Two letters of Central European leaders to Washington: 2009 and 2017

Yesterday Josh Rogin of The Washington Post reported that 17 current and former officials of several East and Central European countries had written a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump with the following message: ”As your treaty-bound allies, we appeal to Americans in the new U.S. Administration and Congress to stand firm in the defense of our common goals and interests: peace, Atlantic strength, and freedom.”

This is not the first such letter sent to the White House by well-known politicians from the region, which has had less than pleasant experiences with Russian territorial ambitions. During the Obama administration, after the announcement of a “reset” of U.S. relations with Russia, a group of politicians sent a letter to the president warning him of the dangers of American neglect of the region and the possibility of “wrong concessions to Russia.” Among the signatories to both letters was Mátyás Eörsi, who was kind enough to call my attention to them.

The Washington Post article quotes Peter Doran, executive vice president of the Center for European Policy Analysis, who claims that the politicians in 2009 were right and “now with the prospect of a new grand bargain with Russia, Central Europeans are warning the new American president not to make the same mistakes of his predecessors.”

You will notice that in 2009 it took about four months for the Central European leaders to realize the dangers of a new policy toward Russia. This time around, Trump hasn’t even been sworn in and these politicians, diplomats, and national security experts are already alarmed. I’m afraid their worries are justified.

♦ ♦ ♦


Letter to President-elect Donald J. Trump
from America’s Allies

January 9, 2017

President-elect Donald J. Trump
Trump-Pence Transition Team
1717 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Dear President-elect Trump:

We—decision-makers and public figures from across Europe—welcome your election as America’s 45th president. We are eager to work with your administration to sustain our powerful transatlantic Alliance, jointly defending our way of life at a time of great peril.

Russia’s continuing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and its illegal annexation of Crimea, threaten the peace, predictability and security that Americans and Europeans created together through our victory in the Cold War. We are concerned that the prospect of a new grand bargain with Russia will endanger this historic achievement.

It would be a grave mistake to end the current sanctions on Russia or accept the division and subjugation of Ukraine. Doing so would demoralize those seeking a Euro-Atlantic orientation for that country. It would also destabilize our Eastern neighborhood economically and give heart to extremist, oligarchic and anti-Western elements there.

The wider damage would be grave too. The aftershocks of such a deal would shake American credibility with allies in Europe and elsewhere. The rules-based international order on which Western security has depended for decades would be weakened. The alliances that are the true source of American greatness would erode: countries that have expended blood, treasure and political capital in support of transatlantic security will wonder if America is now no longer a dependable friend.

Have no doubt: Vladimir Putin is not America’s ally. Neither is he a trustworthy international partner. Both of the presidents who preceded you tried in their own ways to deal with Russia’s leadership in the spirit of trust and friendship. Big mistake: Putin treated their good intentions as opportunities.

Under Putin, Russia’s record of militarism, wars, threats, broken treaties and false promises have made Europe a more dangerous place. Putin does not seek American greatness. As your allies, we  do.  When  America  called  on  us  in the past, we came. We were with you in Iraq. We were with you in Afghanistan. We took risks together; sacrificed sons and daughters together. We defend our shared transatlantic security as a united front. This is what makes our Alliance powerful. When the United States stands strong, we are all stronger—together.

A deal with Putin will not bring peace. On the contrary, it makes war more likely. Putin views concessions as a sign of weakness. He will be inclined to test American credibility in frontline NATO allies, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. He may use not only military intimidation, but also cyber-attacks, energy and economic pressure, espionage, psychological warfare, disinformation and the targeted use of bribery. As Russia’s neighbors, we are familiar with these techniques. Countering them requires greater strength, solidarity and resolve from the West—not more accommodation.

As your treaty-bound allies, we appeal to Americans in the new U.S. Administration and Congress to stand firm in the defense of our common goals and interests: peace,  Atlantic strength, and freedom. United, we are more than a match for Russia’s ailing kleptocracy. Divided, as we have seen all too clearly in recent years, we are all at risk. For decades, our unified Alliance has been the bulwark of European security. We appeal to our American friends to strengthen, not weaken our transatlantic ties. Ukraine needs support; the frontline states need your constancy and resolve. And most of all, Russia must see that when we are attacked, we grow stronger, not weaker.

Sincerely,

Traian Băsescu, Carl Bildt, Mikuláš Dzurinda, Mátyás Eörsi, Iulian Fota, István Gyarmati, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Rasa Juknevičienė, Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš, Paweł Kowal, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Rosen Plevneliev, Karel Schwarzenberg, Radosław Sikorski, Petras Vaitiekūnas, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra


An Open Letter to the Obama Administration

from Central and Eastern Europe

July 16, 2009

The following open letter to the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama appeared in the Polish newspaper “Gazeta Wyborcza” on July 16:

We have written this letter because, as Central and Eastern European (CEE) intellectuals and former policymakers, we care deeply about the future of the transatlantic relationship as well as the future quality of relations between the United States and the countries of our region. We write in our personal capacity as individuals who are friends and allies of the United States as well as committed Europeans.

Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States. Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years. U.S. engagement and support was essential for the success of our democratic transitions after the Iron Curtain fell twenty years ago. Without Washington’s vision and leadership, it is doubtful that we would be in NATO and even the EU today.

We have worked to reciprocate and make this relationship a two-way street. We are Atlanticist voices within NATO and the EU. Our nations have been engaged alongside the United States in the Balkans, Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. While our contribution may at times seem modest compared to your own, it is significant when measured as a percentage of our population and GDP. Having benefited from your support for liberal democracy and liberal values in the past, we have been among your strongest supporters when it comes to promoting democracy and human rights around the world.

Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, however, we see that Central and Eastern European countries are no longer at the heart of American foreign policy. As the new Obama Administration sets its foreign-policy priorities, our region is one part of the world that Americans have largely stopped worrying about. Indeed, at times we have the impression that U.S. policy was so successful that many American officials have now concluded that our region is fixed once and for all and that they could “check the box” and move on to other more pressing strategic issues. Relations have been so close that many on both sides assume that the region’s transatlantic orientation, as well as its stability and prosperity, would last forever.

That view is premature. All is not well either in our region or in the transatlantic relationship. Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region. The global economic crisis is impacting on our region and, as elsewhere, runs the risk that our societies will look inward and be less engaged with the outside world. At the same time, storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon. Like you, we await the results of the EU Commission’s investigation on the origins of the Russo-Georgian war. But the political impact of that war on the region has already been felt. Many countries were deeply disturbed to see the Atlantic alliance stand by as Russia violated the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and the territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council -all in the name of defending a sphere of influence on its borders.

Despite the efforts and significant contribution of the new members, NATO today seems weaker than when we joined. In many of our countries it is perceived as less and less relevant – and we feel it. Although we are full members, people question whether NATO would be willing and able to come to our defense in some future crises. Europe’s dependence on Russian energy also creates concern about the cohesion of the Alliance. President Obama’s remark at the recent NATO summit on the need to provide credible defense plans for all Alliance members was welcome, but not sufficient to allay fears about the Alliance´s defense readiness. Our ability to continue to sustain public support at home for our contributions to Alliance missions abroad also depends on us being able to show that our own security concerns are being addressed in NATO and close cooperation with the United States

We must also recognize that America’s popularity and influence have fallen in many of our countries as well. Public opinions polls, including the German Marshall Fund’s own Transatlantic Trends survey, show that our region has not been immune to the wave of criticism and anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years and which led to a collapse in sympathy and support for the United States during the Bush years. Some leaders in the region have paid a political price for their support of the unpopular war in Iraq. In the future they may be more careful in taking political risks to support the United States. We believe that the onset of a new Administration has created a new opening to reverse this trend but it will take time and work on both sides to make up for what we have lost.

In many ways the EU has become the major factor and institution in our lives. To many people it seems more relevant and important today than the link to the United States. To some degree it is a logical outcome of the integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU. Our leaders and officials spend much more time in EU meetings than in consultations with Washington, where they often struggle to attract attention or make our voices heard. The region’s deeper integration in the EU is of course welcome and should not necessarily lead to a weakening of the transatlantic relationship. The hope was that integration of Central and Eastern Europe into the EU would actually strengthen the strategic cooperation between Europe and America.

However, there is a danger that instead of being a pro-Atlantic voice in the EU, support for a more global partnership with Washington in the region might wane over time. The region does not have the tradition of assuming a more global role. Some items on the transatlantic agenda, such as climate change, do not resonate in the Central and Eastern European publics to the same extent as they do in Western Europe.

Leadership change is also coming in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to those, there are fewer and fewer leaders who emerged from the revolutions of 1989 who experienced Washington’s key role in securing our democratic transition and anchoring our countries in NATO and EU. A new generation of leaders is emerging who do not have these memories and follow a more “realistic” policy. At the same time, the former Communist elites, whose insistence on political and economic power significantly contributed to the crises in many CEE countries, gradually disappear from the political scene. The current political and economic turmoil and the fallout from the global economic crisis provide additional opportunities for the forces of nationalism, extremism, populism, and anti-Semitism across the continent but also in some our countries.

This means that the United States is likely to lose many of its traditional interlocutors in the region. The new elites replacing them may not share the idealism – or have the same relationship to the United States – as the generation who led the democratic transition. They may be more calculating in their support of the United States as well as more parochial in their world view. And in Washington a similar transition is taking place as many of the leaders and personalities we have worked with and relied on are also leaving politics.

And then there is the issue of how to deal with Russia. Our hopes that relations with Russia would improve and that Moscow would finally fully accept our complete sovereignty and independence after joining NATO and the EU have not been fulfilled. Instead, Russia is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods. At a global level, Russia has become, on most issues, a status-quo power. But at a regional level and vis-a-vis our nations, it increasingly acts as a revisionist one. It challenges our claims to our own historical experiences. It asserts a privileged position in determining our security choices. It uses overt and covert means of economic warfare, ranging from energy blockades and politically motivated investments to bribery and media manipulation in order to advance its interests and to challenge the transatlantic orientation of Central and Eastern Europe.

We welcome the “reset” of the American-Russian relations. As the countries living closest to Russia, obviously nobody has a greater interest in the development of the democracy in Russia and better relations between Moscow and the West than we do. But there is also nervousness in our capitals. We want to ensure that too narrow an understanding of Western interests does not lead to the wrong concessions to Russia. Today the concern is, for example, that the United States and the major European powers might embrace the Medvedev plan for a “Concert of Powers” to replace the continent’s existing, value-based security structure. The danger is that Russia’s creeping intimidation and influence-peddling in the region could over time lead to a de facto neutralization of the region. There are differing views within the region when it comes to Moscow’s new policies. But there is a shared view that the full engagement of the United States is needed.

Many in the region are looking with hope to the Obama Administration to restore the Atlantic relationship as a moral compass for their domestic as well as foreign policies. A strong commitment to common liberal democratic values is essential to our countries. We know from our own historical experience the difference between when the United States stood up for its liberal democratic values and when it did not. Our region suffered when the United States succumbed to “realism” at Yalta. And it benefited when the United States used its power to fight for principle. That was critical during the Cold War and in opening the doors of NATO. Had a “realist” view prevailed in the early 1990s, we would not be in NATO today and the idea of a Europe whole, free, and at peace would be a distant dream.

We understand the heavy demands on your Administration and on U.S. foreign policy. It is not our intent to add to the list of problems you face. Rather, we want to help by being strong Atlanticist allies in a U.S.-European partnership that is a powerful force for good around the world. But we are not certain where our region will be in five or ten years time given the domestic and foreign policy uncertainties we face. We need to take the right steps now to ensure the strong relationship between the United States and Central and Eastern Europe over the past twenty years will endure.

We believe this is a time both the United States and Europe need to reinvest in the transatlantic relationship. We also believe this is a time when the United States and Central and Eastern Europe must reconnect around a new and forward-looking agenda. While recognizing what has been achieved in the twenty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it is time to set a new agenda for close cooperation for the next twenty years across the Atlantic.

Therefore, we propose the following steps:

First, we are convinced that America needs Europe and that Europe needs the United States as much today as in the past. The United States should reaffirm its vocation as a European power and make clear that it plans to stay fully engaged on the continent even while it faces the pressing challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the wider Middle East, and Asia. For our part we must work at home in our own countries and in Europe more generally to convince our leaders and societies to adopt a more global perspective and be prepared to shoulder more responsibility in partnership with the United States.

Second, we need a renaissance of NATO as the most important security link between the United States and Europe. It is the only credible hard power security guarantee we have. NATO must reconfirm its core function of collective defense even while we adapt to the new threats of the 21st century. A key factor in our ability to participate in NATO’s expeditionary missions overseas is the belief that we are secure at home. We must therefore correct some self-inflicted wounds from the past. It was a mistake not to commence with proper Article 5 defense planning for new members after NATO was enlarged. NATO needs to make the Alliance’s commitments credible and provide strategic reassurance to all members. This should include contingency planning, prepositioning of forces, equipment, and supplies for reinforcement in our region in case of crisis as originally envisioned in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

We should also re-think the working of the NATO-Russia Council and return to the practice where NATO member countries enter into dialogue with Moscow with a coordinated position. When it comes to Russia, our experience has been that a more determined and principled policy toward Moscow will not only strengthen the West’s security but will ultimately lead Moscow to follow a more cooperative policy as well. Furthermore, the more secure we feel inside NATO, the easier it will also be for our countries to reach out to engage Moscow on issues of common interest. That is the dual track approach we need and which should be reflected in the new NATO strategic concept.

Third, the thorniest issue may well be America’s planned missile-defense installations. Here too, there are different views in the region, including among our publics which are divided. Regardless of the military merits of this scheme and what Washington eventually decides to do, the issue has nevertheless also become — at least in some countries — a symbol of America’s credibility and commitment to the region. How it is handled could have a significant impact on their future transatlantic orientation. The small number of missiles involved cannot be a threat to Russia’s strategic capabilities, and the Kremlin knows this. We should decide the future of the program as allies and based on the strategic plusses and minuses of the different technical and political configurations. The Alliance should not allow the issue to be determined by unfounded Russian opposition. Abandoning the program entirely or involving Russia too deeply in it without consulting Poland or the Czech Republic can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.

Fourth, we know that NATO alone is not enough. We also want and need more Europe and a better and more strategic U.S.-EU relationship as well. Increasingly our foreign policies are carried out through the European Union – and we support that. We also want a common European foreign and defense policy that is open to close cooperation with the United States. We are the advocates of such a line in the EU. But we need the United States to rethink its attitude toward the EU and engage it much more seriously as a strategic partner. We need to bring NATO and the EU closer together and make them work in tandem. We need common NATO and EU strategies not only toward Russia but on a range of other new strategic challenges.

Fifth is energy security. The threat to energy supplies can exert an immediate influence on our nations’ political sovereignty also as allies contributing to common decisions in NATO. That is why it must also become a transatlantic priority. Although most of the responsibility for energy security lies within the realm of the EU, the United States also has a role to play. Absent American support, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline would never have been built. Energy security must become an integral part of U.S.-European strategic cooperation. Central and Eastern European countries should lobby harder (and with more unity) inside Europe for diversification of the energy mix, suppliers, and transit routes, as well as for tough legal scrutiny of Russia’s abuse of its monopoly and cartel-like power inside the EU. But American political support on this will play a crucial role. Similarly, the United States can play an important role in solidifying further its support for the Nabucco pipeline, particularly in using its security relationship with the main transit country, Turkey, as well as the North-South interconnector of Central Europe and LNG terminals in our region.

Sixth, we must not neglect the human factor. Our next generations need to get to know each other, too. We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania — arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan — have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program. It is incomprehensible that a critic like the French anti-globalization activist Jose Bove does not require a visa for the United States but former Solidarity activist and Nobel Peace prizewinner Lech Walesa does. This issue will be resolved only if it is made a political priority by the President of the United States.

The steps we made together since 1989 are not minor in history. The common successes are the proper foundation for the transatlantic renaissance we need today. This is why we believe that we should also consider the creation of a Legacy Fellowship for young leaders. Twenty years have passed since the revolutions of 1989. That is a whole generation. We need a new generation to renew the transatlantic partnership. A new program should be launched to identify those young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic who can carry forward the transatlantic project we have spent the last two decades building in Central and Eastern Europe.

In conclusion, the onset of a new Administration in the United States has raised great hopes in our countries for a transatlantic renewal. It is an opportunity we dare not miss. We, the authors of this letter, know firsthand how important the relationship with the United States has been. In the 1990s, a large part of getting Europe right was about getting Central and Eastern Europe right. The engagement of the United States was critical to locking in peace and stability from the Baltics to the Black Sea. Today the goal must be to keep Central and Eastern Europe right as a stable, activist, and Atlanticist part of our broader community.

That is the key to our success in bringing about the renaissance in the Alliance the Obama Administration has committed itself to work for and which we support. That will require both sides recommitting to and investing in this relationship. But if we do it right, the pay off down the road can be very real. By taking the right steps now, we can put it on new and solid footing for the future.

[Signed] by Valdas Adamkus, Martin Butora, Emil Constantinescu, Pavol Demes, Lubos Dobrovsky, Matyas Eorsi, Istvan Gyarmati, Vaclav Havel, Rastislav Kacer, Sandra Kalniete, Karel Schwarzenberg, Michal Kovac, Ivan Krastev, Alexander Kwasniewski, Mart Laar, Kadri Liik, Janos Martonyi. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Adam Rotfeld, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Alexandr Vondra, Lech Walesa.

January 11, 2017
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
e-1956
Guest

good letters, while forgetting to name the weak links in eastern and southern europe: orban, poland’s duda, slovakia’s fico, greece’s tsipras, as well as the danger posed by assad, erdogan, hamas, hezbolla, iran!

trackback

[…] Talking about the need for US intervention. Two letters of Central European leaders to Washington: 2009 and 2017 – Hungarian Spectrum […]

Mrozek
Guest

Trump made is clear that the US won’t pay for Europe’s defense and won’t provide manpower. Over 5 thousand American soldiers died in various conflicts since 2000! I have a feeling that US taxpayers (including me) are enthusiastically supporting him in this issue. Why would the US pay for Germany’s defense when at home there is no money to provide health benefits for Americans? The second letter is almost bizarre… Matyas Eorsi and Janos Martonyi on the same page? Nabucco ultimately helps the Iranians and Hungary’s MOL speculative investments in the region… Martonyi is oil lobbyist, he is on the BOD of MOL. At the end… Europe will have to spend more on defense and build a united European army… they might need closer integration, USE – Unites States of Europe? A NATO reform is long overdue….

e-1956
Guest

greed is a bad adviser. we need a streamlined action oriented enlightened cooperation to defend freedom.

webber
Guest

Sure. But “cooperation” has to start with European countries paying the amount for defense that they agreed to pay. All NATO countries agreed to pay 2% of GDP on defense. Very few of them do it. Germany doesn’t. Neither does Hungary. Neither do most NATO countries.
If European countries are not willing to fulfill the promises they made to contribute to NATO, why should American citizens be expected to put up with it?
Cooperation has to go both ways. If NATO is important to Europeans, Europeans should fulfill their promises.

webber
Guest

In other words, e-1956, who is greedy? Americans, who pay much more than their share, or Europeans who refuse to pay even the little amount that they promised?
Perhaps both?

pappp
Guest

Orban will never pay the 2% and the NATO can’t do a thing. Orban knows this well. If Hungary is kicked out so much the better for Orban, he is anyway a fan of Russia and is focused on weakening Western European alliances (only the most delusional can seriously believe that Orban remains in the EU and NATO for anything other than money and the opportunity of working against these organizations from within, for Russia). But of course NATO will not kick Hungary out because it would be too messy and would clearly show that NATO is divided, weakened, wavering etc. and probably terminally irrelevant. If Putin invaded the Baltic Region (it would take less than two days to completely conquer the region but less than a day the ethnic Russian parts) nobody can seriously believe that Europeans or the US would send troops there to fight Russian soldiers face to face (or drop nukes on Russia). NATO is weak already and does not want a messy divorce so they will let Orban do whatever he wants to do just like the EU lets him get away with everything.

webber
Guest

Pappp, you are sadly misinformed about foreign affairs. I can assure you, the US would attack any country that attacks a NATO ally.

The US could quite easily kick Hungary out of NATO.
That would actually make NATO stronger.

But don’t forget – NATO does not give a damn about democratic norms. Democracy and freedom have nothing to do with NATO, which is solely a defense organization. Authoritarian regimes fit fine in NATO (Greece under colonels, Turkey)

webber
Guest

If the United States did not attack any country that attacked a NATO ally, that would be the end of the alliance, and everyone knows it.

If you and some other Hungarians think it is all a joke, then I suggest you gtf out of NATO now. It is deadly serious.

pappp
Guest

Look, I’m absolutely pro NATO but it’s not just me who have doubts believe me. I think the Baltic people or the Polish or the Romanians are not entirely sure that the NATO (especially its European members) would risk lives against the Red Army. If Russia decides to “help fellow Russians who are oppressed by the EU in Estonia” they are happy to sacrifice tens of thousands of people. The Russians just don’t care about he numbers and are happy to sacrifice, and with a good enough media campaign the Russians will be extatic. I have doubts this is the case with British or French or Spanish or even American troops when it’s about helping a few hundred thousand Baltic people on the other end of Europe. I think you put way too much faith in NATO, it’s hanging by a thread. Established dogmas are being questioned everywhere unfortunately.

webber
Guest

Poland and Romania doubt things? Then why have both countries invited American troops to open bases on their territory? Hmmm?
Really, is Hungary so isolated that you haven’t considered that?
Think things through again, please, now that you know there are US troops in those countries.
There are also US troops rotating through all Baltic states.

Have you ever met Pentagon people? I have. Some would welcome confrontation with Russia. The Pentagon is solid.

Now, Trump is the wildcard. A lot of people doubt his commitment to anything at all.

As I said, the scent of impeachment is spreading, slowly.

webber
Guest

Pro Nato, but you don’t want to go to war if another NATO member is attacked?
No more free rides. Clear out.
Non-alignment is a perfectly respectable position. I recommend it to you heartily.

pappp
Guest

I said my feeling is that others wouldn’t want to go to war. That’s all I said.

Btw Hungary probably would provide a small portion of the allied force. Of course if it was up to me I would honor the obligation.

Observer
Guest

Mrozek

You are right theoretically Europe have to spend more on defense and needs closer integration on security, incl. military. European army is a bit far fetched, but they have to work on it.
However, there is no firm political base for the above. They either
1. go through NATO or
2. make some order in the EU (whipping the orban’s and introducing majority voting). Only then can joint military security advance, with or without the renitent. Two tier EU is a probability.

webber
Guest

No, this does not have to go through the EU. It has nothing to do with the EU.
Each NATO country, individually, made a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense. These are agreements between individual countries and NATO.
Some European countries honor that commitment. Most don’t. Whether they do or not has nothing to do with the EU. It is up to those countries, individually.
It is perfectly logical and fair that countries which pay up, or even pay more than their share, should want other countries to pay their share or to leave NATO.

Member

Mrozek:
“Trump made is clear that the US won’t pay for Europe’s defense and won’t provide manpower. Over 5 thousand American soldiers died in various conflicts since 2000! I have a feeling that US taxpayers (including me) are enthusiastically supporting him in this issue.”

I think, from these 5000 soldiers, You can substract those who died during the Iraq war. This war was neither a NATO war nor coverered by UN-resolutions.
You cannot blame Germany for not paying for an illegal war.
Please blame George W. Bush for that.

Anyway, this is not about money!
The NATO-payment can be discussed separetely without giving up principles, e.g. how to handle Putin (sanctions).

Istvan
Guest

Winston as a retired US Army officer I question the claim that the US overthrow of Iraq’s dictatorship under President Saddam Hussein was “illegal.” The United States has never abrogated our War making powers to the United Nations.

The invasion of Iraq was approved by the US Congress in October 2002, it is a formal law, Public Law: No 107-243. Aside from the bogus weapons of mass destruction argument made against Iraq there were about 9 aspects of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution that were in the opinion of a group of retired officers opposing it that were essentially correct. I was among those retired officers by the way.

As a group we testified against the resolution in committee because we believed the invasion would have long term military consequences for the USA and require an extended occupation. We lost the vote 297 to 193 in the House, 77 to 33 in the Senate and we went to war. Once we went to war and Congress authorized it as retired officers we were duty bound to support our nation in that mistaken war. So under the Constitution of the USA it was a fully legal action.

Member

O.K., I actually don’t know what ‘illegal’ means in the case of Iraq war.
The NATO-attac against the serbs in 1999 wasn’t covered by UN security council as well (Russia!) although maybe ‘necessary’ to stop Milosevic and thus avoid more innocent victims.

However, during the Bush presidency the sympathy for the USA went dramatically down in Germany.

Though I am not an intelligence agent, it was totally clear from the beginning, that in the aftermath of 9/11 Bush and his team (Wolfowics, Cheney, later even Colin Powel, whom I never had expected to deliver this stupid show in the UN) just wanted this war and would go in it, no matter if they would get it ‘legal’ or justified.

The ‘evidences’ of the intelligence services about weapons of mass destruction now still have an impact. They give Trump the argument:
“You can’t believe the services of what they say about Putin fiddling into the elections, because of that ‘evidences’ for the Iraq war”.

webber
Guest

Many states have never surrendered their right to declare war at will.
Germany and Japan have lost the right. The United States and Russia haven’t.

Member

Yes, and now the United States is Trump and Russia is Putin.
This is scary.

Ferenc
Guest

Checked the people who signed these letters.

Hungary:
-2 people (Mátyás Eörsi and István Gyarmati) signed both letters
-János Martonyi, the well-known VCP-Pecina* consutant, only 2009 letter

International:
-all signers from former ‘east-block’ countries, except one swede (who signed the 2017 letter)
-only some women signed, almost all coming from the Baltic countries
-2 famous people who signed died in between 2009 and 2017, for me especially Vaclav Havel is dearly missed (remember Charter’77 and the Plastic People of the Universe)

*the latest news (on their own website) from VCP-Pecina, after the selling of Mediaworks to Opimus in 2016.Oct, is that they sold their shareholding in FHB Bank (news from 2016.Dec.09)

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Movie of the swearing of oath by the new borderguards:
https://www.facebook.com/magyaratv/videos/vb.114324688634857/1325298344204146/?type=2&theater
the boys and girls have to stand still for some 19min, before they have to show their respect for the main actor in this movie when he is entering the scene (don’t know they’ll go for an Oscar for his performance)

Ferenc
Guest

A very peculiar point in the above video (26:00-26:30), OV receives the official text from the new borderguards, and when returned to his place he himself immediately changes it with the another text brought by one of his ministers.
Curious how many people will be fired in the coing days for this brutal text change?

Guest

Why would Hungary pay for its own defense when it doesn’t have money enough for building stadiums?

Similar questions can be asked about other European countries.

The authors of the letter to Trump disdain to go into the money question. It is a begging letter anyway. They should write an open letter to the European leaders asking them to pay up.

pappp
Guest

The days of letter writing are over. The signatories should *do* something, anything but writing letters. This isn’t the 1970’s when such letters were still important. Such a letter is no more than a pathetic act of compensation also called a redirection activity. I’m afraid that the letter writers should have to pay well-connected lobbysts and then Trump and his people would listen. Basically Trump and his people can think they can make money by doing business with Putin or they can make money by accepting campaign donations etc. from mainstream CEE politicians. Putin can arrange much bigger profits for Trump, Exxon etc. but the risks are higher, CEE can offer smaller, but more legit money. Orban knows this well, Putin, Igor Sechin know it well. Somehow these letter writers forget how the US influence peddling system works and think they can have political access and influence for free.

webber
Guest

Letter writing: I agree.

I believe the British intelligence services are on the right track with Trump. I guess the French intelligence services are also on a similar track. Perhaps the Swedes also are working on a file to present to McCain.

Slowly the scent of impeachment spreads.

pappp
Guest

I certainly hope the Europeans are better than the authors of that Hack Report which is a joke even for a public domain paper.

webber
Guest

A joke to you, but apparently it has started an FBI and God only knows what other agency investigation.

pappp
Guest

I think you trust institutions too much. The FBI can decide to investigate based on rather flimsy “evidence” as we saw just the other day when Hillary Clinton was investigated a week before election day on the most circumstantial aspect of an already extremely weak case. It’s politics. The American Deep State strikes back, I guess a bit too late. Or maybe not, because I guess the Deep State always preferred the Republicans which will still be the case if Pence takes over. So it was worth it not too do this project earlier. So the FBI can do whatever it wants. What I’m saying is whether the conclusions in that report are logical, clear, the pieces of information (if existing at all) verified etc. etc.

Ferenc
Guest

Pappp I understand your distrust in institutions, have a look here wbout the current Hungarian authoroties and ‘quest’ against corruption:
in Hungarian: https://atlatszo.hu/2017/01/03/feljelentes-elharitas-felsofokon-ezert-nem-vizsgalodtak-a-hatosagok-2016-leggyanusabb-ugyeiben/
translation: http://budapestsentinel.com/featured/hungarian-authorities-not-investigating-suspicious-cases-2016-reports-atlatszo/

wellington
Guest

Don’t hold out too much hope for an impeachment.

Republicans will defend their own and there’s no way they will perform an impeachment spectacle that would punish their own president.

In my view Russia penetrated both the FBI and Congress. That said the Trump political phenomenon at the voter level is economic in nature and is not Russia-related. Russia is just being lucky with Trump and is now reaping the fruits of long years of hard work.

“The House Republican with power to investigate Trump is threatening Trump’s critics instead

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, hasn’t offered even mild criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s many conflicts of interest. But he’s plenty upset with the federal government’s top ethics watchdog, who called out Trump in an unusually public and critical speech on Wednesday….”

webber
Guest

Did you see who released the report on Trump? McCain, a Republican. Have you seen what some other senior Republican senators have said to Trump’s nominees for public office in committee meetings?

I think impeachment is a real possibility.

Remember Nixon. People from his own party turned against him, too.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
An interesting interview with Rev.Gábor Iványi, head of the Hungarian Evangelical Brotherhood, originally aired on Klubrádió on 2016 December 28 and here translated into English. It’s about religion and politics in the current situation.
http://budapestsentinel.com/interviews/gabor-ivanyi-hungary-leads-the-pack-when-it-comes-to-shameful-behavior/
I don’t know, but the original interview may be available on demand on Klubradio.

johndonne
Guest

Instead of confrontation, why not Include Russia into NATO?
Not joking.
It has no reality at this point but theoretically inclusion is better than war.
Putin as a foe is far more dangerous than he were as a friend, because he doesn’t afraid of war.

webber
Guest

It’s not a bad idea, really, and twenty years ago there were serious talks about this in Washington, in NATO headquarters, and in the press. The problem, as it turns out, is that Russia does not want to be part of NATO. At least twenty years ago it did not. I kind of doubt that Putin feels differently about this than Yeltsin. I guess he’s even more allergic to NATO than Yeltsin was.
Six years ago the Moscow Times published a piece on why Russia would never join NATO. You can read it here if you are interested:
https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/5-reasons-why-russia-will-never-join-nato-3105

Ferenc
Guest

For Russia and Putin the only thing acceptable by them/him is when other countries (or the whole NATO) would join them/him. Like a sort of ‘…….. Pact’, don’t think that any NATO-country has interest in that….. Though you never know how OV might develop.

Istvan
Guest
Thanks for posting the letter Eva. It is however completely irrelevant to the strategic thinking of President elect Trump and his team. The letter is completely European focused and Trump’s primary concerns relating to Russia are (1) isolating and containing China as a great military and economic power, (2) rapidly wiping Islamic State off the face of the earth with any and all military means regardless of the collateral damage to the Middle East or the possibility of creating inner generational warfare with the West. The authors of the letter do not seem to understand the global strategy of the Trump administration which has been laid out in front of them. I would add it is simply stunning to me that they appealed to Trump’s slogan make America Great Again by arguing to Trump that Putin does not want American Greatness, but the letter writers do, so defend us please. Trump’s version of greatness is unfortunately good old time imperialism, i.e. of the President Teddy Roosevelt. That President Roosevelt put it simply: “We do not admire the man of timid peace. We admire the man who embodies victorious effort.” As far as understanding Russia’s vision, the letter is largely on… Read more »
Joe Simon
Guest

re: woolfi 7777 & Observer

The Malaysian prime minister called Soros a criminal.
Soros himself admits he is not responsible for the social consequences of his actions.
I thought HS is for discussions not for name callings.

webber
Guest

A criminal is someone who has been prosecuted for his crimes. Until then, we are all presumed innocent.
Being responsible or not being responsible for the social consequences of one’s actions does not make one a criminal.

Guest

Simple Simon probably gets his “info” aka fake news from sites like this:
http://themillenniumreport.com/2016/11/george-soros-international-criminal-wanted-by-nations-around-the-world/
But – as I’ve said before keep a bucket ready because you might want to throw up after reading this crap!

webber
Guest
Guest

Thanks, webber!
Btw that article also has/links to many graphics, among them Visualizations Related to EU Net Operating Budgetary Contribution which shows that the two countries who get the most money from the EU are …

Poland and Hungary of course!

Guest
An “online friend” of mine (also retired US prof) just posted this – very relevant imho! Robert D. Kaplan wrote a book: IN EUROPE’S SHADOW: TWO COLD WARS AND A 30-YEAR JOURNEY THROUGH ROMANIA AND BEYOND His comments on this: Robert D. Kaplan is a quirky writer, but his books contain plenty of insights into the political dimensions of today’s world. Kaplan believes we are in The Second Cold War. He believes the Russians are busy subverting our political system and attacking the European Union from within. “When a country is being subverted, it is not being outfought; it is being out-administered. Subversion is literally administration with a minus sign in front.” Kaplan shows how Russian moves in Eastern Europe are just a prelude to what’s going to develop in the years ahead. Undermining our Election with “fake News” and rumors is just the beginning. Our intelligence agencies seem ineffectual in controlling Russian incursions into hacking and cyber-theft. If you want a heads-up on the political mess we’re going to have to deal with, In Europe’s Shadow gives a pretty good blueprint of Russian hostile intentions. He graded it A- TABLE OF CONTENTS: Maps Prologue: Nabokov’s Room 1. Bucharest 1981… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
Kaplan seems to have a good understanding of the situation with Russia. But as President elect Trump said yesterday during the nationally and internationally reported PR conference: “QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. On that intelligence report, the second part of their conclusion was that Vladimir Putin ordered it because he aspired to help you in the election. Do you accept that part of the finding? And will you undo what President Obama did to punish the Russians for this or will you keep it in place? TRUMP: Well, if — if Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia. Russia can help us fight ISIS, which, by the way, is, number one, tricky. I mean if you look, this administration created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed. If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability.” Of course a non accounting definition of the word “asset” and the one Putin as a leader of the KGB would be familiar with would be “A clandestine source or method, usually an agent.” I suspect Putin laughed… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Istvan, curious about your point of view regarding “this administration (Obama) created ISIS by leaving at the wrong time. The void was created, ISIS was formed.”

Guest

Get hold of this book. It will answer your question.

Sky, Emma (2015). The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq. New York: PublicAffairs.

wpDiscuz