly Gabor Vona) who tells Hungarians what to do and not some Brussels bureaucrat.

Whoaaaa, sanctions, shit, it’s over, we’re finished, we can’t do a thing, because it says on a paper, let’s spell, s a n c t i on s. Muhahahha, yes, we will comply, sure, we will, of course.

If Hungarian companies want to export to our Russian friends than they will, there is always a way. Megoldjuk okosba’.

Webber
Guest

The sanctions being broken in this case are the Russian ones imposed on the EU – Russian bans on importing food from the EU.

Tyrker
Guest

vajaskenyer

Hungary has not broken any EU sanctions.
She is breaking some of the counter-sanctions imposed by Russia.

Guest
re: “The bottom line is that the quality of policy, politics and politicians is a function of the quality of society as a whole, and that what the politicians say and do merely reflect the value system in terms of which the whole of society operates” You know when I see a fellow spitting into shoes by the Danube one sure can get an idea of the society one is seeing. Previously the hate was hidden and slinking in little dark corners or when it came out it was done slyly and with quiet derision.. Today well it’s overt, all out in the open, in the face. No question there on the position!. It’s apparently a new day for letting feelings show. Things is this isn’t occurring just in Hungary but all over Europe. A virus seems to going around. So how did it get to that? And why is it countenanced? Something got unmoored somewhere along the line. I am no social psychologist but I’d suggest when a country gets beaten to the ground in various decades of the 20th (Trianon, the war made their marks and a seemingly wrong turn after the Wall went down), perhaps there should… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@Rikard

“Perhaps it’s a start in getting out of the morass…”–no, it’s not. It might’ve been if Hungary had contributed something other than 150 ‘soldiers’ who don’t fight.
An attempt to help might’ve been sending 50 doctors and 100 nurses and setting up a hospital.
I would’ve applauded that…

Kormos
Guest

and you would be the first to cry about shortage of doctors and nurses in Hungary.

István
Guest

Petofi are you a pacifist? I would have never taken you for one given your comments over the last year and a half I have been reading them.

Webber
Guest

Petofi’s point may have been that these Hungarian soldiers will not be sent into combat positions, and will not do anything at all of significance. Given what I know about Hungarian missions abroad to date, I’d say that was right. With the exception of missions to peaceful areas, such as the Hungarian engineers in Mostar who helped re-construct the bridge there, these missions have been a drag:
They are largely paid for by the US Army. They cannot be used in combat roles. They have to be protected by American troops, thereby cutting down numbers of American personnel needed elsewhere. They are, in short, “more expensive” for the American taxpayer than American soldiers.

Tyrker
Guest

“An attempt to help might’ve been sending 50 doctors and 100 nurses and setting up a hospital.”

Sure but that is not what the Americans wanted. They wanted Hungary to send troops:
http://444.hu/2015/03/23/katonakkal-kell-bizonyitania-magyarorszagnak-az-usa-elott/

Webber
Guest

That is pure speculation – “Washington MIGHT have…” (a békülésnek MEGKÉRHETTE az árát Washington).
The very title of the article contains a question mark.
There is not a shred of evidence presented in it that Washington made a suggestion, request, or that Washington even welcomes Hungarian military involvement in Iraq.
Orban claimed that the request came from “Kurdistan.” Washington would never use that word for the place.
So, that is evidence that the request didn’t come from Washington.
I’d be willing to bet it did not – but cannot be sure. I can be sure that all this is just speculation.

Derrick
Guest

This is the psychology of the ‘present giving’.

Orban, and his people can then raise this at every meeting with Americans and even with others who are in a good relationship with the Americans, that look, we supplied troops to Iraq, against ISIS (and those Americans are so ungrateful, what more can they possibly want from us than the lives of righteous young Hungarians?

The US will have difficulty to ignore this, after all this would mean the belittling of the Hungarian troops, when in the US the lives of the troops is absolutely sacrosanct and the US has to behave politely and in a diplomatic manner — even when Orban and his people are corrupt jerks.

It doesn’t matter why Orban did it, he supplied the troops so the US owes Hungary one.

Webber
Guest

Tell me, assuming the troops are sent, why would “the US owe Hungary one?” They’re being sent to Erbil, in Iraq, supposedly to “help” Kurdistan. They aren’t there to help anyone in the States. They won’t be used in combat, so they won’t be helping American soldiers. They won’t, in fact, be working against ISIS at all as far as anyone can tell.
Indeed, they’ll have to be evacuated fairly quickly if ISIS gets anywhere near Erbil.
So, in what way will the US “owe” Hungary anything for this service rendered to a foreign state? What, indeed, does this have to do with the US at all?
Iraq is not an American state – and never will be.
Now, the government of “Kurdistan” is another thing. They might owe Hungary something – but I guess they’ve already arranged full payment for services rendered, through the oil concession to MOL.

Derrick
Guest

Sorry if I wasn’t clear but this is how the fideszniks in foreign relations think. Not me.

Webber
Guest

Allow me to apologize!
Sometimes I miss irony in print.

Mike Balint
Guest

With all due respects, the Hungarian Army is a joke, with their comic operetta-style full dress uniforms, and guaranteed total inability to defend Hungary against even a platoon of Mickey Mouses.

Having been a “grunt” with many years combat experience in the Israeli infantry, the so-called Hungarian “Army” never ceases to amuse me.

Sending a hundred and fifty of these toy-soldiers/goldbricks for guard duty in some godforsaken camps in the rear of the Kurdistan battle lines is obviously a dirt cheap way of trying to curry favour with those (yesteryear still oh, so abominable) Yanks and of course those suddenly oh, so oil-rich Kurds.

Ridiculous and pathetic at the same time, another genuine ‘Hungarikum’.

Webber
Guest

The two Hungarian soldiers I know – one an officer – would agree with you, but with great disgust and some sadness. Both wish things were better.

TheRev
Guest

Look, this is how people (voters) want it. People want pension, cheap electricity (perhaps stadiums) but not an army.

Plus the previous conscription system was so hated that you just mention armed forces and people run away. It’s also about leadership and trust: why would anybody want to die for Orban or whoever.

Plus it’s also about a terrible issue. Luck. Belgium or Switzerland are safe, nobody’s ever gonna attack them. Israel or Estonia, not so lucky. Hungary, well, as long as Ukraine exists, we’re OK. So people in Hungary don’t care just as a Spaniard or a Portuguese doesn’t give a damn about Russia or army. They’re safe.

spectator
Guest

Typically most of the comments missing the point, which is: just what this is all about, anyway?
This is all about the most vicious threat against civilisation as we know it in the recent centuries! Warning: this is MY opinion! – and it must stopped by any means.
No, it isn’t about religion, even if their favourite pastimecomment image
but the core of our culture, which is on the verge to be eradicated.

What any sane person should do is to support any effort to stop these madmen by any means, there is no doubt in my mind.

One more complementing tidbit: I am pacifist and against of violence in any form.
Normally, that is.

Webber
Guest

I agree with everything you’ve written above.
Yet, I think sending Hungarian troops to Erbil is counterproductive both for Iraq and for Hungary, and has the potential to further destabilize both countries (my arguments above and below).

Istvan
Guest
None of the troops being sent to Kurdistan are to be front line combat forces. From what I have read they are all playing a security role, which does not mean you can’t get killed. While Hungarian forces that served in Afghanistan did not do as well as the Poles did for example they were not cowards by any means. Hungary joined the NATO/ISAF mission in 2003. The Poles were far better funded and trained than Hungarian forces, hence I think their better combat records. Besides operating a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the northern province of Baghlan, Hungarian soldiers also assisted with Afghan National Army and Air Force training. A joint U.S.-Hungarian Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (frequently nicknamed omelette after the official OMLT abbreviation) cooperated with an Afghan battalion in Baghlan for in-the-field training and support action. Hungary had a Mi-17 transport helicopter advisory team at Shindand airbase. Hungary also had a Special Operations Unit deployed in Afghanistan. Hungarian forces to my knowledge sustained seven casualties in Afganistan, six of whom died in combat. Hungarian troops came under attack in Khilagay, Baghlan province, north Afghanistan several times and served with honor. The individual Hungarian soldiers were just as… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Hungary , well as long as Ukraine exists, we’re OK’

Perhaps good for the Hungarian high command to mull over courtesy of an ancient Roman who knew something about war?

‘Que desiderat pacem praeparet vellum’
(If you want peace prepare for war)

As we know there is usually fluidity in the pace and strength of international relations . Hungary appears protected with NATO in the event Mr. Putin wants to visit uninvited, unannounced and without passports. I sure hope they’re not like Sweden who have nodded off with their defense.

And just a bit on Hungary contributing troops to fight ISIS. I’d think the discussion on that really goes to a much more important question with regard to Hungary. I’d suggest it cuts more to the heart of what does Hungary think its role and vocation should be in the world and how to go about it? In my estimation better to engage pro-actively in some way than perhaps laying back and watching the world go by.

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