In the midst of a war unleashed by Russia in Eastern Europe, the European Union is at its wits end in dealing with a new Mussolini, the autocratic leader of Hungary, Viktor Orban.
For all intents and purposes, he is a dictator who was admitted into the Europe and NATO under the false pretense of a post-Soviet democracy. Since then, Hungary has received huge amounts of European subsidies while Orban proceeded to emasculate the judiciary system, suppress the free press and create a state monopoly under the umbrella of his party, Fidesz. The new fascists of Hungary control not just the ministries and the bureaucracy, but also the tribunals, theaters, universities, hospitals and the media. Surely Americans understand how a dictatorship works: the Orban clique gets all available contracts, generously financed by the European Union.
On the other hand, there is no censorship in Hungary because all newspapers belong to Viktor’s friends and if you dare to speak out against Fidesz you are out of a job. I know because it was exactly like this in fascist Italy, with the only difference being that the European countries did not finance Mussolini. In truth, they tried to appease him and blandished his regime with the hope of keeping it neutral. But then Benito struck a deal with Hitler and from that moment on Italy went down to an ignominious hell.
Viktor Orban has turned out to be a Mussolini within a circle of democracies and has transformed his country into what is known as an “illiberal democracy.” It is an insult to the concept of democracy but in a large sense also an impudent defiance of the European development toward peace and social values shared on a continent that used to be torn by nationalist explosions and conflicts.
At the present time, Europe is being pushed into a war with Russia that has been trying to engulf the entire country of Ukraine. The Hungarian Mussolini immediately demonstrated the total unreliability of his country in a quick succession of defiance and rejection of European measures to punish Putin. He has given his consent to the embargo of oil on the condition that it does not apply to Hungary, which will continue to receive oil via its pipeline. The ink was barely dry when the Hungarian Mussolini introduced new conditions to the European embargo that exempt Hungary from participating. As an old reliable friend of Vladimir Putin, he put up a ruckus to insure that another Putin buddy, the Russian patriarch Kirill, be taken off of a list of reprisals approved by the members of the European Union member states.
The Union has reached a point where Orban’s captatio benevolentiae toward Putin (in short, the apple polishing) has to stop, in a reprise of the historical damnation of Catilina. It is time for the United States leadership to encourage the European allies to stop Orban’s mischievous behavior in the councils of free and democratic nations. Hungary’s membership in NATO engineered in other times by America cannot be a fig leaf for the egregious betrayal of western values. The Hungarian strong man cannot be tolerated as the leader of a country that is more and more unpredictable and incompatible with the spirit and the letter of the Atlantic community. Europe can do what it must, but the U.S. will have to help.