The U.S. presidential election in the pro-government Hungarian media

After two weeks of national conventions, the American presidential race remains headline news in Hungary. It really took center stage after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced his support for the Republican candidate, Donald Trump. His announcement prompted the pro-government media to launch a propaganda campaign against Hillary Clinton and in favor of Trump. Today I will try to capture the general tone of the coverage by the Hungarian right-wing press.

As Dániel Deák, an analyst with the Nezőpont Intézet, correctly pointed out in Magyar Hírlap, “the natural political ally of the Hungarian right-wing government is the American Republican Party.” I would add that this is especially the case now that the Republicans have a candidate who is a populist demagogue, cut out of pretty much the same cloth as Viktor Orbán. The right-wing political commentator doesn’t understand why the liberals are surprised about Orbán’s announcement of his support for Trump. After all, the opposition parties as well as commentators critical of the Orbán government have been telling their readers that Hillary Clinton’s nomination “would be a tragedy for the Orbán government.”

The pro-government media is full of warmed-up stories about the injustices Orbán’s Hungary suffered at the hands of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, going all the way back to June 24, 2010 when she received Hungary’s new foreign minister, János Martonyi. “On her overly made-up face one could see immense conceit while all her words reflected the belief that she was representing the best of all possible worlds,” László Szőcs writes. In those days he was Népszabadság’s correspondent in Washington, but now he works for Magyar Idők. The same Szőcs in a later article recalled that in 2008 Barack Obama accused Clinton of a lack of integrity, calling her a person who would say anything in order to achieve her ultimate goal of becoming president of the United States. In addition, this aggressive woman dared to put political pressure on the Orbán government because of Hungary’s new constitution and law on the churches. And, if that wasn’t enough, she summarized her demands in twelve points at the end of 2011, charging that the Orbán government wasn’t democratic enough.

Hillary Clinton at the National Democratic Convention

Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention

She was a total flop as secretary of state. “Her failures and her aggressive policies of ‘democracy export’ are in large part responsible for the distressing state in the countries of the Middle East and in many North African countries,” Dániel Deák charges.

In Magyar Hírlap Ottó Nagy (I don’t know who he is) practically accuses Hillary Clinton of “keeping secrets from her own country.” Or perhaps she had something even worse in mind, like stealing. “Let’s not forget about the lucrative Clinton Foundation. Did she perhaps fill her own pockets? After all, in her circles where George Soros shows up here and there, people tacitly understand one another.” Hillary Clinton’s sin, according to Nagy, has been playing “the feminist card and gender theory, following the thinking of the Democratic party.” If she succeeds Barack Obama as president then, “following the very American and very Democratic line, given the embrace of LGBTQ people, who knows who the next president will be.”

The Hungarian right, in addition to condemning Clinton’s policy of exporting democracy, also accuses her of undue pressure on the Orbán government on the issue of migration, which is clearly not the case. After all, she stepped down as Secretary of State in 2013. Deák, for example, brings up Coleen Bell’s speech at Corvinus University on October 29, 2015. But the fact is that Coleen Bell countless times declared that Hungary has the right to defend her borders and build the fence to keep refugees and migrants out, although she criticized the Hungarian government’s propaganda campaign. Let me quote what Bell had to say on this point. “Every sovereign nation has the right to protect its borders,” but, she added, “every nation, as a part of the international community, also has a fundamental obligation to help refugee populations seeking safety.” She said that words of intolerance and the xenophobic labeling of refugees as invaders and antagonists “have no role in our efforts to find a solution.”

From the point of view of the Hungarian right, the American pro-immigration policy will only intensify under the presidency of Hillary Clinton. Therefore, hoping for Trump’s victory is a normal reaction. Trump’s policies are a perfect fit with those of the Orbán administration. They are “clear and in line with Hungary’s national interest.”

Donald Trump at the Republican Convention

Donald Trump at the Republican Convention

Viktor Orbán singled out only three of Trump’s favorite themes in showing solidarity with him: he is against immigration, he believes that national security forces must be strengthened, and he contends that the West must end its export of democracy. To Orbán, these three policy positions are also of vital importance to Hungary. Or, to be more precise, to his Christian, national, illiberal Hungary.

Viktor Orbán may well be convinced that his own policies are in the nation’s interest, although many consider them to be a detriment to the country and its people. Is his far too close relationship with Vladimir Putin in the national interest? I doubt it. Is his undermining of the fragile structure of the European Union in Hungary’s interest? No. Is the systemic corruption he introduced that results in his and his friends’ enrichment good for Hungary? Is it in the interest of ordinary Hungarians? Definitely not.

“National interest” is one of those concepts that every scoundrel who manages to get into high office can appeal to. And usually national interest is equated with or reduced to the interest of that politician. It is not in the interest of Viktor Orbán personally to have Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States, but it’s hard to see how her presidency would be in any way detrimental to Hungary. And I fear that a Trump presidency, which Viktor Orbán welcomes, might be perilous not only for Hungary but for the whole western world.

July 30, 2016

 

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sunyilo12
Member

Orban and co are there for a rude awakening regardless of the outcome of the US presidential elections. While there is a fierce competition for the nomination and presidency, once these are over America’s interests will come first no matter who wins. The concept may be unfamiliar to Hungarian politicians but national agendas immediately take over party agendas once the election is over; the pervasive corruption and anti-Western rhetoric will be a non-starter for any American president whether Clinton or Trump finish first.

Member

There’s a reason why the pro-government media is attacking Clinton: they can see the writing on the wall and want to prime the Hungarian populace to be anti-Clinton when she likely wins the election.

This Times article sums up Trump’s struggles pretty well: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/us/politics/donald-trump-presidential-race.html?_r=0

Trump’s campaign is struggling because, as the article points out, the electoral map is stacked against the GOP, and he’s clearly not expanding it as he said he would. In fact, he’s making it even harder for the party by putting even fairly reliable red states into play for the Democrats, like NC, GA, and AZ. (I should also mention that a poll a month ago found that 30% of Utah voters want to vote for a third-party candidate. A combination of third-party votes combined with low voter turnout might even conceivably throw this state to the Democrats.)

Of course, the conventions have just ended and we’ll see how that affects things, but the general consensus seems to be that the Democratic convention was a much better event than the Republican one.

All of this makes it very, very difficult for Trump to win the election, though admittedly not impossible.

BMO
Guest

Dear Eva,

Many thanks for your continued output of insightful and high quality pieces on these current affairs .

I believe it is important to note that Hungarian foreign policy as such, simply does not exist. To put it bluntly, Hungarian foreign policy must be interpreted as a series of sporadic, independent statements that are crafted to appeal to the disenchanted masses just enough to drive a wedge between them and the sane, so as a result Orban can hold onto his seat.

This might be upsetting to the precipitously shrinking democrats of the Western populace or the political intelligentsia, but where the end-game is all about material gains, this just seems to work perfectly.

We are always too quick to judge the governing elite or the inertia of the opposition, but what does the last 5 years or so say about the average Hungarian and his or her ability to adjudge its chosen representatives?

I , personally, assign blame to such voters first…

dottoressa
Guest

In a democracy or a system that tries to call itself a democracy never ever assign the blame to voters. The blame is always on the politicians.

The voters cannot say what they want, they cannot express their wishes for those wishes are anyway contradictory and most people are unable to communicate those wishes and desires and grievances.

But most fundamentally people are able only to somehow express their opinions via the limited voting options they are presented. To express their complex views they are constrained to vote for Clinton vs. Trump or Brexit vs. EU or Orban or the “divided liberals” etc. In any case, the blame is on the politicians, always.

BMO
Guest

All of God’s creatures are perfect just the way he made them; like the hummingbird, the jelly fish or the vastly uninformed, passive average voter that makes me sick of modern politics.

e-2016
Guest

Not a bad interview on the Catsimatidis show: https://soundcloud.com/john-catsimatidis/eric-trump-national-7-31-16

Member
SOMNAMBULISM Perhaps in a completely information-controlled dictatorship (which is hardly possible in the online era, though maybe North Korea comes closest) the “politicians” are to blame if the populace makes the wrong electoral “choice.” But in most of the world, despite the polarized media, it is still possible to make informed choices, if the populace makes the effort. Yet in the case of Clinton vs. Trump this is not even the problem. One just has to hear Trump (1-2 times) to see that he is a brainless, heartless, cheap, vulgar, self-aggrandizing, lying tycoon. That all non-psychopathic american voters don’t immediately and totally reject him with revulsion is not only an extremely sad — indeed tragic — fact about far too large a proportion of the US electorate, but it is open and shut evidence about who is to blame if he is elected: Trump certainly couldn’t have done it without them. In Hungary today, with its own Turul Trump, the situation is somewhat different — because the press is highly controlled, the electoral ridings are gerrymandered and rampant conferral of extra-territorial citizenship has stacked the cards, the constitution has been gutted and guttered, checks and balances are nearly gone, mafia-style… Read more »
webber
Guest

Yes, Stevan, sometimes in democracies the wrong man wins. That is a trivial point. Trivial even in Canada. Witness Toronto’s former Mayor (RIP), the crack-smoking Rob Ford.
People voted for him. So what? Tur(ul)ds are voted into office. They are voted out of office.
Freedom means the right to make the wrong choices. Without that, there is no freedom.
So, chin up. The fact that Rob Ford won some elections demonstrates only that Canada is a democracy.
And the fact that many people (more than you or I would like) support Trump merely demonstrates that the US is a democracy.

That said, I’d be willing to bet that Trump will lose.

Member

The question was not whether democracy is right or wrong but about who’s to blame if the wrong person is voted in: the politicians or the voters? And if they do it twice in a row?

I can’t believe that Trump will win either. But it’s already too late to disbelieve that he’s got this far, with this much support, yet it’s unbelievable (and tragic). A sad day both for democracy and for civilization.

Who would have dreamt that so many americans would follow the Turul trail? (Not that many would have the faintest inkling of what’s going on in some Balkan backwater…)

petofi
Guest

Yes but Freedom and Democracy also carry an implicit requirement to inform oneself and respect
the power of one’s vote…

webber
Guest

Sadly, no.
One is free, also, to be ignorant and to waste one’s vote. That is the essence of freedom. The right to do wrong.

e-2016
Guest

I also wholeheartedly support the rescue of the Syrian refugees. Syria has been a longstanding victim of the Moscow plots. The Syrian regime betrayed its people badly. It is a crime against humanity.
http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/12/02/pro-amnesty-christian-groups-receiving-1-billion-feds-double-syrian-refugees/

Guest

Please don’t use “breitfart” as a source – they’ve been doing so much propaganda and outright lies that I’d have trouble believing them if they told me 2 + 2 = 4

They’re even worse in a way than RT aka Russia today, Putin’s propaganda!

e-2016
Guest

Perhaps, it is time for a fresh look at our sources.
Let us hope the disinformation streaming from Moscow will be rejected by all of us, including chief innocent obama and hillary.
Hillary assisted Moscow by splitting the public with the Khan family.

Guest

Have you gone totally crazy now?

It’s Trump who showed his real face – even the conservative Swiss NZZ reports on this lunacy:
http://www.nzz.ch/international/amerika/tabu-gebrochen-trump-laesst-sich-provozieren-ld.108576

petofi
Guest

Somnambulism is too kindly an explanation: fact is that the largely victim mentality, and mass Hungarian inferiority…can only find a temporary respite by putting down and tramping on someone or something. In the first instance, that ‘someone’ was Gyurcsany…shortly thereafter to be followed by ‘jews’, ‘tzigany’, Soros, Hillary and what have you. Orban understands the roots of hate–and the necessity of how to feed it regularly. And HATE, is a far more efficacious distraction than anything else.

Observer
Guest

Hear, hear.
My personal experience here is that even the higher middle class, ie. the best educated people, do not understanding how the political processes or the economy work.
They are often too cowardly or lazy to act and rationalize this with various ifs and buts blaming all and sundry.
Yes, the opposition is weak first of all because these voters stay out of the fight which they want someone else to win for them.

Guest

Re: ‘But the electorate is still to blame for the fact that they keep voting in Orban’

You know in this post-Orwellian/Huxleyian atmosphere it looks as if Fidesz is a long running movie it has mastered the formula of the ‘feelies’. It has been a one-theme show so far yet there are so many others unexplored. Yes, there is a sleepiness to watching Orban’s type of movie-going.

dottoressa
Guest
And the Trump presidency is looking more probable by the day. At Nate Silver, the two are now tied at 50% for the first time. There seems to be no Clinton bounce after the convention, which bodes ill for Clinton. The NY Times seems to be totally missing the beat with a new article saying that Trump is fighting an uphill battle because it must carry each of OH, FL and PA and the know that. But OH and FL are already leaning Trump and PA is also moving closer to Trump. It seems the NY Times is in denial too. In fact OH was almost won by Romney and his video tipped the scale and the maybe the fact that Obama bailed out the car companies in Michigan (but OH has many car part suppliers). There are no similar issues and Trump is hearing and recognizing the grievances of the white middle class, Romney did not. Clinton seems not to either. The momentum is clearly with Trump, unfortunately. Trump is moving the fantasy of voters in a way Clinton does not and that is deadly. Elections are not about rational choices, people cannot be swayed by arguments that Trump… Read more »
Guest

Oh yes?
Democracies have a hard time competing with dictatorships which can operate on very long term time scales and with great discipline.

Remeber Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Ceaucescu, Mussolini?

Of course dictatorships can survive for some time – but not for too long …

Maybe the USA needs a Trump presidency to clean itself of all that historical ballast:
The fascination with Weapons and violence, religion and superstition (creationism anyone?) hypocricy etc …

Wouldn’t be a nice scenario, but in the long run …

dottoressa
Guest
wolfi, I would argue that Russia has not been democracy since Putin (even before that it was a limited one) and although the current system is less bloody than the system of Stalin, it is still an autocracy. Same for China., which is very dictatorial especially under the current leadership. Europe is a different matter (Hitler, Ceau, Mussolini), but I do not think that we saw the end of history. As long as the economy is good and people are happy, they are generous and kind and such politicians will be elected. When the situation gets worse, democracies are in a difficult situation. Turkey or Iran or Russia or China play on a time scale that is totally alien to Western people, like centuries. It is just not comprehensible for Westerners. China may let Taiwan or Hong Kong play around a bit, or Iran may delay the bomb, because they know that in a decade or two or maybe in 50 years they will still be there with the same nationalistic goals and they can still accomplish such goals. They can wait a bit, until the meddling Wester powers are preoccupied with unimportant issues and when they are strong enough… Read more »
Member
“Turkey or Iran or Russia or China play on a time scale that is totally alien to Western people, like centuries.” So what? Those places are shitholes for the average person to live in, and everyone knows it. Who immigrates to those four countries to seek a better life for themselves? No one. Who immigrates to ANY autocratic country thinking that it’s going to provide them a better standard of life than in a liberal democracy with political freedoms? It doesn’t happen. But you do find people from all over the world who want to move to countries with political freedoms and a liberal democracy, because we know that they provide a better standard of living than autocracy. Since you mention a time scale of centuries: just 300 years ago, there weren’t any democracies anywhere. But the idea of democracy has been spectacularly successful since then, spreading to every corner of the world. Perhaps half of the world population lives under some sort of democratic system today. This is unprecedented in all of human history. The reason why is because, despite all of its faults, it’s clear to everyone that a Western-style democracy gives its populace better economic opportunities, a… Read more »
dottoressa
Guest

I am not sure you are familiar with migration matters. Russia is full of migrant workers from Central Asia, but also from China. Autocracies like KSA. Qatar or the Emirates are full of migrant workers from South Asia. Only these people cannot expect citizenship, which is usually a possibility in Europe.

It is most decidedly not clear to everyone that a Western style democracy gives its populace better economic opportunities and so on. It is not clear to average Russians nor to average Chinese or average Iranians. Hell, it may not even be true for an average Hungarian. They sure envy the wealth but they will not connect it to democracy.

Moreover even if they would think Western style democracy provided better economic opportunities people may still endure hardship if they thought that their nation was getting stronger, respected more etc., see Russia for example.

e-2016
Guest

Dottoressa, thanks for contributing fresh ideas and observations.

Vision is in short supply in our world.

Please stay with us to move this blog to an enlightened direction.

Member

Please do elaborate: exactly what kind of “vision” is Dottoressa providing us?

I look forward to your reply.

dottoressa
Guest

You made (or implied) a very bold statements about the connection of wealth (growth) and democracy and that this connection is well known by everybody. And the fact that there is migration from poor authoritarian states to rich democracies according to you proved these points. Unfortunately neither of these statements is true or at least would be contested by many. Although I too have a hunch that Western style democracies provide better public services, can be richer, make better strategic national decisions etc. and there are many scholars who argue that there is indeed such link but it is far from being proven, especially not as a causal connection. Also as the West has been stagnating (especially the income of the middle class) people look (probably wrongly,for many reasons) to high growth East Asian authoritarian systems with envy.

Guest

You’re really crazy!

Have you any idea at all about life in those “successful authoritarian states” and about the economic and especially ecological problems there?

Just as the Soviet Block imploded in 1989 China etc might implode too soon from ecological desasters – of course the rich don’t care about that and the poisoning of the rivers etc …
It’s only the poor that suffer – like in Hungary!

dottoressa
Guest

wolfi, unfortunately I’m not. If you make sweeping statements, you have to prove them. There is no widely accepted causational link between democracy and wealth or democracy and higher economic growth. There are indeed scholars who tried to prove this, but it is very difficult given that economic growth usually has many causes and because data sets are not reliable and long enough.

webber
Guest

Sorry, Dottoresa, but look at the highly developed countries in the world. Now look at how many of them are democratic.

Guest

It’s you who are making sweeping statements about the “success” of the regimes in Asia!

I see only a lot of poor hard working people – like in Hungary …
And of course a few billionaires – you call that success?

Member

dottoressa:
1. My question was for “e-2016,” not for you. And (unsurprisingly) that poster did not respond. (But since you both work for FSB, I guess it’s all the same…)
2. What is your “vision” again? Because that was what you failed to make clear.
3. economic/political freedoms and successful countries: I recommend you read “Why Nations Fail,” which makes this connection pretty convincingly. There’s a great section on why the Soviet Union did so well economically for a while, then completely collapsed.
4. ” people look (probably wrongly,for many reasons) to high growth East Asian authoritarian systems with envy.”
What? This claim is patently false. No one in the west does this, trust me.

dottoressa
Guest

Look, I like Acemoglu etc. and his book is convincing but that doesn’t mean it is true for sure. I wouldn’t want to go into details about data sets. Just try to imagine that if Hungary cooks its numbers under the nose of the EU and Greece has clearly falsified its, then how reliable the data sets of Africa or Asia, especially going back decades? Have you ever been to Africa and worked with government data? Russia and China are almost certainly falsifying their data but everybody have to pretend that they are reliable etc. In social sciences dealing with such difficult to define concepts such as democracy causation is extremely difficult to establish.

Guest

They sure envy the wealth but they will not connect it to democracy.
That may be true for those Hungarians who are still staying in their country – the clever ones who made the connection have all emigrated or are thinking really hard about emigration.

Guest
Re: ‘Moreover even if they would think Western style democracy provided better economic opportunities people may still endure hardship if they thought that their nation was getting stronger, respected more etc., see Russia for example’ And thus Russia would be apparently running a shill game when the hardships press hard on the population. Then the old saws come out noting it is the democracies causing their lamentations. Russia’s historic paternalism to its minions then is all in flower. There there it is not our fault. It is the dreadful West. Look West to see your enemies. It is a canard constantly fed to those who gave been trained to lap it up. Russian and Magyar national interests currently seem to be manufactured out of a sense of imbalance to the West. It is an imbalance based on inherent inferiority and deep envy. Russia hates the position of ‘also-ran’. They need to be ‘leader’ whatever the cost. And the Magyars. They appear to usually like to follow those who they think ‘have the edge’ in great games. Viktor gets an added bonus praising Trump. At the same time ‘interests’ are lined up he will revel when the US will have to… Read more »
dottoressa
Guest

Unfortunately many Hungarians will connect democracy with decline. There are millions of losers after the fall of communism and they think this new system sucks. It is seemingly dominated by corrupt politicians, multinational companies and result in the degradation of their rural regions (despite the EU subsidies). Telling them that this is inevitable part of the necessary restructuring, capitalism, that they need to educate themselves, learn languages accept the iron rules of market etc. will not help. The point is, democracy and wealth are not at all automatically connected in all people’s minds.

Guest

millions of losers

Are you telling us that Hungarians are less well off after the fall of “Communism”?
Then you’re really crazy!

dottoressa
Guest

I said many, probably millions in Hungary feel worse off.

This is their subjective feeling. That they have lost a lot with capitalism.

Can you imagine that? Is this difficult to understand, because I thought it was pretty clear that many in the CEE have ambivalent feelings about the post 1990 era.

People hoped for an Austrian living standards and now look at Ozd, Komlo or Tatabanya. Blame them for their stupidity. Tell them that they should feel happy, and if not its their fault.

e-2016
Guest

To: shoopyJuly 31, 2016 5:24 pm and wolfi7777,

Please remain patient and tolerant in light of the visionary remarks of dottoressa.

Please remain courteous with Lady Dottoressa.

I hope, we will reach some agreement if we deal with each other politely.

Thanks.

webber
Guest

Quite an example. The workers you mention going to Russia and the Gulf states are from autocratic states too.

Do you see masses from Europe moving to Russia? You do not.

Anyway, Russia is in severe economic decline because of the price of oil, and there is now reverse migration from Russia, as Central Asians return to their home states. The same goes for the Gulf states. Saudi Arabia is in very bad economic shape.

Guest

Re: ‘Do you see masses from Europe moving to Russia? You do not’

And come to think of it the country has not had consistent attacks as Europe has experienced. Putin seems to have softened terrorists from exporting their violence to his state. Orban has to see it and the methods underlying it.

dottoressa
Guest

You are right, but the original argument by shoopy was not that. We also don’t know how many people would move to a rich authoritarian Asian country if they really welcomed foreigners (if Singapore is any guide then many, but East Asian countries just don’t like foreigners).

Russia may be in decline, and it is indeed a comfort for the West, but it is sure influential and strong militarily and its populace is loving what is happening. It’s apparently great to be a citizen of a country which is feared and respected for its power (at leat looking at Putin’s approval numbers), even if you die 15 years earlier than if you lived in the West.

Observer
Guest

@dottrsa
“its populace is loving what is happening.” Russians that is.

WRONG. Many compensate for their miserable lives with posturing when facing foreigners. Just like Orban’s BS – big, historical, strong, respected, etc. Most Russians lament, eg. see movie Leviathan and comments thereafter, if u understand Russian.

Russia has failed to develop any competitive industry, not even its oil and gas ones. Only some weapons are advanced enough to sell internationally.

dottoressa
Guest

I tend to agree with this. There is certainly posturing when asked by foreigners. But I’ve always genuinely felt even 15 to 20 years ago that most people were sad not just about their lives but losing their status as a citizen of a world power. It was an identity issue. Then the USSR was respected, 15 years ago Russia wasn’t, it felt humiliated. The people above anything else wanted to feel strong again, respected and feared (all the more so because they were poor, it is not surprising that in bad economic times nationalism often works pretty well in keeping people happy). Putin with his virtual media and foreign adventures provided that and they are now happy. Erdgan is not just popular because of the economic results but because Turkey is now “big and strong” and even Turkish Germans like that new status. With Erdogan they too receive something from this “respect”. They are not like one of those poor loser Syrian or Afghan immigrant, they are now f****ng Turkish, and it feels good.

Observer
Guest

We are in agreement with the psycho/identity profile and underlying causes of this syndrome. It’s the same everywhere, here in Hun too.

This doesn’t change the economic basis of the miserable life, neither the realization of the latter.
The overwhelming majority of Russians don’t even like, let alone love, what is happening there,which was our point.
I suspect the majority of Turks are not enthralled with Erdogan either.

e-2016
Guest

Wolfi, do not radicalize yourself, let us stay true to the enlightened Tuebingen.
Hillary is not a credible candidate. Selfish, greedy, multimillionaire, servant to the sponsors.
Trump is not a potential dictator.
Trump is less radical than the Obama of empty speeches, and the willing collaborator with Moscow.

Guest
Observer
Guest

@e 2016.
U just blew your cover. Even as a Putin apologists u can participate hear, but not with the above nonsense. Get real.

Anyway , Trump is a crooked, pretty ignorant buffoon and would be ridiculous if not so near to the White House.

Observer
Guest

@dottoressa
“It’s the economy, stupid”
In all your examples the economies ran well during periods of liberalization and deteriorated during clamp Downs.
Dictatorships can indeed move faster but in unknown directions, statistically this guarantees worse outcomes, as history proves.
The long term superiority of democracies are pretty clear, which however does not guarantee their survival in crises.
My resipy for saving the Democratic world: get more dictatorial until the crises blows out.
Perche sono dottore anche io.

Guest

“The long-term superiority of democracies is pretty clear” principally because democracies operate with built-in self-correcting mechanisms, while autocracies and dictatorships don’t.

Guest

Reasonably accurate feedbacks and a capacity for timely course correction based on those feedbacks; that is the key to the resilience of the world’s leading liberal democracies. Elementary cybernetics, really, without which there is no long term survival.

Guest

And reasonably accurate feedbacks and a capacity for timely course correction are of course a function and consequence of the system of socio-political governance that prevail in those leading liberal democracies.

webber
Guest

Democracies have survived longer than any autocracy. Look at the American and British systems. Which autocracy has lasted that long? Not one. Soviet power lasted roughly 70 years. Putin’s power won’t last another 20 years (he is mortal, after all – we all age).

dottoressa
Guest

After Putin another one of the siloviki will come, don’t hold you breath for Russian democracy anytime soon. Try to imagine how difficult it is to set up a party in small Hungary, now imagine that on the Russian scale, with really tough mafiosi as you adversaries. The system will remain the same.

Chinese would argue that China is a four thousand year civilization that was never a democracy and which also just realized the longest sustained economic growth period in the history of humankind. I’m not sure average Chinese want to have a Western style democracy, more freedom yes, the ability told corrupt officials accountable but Western style democracy, I’m not sure at all.

webber
Guest

Silly, again.
I never argued Russia would become a democracy. I simply said that the current autocracy would not last. And it won’t. It’s a one-man show. It won’t last as long as communism.
What will come afterwards? I have no idea.

China – another silly argument from you. Nobody knows whether the average Chinese person wants a democracy, because the leadership wouldn’t even allow the question to be asked, or people to give honest answers.

dottoressa
Guest

Bu then you essentially meant that the Russian authoritarian system would continue. One ruler goes and comes the other, that’s all. the Roman empire used a lot of emperors but the system survived fro long. The Russian authoritarian system is also quite resilient it seems to me.

webber
Guest

Not at all.
There are very, very significant differences between the Tsarist system, communism, and the current Putin system.
There was a complete break from Tsarism to communism, and another break after communism.

By contrast, American and British democracy evolved with no great breaks in the system.

Member

I think you’re probably right about Russia and China.

But you’re missing the point: no one wants their country to be more like Russia’s and China’s. Certainly no one here in Hungary. And with good reason.

Guest

Hehe…. Can we imagine a global community lead by these guys: Russia, China, Syria, Turkey and North Korea and I won’t include the sycophantic little satellite nations who go the way the political winds blow? Too many to mention. From a political science point of view it has to be a truism life in the universe will go extinct.

With a political gang as the above democracies must always be aware of a rabid contentiousness and a hatred of the values incorporated in their communities. And it is evident to take an ancient Roman adage that democracies if they want peace must always prepare for war.

Member

EUKOLOS/DYSKOLOS

Hard to say whether “dottoressa” is just a fatalist/pessimist or a closet Turul triumphalist. His/her/its/their admirer “e-2016” certainly sounds more like a TT (or should we add the T for Trump too, or our fourth T-word)?

Yes, malign self-interest has a long arm, but without donning Pinker’s rose-tinted specs, slavery is now mostly outlawed; the subjugation of women is on the decline; rape, violence, torture, homicide and genocide are widely condemned and even sometimes punished. The absolute number of human-inflicted horrors is still increasing, but their proportion is decreasing (at least if we count only human victims), so if civilization can master population control, maybe even absolute wrongs will one day begin to shrink.

The day is long, and human nature is raw and savage, but the evidence is at least as supportive for positive developments as negative ones, even in the area of human rights and governance.

In any case, fatalism is self-fulfilling. With Pascal, we have to wager that a good outcome is at least possible.
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dottoressa
Guest

I am a pessimist as there are too many enemies of democracy and the politicians in the democratic states are currently delusional, while those in the above mentioned non democracies are cynical and focused, and intent to prove the West wrong. They might succeed, especially if Trump wins. There is a joke told about Mao who was asked about his opinions of the French revolution. He said it was too early to tell. But it is a joke in the West only. The Chinese really are not sure and play for the very long term.

webber
Guest

It was a Chinese fellow, but wasn’t Mao who said that. Look it up.

dottoressa
Guest

True, but many less people know Zou Enlai (I think it was him without looking it up now, I could be wrong) and thus the joke would be less funny. Anyway yours is not a counterargument. I write quickly.

Guest

If you look it up, you will see that Chou En-Lai was misunderstood, as he was actually referring to the then still ongoing Chinese Communist revolution, rather than the French one.

Istvan
Guest
I am honored that dottoressa and e-2016 have contributed to the discussion on this blog, I suspect it indicates Russia’s troll army believes it is necessary to promote Trump in every possible venue. I must admit I had reservations about the Washington Post reporter’s Anne Applebaum declaration that Trump policies are consistent with the interests of Putin, but in the last week I admit to having been won over to her perspective. My thinking up until then was just that Trump as a arrogant ass who thought he could out fox Putin, but this is all a lot darker than that. Her opinion piece supporting Sec Clinton draws the correct conclusions see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/why-we-need-a-president-clinton/2016/07/28/aaa40e76-54ef-11e6-bbf5-957ad17b4385_story.html Moreover the conservative American columnist George Will has become completely unnerved by the Trump/Russian connection see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-entangled-with-russia-is-trump/2016/07/29/d5255d10-54e7-11e6-b7de-dfe509430c39_story.html For those American Hungarians reading this blog if you are a patriot you can’t vote for Trump and I tell the same thing to members of our armed services. Trump never served in the Vietnam war thanks to repeated deferments which he sought out. What you have with Trump is someone who acts like a fighter but in his own life avoided every opportunity to fight. What you have is… Read more »
Member

Those who believe squeaky clean Trump is better than Hillary.. Get a grip! Better, start reading more!
Politifact is a Pulitzer Prize winning publication
http://www.politifact.com/personalities/hillary-clinton/
http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/
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Why Donald Trump does not want to release his tax returns?
http://www.dailypublic.com/articles/07292016/donald-trump-star-exemption-and-tax-returns
Donald Trump Settled a Real Estate Lawsuit, and a Criminal Case Was Closed
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/us/politics/donald-trump-soho-settlement.html?_r=1
Trump may have just leaked classified info on his first day getting intelligence briefing
http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/politics/trump-may-have-just-leaked-classified-info-on-his-first-day-getting-intelligence-briefings/

tappanch
Guest

Remark on the poll averages.

I think the swing towards Trump was caused by the appearance of the LA Times polls after July 18. Since then, they have been contributing to the poll average every second day, always showing a Trump lead. If LA Times does not change its same method of sampling, this lead will consistently be towards Trump.

If we take out the LA Times polls, the polls show a Hillary lead.
Bad polls for a candidate can energize her/his supporters, by the way.

https://ig.ft.com/us-elections/

webber
Guest

For dottoresa, e-2016 and all other Russian Trump-trolls:
Russia’s population: stagnating at c. 143.5 m.
United States’ population: rapidly growing, currently c. 318.9 m.
Russia’s GDP per capita in dollars: 14,612
The United States’ GDP per capita: 53,081
Russia’s GDP in dollars: 2.097 trillion
The United States’ GDP: 16.77 trillion
A Russian’s life-expectancy: c. 70 years
An American’s life-expectancy: c. 78 years.

Now for what really hurts –
Russia’s minimum wage: 6,024 Rubles per month, or… drum roll… about $94 at today’s exchange rate.

An American worker on the federal minimum wage would have to work just 12 hours, or a day and a half, to make what a Russian worker on minimum wage earns in month.

webber
Guest

P.S. A LOT of states have minimum wages significantly higher than the federal minimum wage. For example: Oregon $9.75 per hour. Washington, $9.47 per hour. Illinois, $8.25 per hour. Vermont, $9.15 per hour, etc., etc.

dottoressa
Guest
God, I am not a Russian and not a troll. I am trying to give ideas why Trump is so popular. Or why Putin or Erdogan are. None of the above are especially original ideas, but I guess unless someone promotes dilusional ideas then he/she will be branded a Russian troll. I am not even sure why my comments would be helpful for Trump or Putin. Most readers here apparently have zero ideas of development studies, development economics, political science, sociology concepts and if they hear something that may be perceived as going against their views than that’s trolling. You can write as many articles about Russias decline (I agree) but that will never be relevant in understanding Putin’s domestic popularity (which would be the envy of any Western politician) or Putin’s increasing global influence. Or look at the US GDP numbers, from the sheer numbers you would think the Democrats would be thanked for their achievements. Instead people are very displeased with their lives apparently. GDP is a very simplistic and crude metric. I would encourage some people here to be a bit more critical of perceived dogmas, like uneducated racist people will vote for Trump or Orban. The… Read more »
Guest

Putin has a bunch of lousy cards played very cleverly, America (on either side of the political divide) has a bunch of brilliant cards played pathetically. Putin is a strategist, while American leaders have always been tacticians at best, and pretty lousy ones at that, mainly reacting, rather than steering, especially in more recent times.

I am willing to wager two things. Trump will loose and loose badly, because the Democrats will get their act together and mercilessly show him up for the dangerously ignorant buffoon that he is. After Clinton’s victory however, things will get back pretty well to the previous routine, with Putin running circles around the Clinton administration that will counter that only by Obama-style feel-good rhetorical platitudes.

Guest

As to China. The long game that China is playing may well come to a surprisingly sudden disastrous end. They are dancing on pretty thin ice in many respects, and will need a hell of a lot of luck not to implode and break up territorially over the next half a century.

Guest

One more point re Putin. Putin has a clear strategic goal, the de facto restoration of the former Soviet geo-strategic space, and every major action he undertakes is aligned with that goal. In that endeavour he is fully backed by a Russian populace that willingly endured the horrors of the bloodlands and meat grinders of the Eastern front during WW2 in order to bring about that post-war Soviet geo-strategic space, a people, furthermore, that will only applaud Putin’s efforts and will never baulk at making major sacrifices and taking major risks in order to regain what they regard as rightfully theirs, negligently abandoned by a bunch of criminal traitors at the end of the communist era.

America on the other hand has no clear strategic goal or goals, and as they say, if you don’t know where you are going, it is unlikely you will ever get there. In addition, Americans are increasingly unwilling to make major sacrifices and take major risks to satisfy tactical whimsy, without any strategic end-game in sight.

Guest

And by the way, as to the Russian drive to regain the Soviet geo-strategic space, it is instructive to compare the relatively graceful and civilized way in which the UK disengaged from its colonial empire after WW2, and the obsessive-compulsive way Putin and the Russian people are trying to put together again a thoroughly disintegrated Humpty-Dumpty that well and truly fell of the wall.

Guest

And I think that this obsessive-compulsive geo-strategic drive on the part of the Russians is primarily because in their heart of hearts they know all too well that a civilized society with a well-functioning economy is not their strong suite and never will be, so they focus on what they (think they) are good at: raw brutality in all its various forms. Those Russians that did not and do not think and feel this way have for the most part departed for greener pastures in Israel, the United States, Western Europe and Australia/New Zealand, fatally depleting the numbers of those who could or would (have) acted as a break on that very Russian propensity for raw brutality. Which of course suits Putin right to the ground.

Guest

Now in your “rant” replace Russia with Hungary and Putin with Orbán – and then we see what’s wrong in the state of Orbanistan … 😉

PS:
Brext imho can also be seen in the light of the “Little Englanders” whining about their lost Empire!

Guest

1.
Rant? Gimme a break.

2.
Did I say anywhere that Orbán was not a mini-Putin? That he did not wrap himself in the cloak of Horthyist nationalism as soon as he realized that liberal democracy does not “sell” in Hungary, and that a civilized society with a well-functioning economy was not Hungary’s strong suite and never will be?

3.
As to Brexit, in my humble opinion, it had absolutely nothing to do with “little Englanders whining about their lost empire”, and everything to do with the barefaced lies of the Brexit leaders, the hapless incompetence of the “remain” leaders, plus the fact of most Brits being thoroughly sick and tired of Brussels and the foreigners flooding into the country.

As to lost empires, there is a big difference between “little Englanders whining about their lost empire” (even if they did, which they didn’t) and the Russians invading the coal fields of Eastern Ukraine, doing a Hitlerian Sudetenland in the Crimea (at least what Hitler did to Czechoslovakia was with the willing acquiescence of Britain and France, and implicitly of the Soviet Union and America ), and threatening to unleash tactical nuclear weapons to regain possession of the Baltic republics.

Guest

The “lost empire.” The empty assertions that some of the Brexit leaders kept making about trade with the Commonwealth replacing (at least in part) the trade with the EU was something that few if any Brits swallowed even from among the tiny minority of Little Englanders that do keep whining about the lost empire. After all, the whole point of being a Little Englander is wanting to be unencumbered by foreigners, be they from Eastern Europe, the Arab lands, or brown and black peoples from former British possessions.

e-2016
Guest

I am Hungarian. I love the balogh-blog.
I have warned all my friends that Orban would wreck Hungary after his 2010 victory.
I am also American.
Similary, I have judged that Obama would wreck America, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, after his 2008 victory.
Trump is now the better choice than the hostage Hillary of the clinton and obama era.

webber
Guest

“Similary, I have judged that…”
You are Hungarian and American and you put things that way? Hard to believe.
How did Obama “wreck America, Israel,”? Pray tell.
The American economy is in infinitely better shape now than it was when he took office in 2009.
Israel isn’t looking too bad.

If you aren’t Russian, you have an odd way of phrasing things.

Observer
Guest

Cool off guys.

@dottrsa has absolutely valid points here.
If nothing else look at the difference in quality compared to our standard “orban is winning” trolls.

As you all see, once someone goes into the area of good arguments, he/she can be disproved. This is why orban/parrots/trolls and co never really debate, they push the slogan emotion line where not much brains are required, hence winning is much easier.

Save the slogans for the intellectual plebs (where is Mustafa from HFP?)

webber
Guest

Observer
You haven’t got much experience with Russian trolls. They are much, much better than Hungarian ones.

dottoressa
Guest

Webber, A little paranoia is healthy, but you suffer from a serious case. I think Eva can attest that I write from around the Balaton. I can assure you that I am a normal Hungarian citizen, not a troll and absolutely not Russian.

webber
Guest

Fine. I’ll take your word for it.

e-2016
Guest

I am glad that dottoressa is an above average intelligent Hungarian.
Petofi, come to our help, and cooperate with us.

webber
Guest

On why Russia’s economic woes will not be alleviated by a Trump presidency, or any other presidency, and why the United States’ economic resiliency is certain – the following is good.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/31/texas-shale-oil-has-fought-saudi-arabia-to-a-standstill/

Russia is burning through financial resources backing Trump – resources it will need to survive in the future.

Guest

However, a cornered rat is the most dangerous. Particularly when it has a Russian mentality and Russian socio-cultural proclivities. I am not sure America has the strategic nous, tactical nimbleness, energy and patience to bring out of the cold a Russia on its economic knees and integrate it into the Euro-Atlantic system. The precedent of the almighty stuff-up of the nineties does not portend well for the future. The expectable American incompetence is therefore likely leave the cornered Russian rat at its most dangerous, and no doubt a cause of many dangerous geo-strategic explosions to divert attention from its disastrous economic failures.

webber
Guest

ambalint –
Other than the language, one of the things Americans got from England was “muddling through.” It is surprisingly effective. It is perfect for dealing with emergencies when they arise, and it helps governments avoid the fallacy that they can possibly plan for future emergencies.
Muddling through is the only possible “plan” when you have a government encumbered by checks and balances *absolutely marvelous ones); a government that can change every four years and must change every eight years.
Don’t mistake all that for a lack of strategic nous.
Back in the 1930s a lot of people thought “stable” fascism, communism, and nazism would outlast democracy because these systems had the ability to make long-term plans.
Didn’t work out that way, did it?

Observer
Guest

Very interesting developments.
The low oil/gas prices over the last several years lead to the greatest value transfer in history, and those monies remained in the OECD world.

Russia’s major short term economic problem is low oil/gas prices, but Russia has enormous shale oil reserves. The question is whether it can develop its own fracking technology or steal some advanced one (I doubt anyone will sell them such), and build the respective hardware.
If not, they will be in for a long stretch of austerity and misery. Only then we can talk about cornered rat, not today or tomorrow.

This is what I heard in Puttin’s warning against US racing ahead with defensive missile interception systems, delivered to Western journalists. Putin is smart enough to realize they don’t have the money now to compete in this game.

BTW He made no overt threats, nor he envisaged WW3 prospects in any way, as trumped up by Faux News, Hannity and other BS stations.

webber
Guest

Pardon?
The only people on the planet speaking about WWIII are Russian politicians. They do it regularly and frequently. Some call for it. You don’t find American politicians even considering it.

Read what Russia Insider, one of the the Russian government’s voice to the world had to say about Putin’s comments:
http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/putin-loses-it-journalists-i-dont-know-how-get-through-you-people/ri15456

Observer
Guest

@webber

This is exactly the speech and my reading stands.
What he said is that if the US continues developing and positioning these systems, process will go in this direction.
If you know politics you should be able to read between the lines to see the real reason for this performance, which was pretty good I have to add.
(it helps if u understand Russian).

webber
Guest

Russian media is saying Putin envisioned WWIII. That was my point.

He has nobody but himself to thank for the strengthening of NATO.
Is NATO or any NATO state engaged fly-overs violating Russian air-space? No.
Does Russia do the same to NATO countries? Yes, regularly (Britain, Alaska, the Baltic States – and more, all listed online,)
Did NATO, or any NATO state invade and then annex the territory of a neighboring country? No.
Did Russia, under Putin. do it, and recently? Yes. (Ukraine).

In the past decades, has the head of any NATO state suggested that territories “lost” should be re-conquered? No.

Has Putin suggested that the “lost” territories of the Soviet Union should be “recovered”? Yes, repeatedly.

What did Putin think NATO would do? Become weaker?

Observer
Guest

Webber,

Please don’t take the words at face value and put the actions in context. E.g. the Russian jets flying low over US warships was a real joy for the dupes on the net (see comments). It was a cheap candy for internal consumption.

Observer
Guest

Webber

Crimea takeover was just a matter of time, it used to be Russian, Sevastopol was the only naval base, Crimea the only sea resort (with Sochi is out), Russians being the majority there, etc. No brainer.

Eastern Ukraine was an indirect way to keep the anti Russian politics of Kiev in check. With a Russian majority there the process may sometimes go out of control a bit. When Kiev softens their rhetoric and policies, this conflict is going to rest too.

Compare the above with the US/NATO international involvement over the last decade (not that I reject the latter in principle).
Let’s not cry wolf too early, because it may come one day.

webber
Guest

The only people crying wolf are Russian politicians and their apologists.
You have chosen to take the role of the latter.
Стыдно!

Observer
Guest

@webber

FYI Here’s a rough summary, including the elements which I didn’t see reported in English:

Putin started with reminding how MAD ensured no major conflict took place for 70 years. This balance is vital he said and now the US is acting towards tipping it and the Russian concerns and approaches in this respect have been ignored. This is why he turns to the media and the wide public.

Putin explained long and patient his concern about the deployment of ostensibly defensive missile systems in Romania ans Poland. The silos/tubes of the system can take offensive Tomahawk as well, launching them is just a matter of software. He said Russia, or the host countries for that mater, have no way of knowing what missile has been set. The current range, he continued, is 500 km, but it will soon be 1000 and here we are with an offensive system sitting just across our borders.
We know, he concluded, the time table of these developments and they will only increase tensions and the danger of WWar.

webber
Guest

Observer –
Your position is classic appeasement.

In your narrative, everything Russia does, every violation of air space, every invasion of neighboring territories is either irrelevant (just “cheap candy” for the Russian public), or “inevitable” (nonsense), or justified (“Kiev’s anti-Russian policies”, puhlease!).

By contrast, everything NATO has done is, in your narrative, a “provocation” to Russia.

Appeasement, plain and simple.

Observer
Guest

Webber
Your appeasement conclusion is quite freevolous, I didn’t even imply what you chose to read there.
Notably I warned that the wolf may come, but don’t see it yet.
Поетому и совсем не стьдно.

Observer
Guest

Webber
BTW. Using inverted commas in the case of “inevitable”, “provocation” is dishonest as I didn’t use such words. Plus keep your standards.

webber
Guest

You are right,I should not have used the quotation marks – you used the words “just a matter of time” which means inevitable, but you did not use the word itself.
Everything you said suggested you see NATO’s response to Russian aggression as a provocation, but you did not use that word. You said everything but that word.
Putin did call it a “provocation.” You did not.

Still, shame on you, this time in English, or szégyellje magát if you prefer Hungarian.

Guest

Putin’s concern …
So important obviously (for you)!

What about the world’s concern on his autocratic inhuman treatment of LGBT people or other groups?

And if the invasion of the Crimea is ok – hell why doesn’t Ireland take back Northern Ireland from the British colonists?
And Austria should march into South Tyrol asap …

Need more examples?
Webber is totally right – you sound like a Russian troll right now, please get back to reality!

webber
Guest

Yes, poor Russians… .They lost their empire! Sob!
They are no longer able to rule over Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, or Ukrainians – and what a shame for these people! Russian rule was so very pleasant for them! So wonderful!
Poor Estonians! And lucky Eastern Ukrainians! We can only hope Estonians and Western Ukrainians will get the same benefits of rule from Moscow, and if we only adopt Observer’s wise policy recommendations, they will!
In the meanwhile, poor Russians! How we should sympathize with them for the loss of their empire to those genetically fascist Ukrainians and Estonians….

Seriously – yes, rights of Russian minorities outside Russia should be, must be supported. No question.
The EU has been doing a pretty good job at that, in my view, in the Baltic states.

Guest

But what about the rights of minorities in Russia?
Oh, i forgot – they don’t have any …

petofi
Guest

The benefits of Russian rule…back when I was in Moscow, it amazed me no little bit that McDonalds had to import their french fries from Holland because Russia could not produce potatoes of the necessary quality.
Ridiculous, no?

Oh, yes, while I’m at it: the grocery chain I frequented but raw potatoes from…Israel!?!!

petofi
Guest

correction: ‘but’ should be ‘brought’…

petofi
Guest

or, ‘bought’…

Observer
Guest

Guys,

It’s precisely reality that I am describing. It’s irrelevant whether one likes it or not.
I have correctly predicted what was going to happen next on many occasions (and often got criticized for being whatever). No point in killing the messenger.

And what all of the above has to to with “his autocratic inhuman treatment of LGBT people or other groups?” (which I deeply resent) or imply that I approve of the invasion of the Crimea (which I don’t).

The last two posts are substandard, so please read what’s there without prejudice and don’t jump to conclusions.
Again, these are no propaganda posts, although I do such from time to time for the intellectual plebs.

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