Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
From a historical perspective, appeasement of tyrannical regimes ended, without exceptions, in personal, national, regional, or global catastrophes. From the expansions of the antediluvian Egyptian and Persian Empires, through the global domination of ancient Rome, the violent confrontations of the Middle Ages as well as the Napoleonic Wars, to the two World Wars of the 20th century, the tactics of engaging in benign diplomatic compromises without a comprehensive strategy of dealing with the core problems of intolerable ambitions by a person or a nation, inevitably resulted in unmitigated violent anarchies.
Presently, NATO and the European Union have to deal with a mini-tyrant among their midst by the name of Viktor Orban, the long-serving Prime Minister of Hungary. Predictably, the leaders of the European Union and successive presidents of the United States of America have made the same Chamberlain’s mistake with Viktor Orban as the then British Prime Minister was guilty of at his meeting with Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany, in 1938. In the so-called Munich Agreement, in exchange for Hitler’s promise that if Chamberlain agrees to cede a part of the then Czechoslovakia the so-called Sudetenland to Germany, Nazi Germany shall make no further demands for land in the European continent. Returning to London, the British Prime Minister declared triumphantly: “My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time…Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.” Of course, the rest is history.
Fast forward to the lasting miserable political, economic, social and moral conditions of Hungary under its Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Politically, Hungary has become an unabashedly ethno-fascist tyrannical country without a meaningful opposition. All the media – the printed press, the electronic television stations as well as the overwhelming numbers of social media – are owned and controlled by Viktor Orban and his lackeys, which incessantly spew debilitating regime propaganda. The economy has only few privileged owners, namely, Viktor Orban’s Strohman Lorinc Meszaros, Viktor Orban’s extended family, his closest associates and their Russian and Chinese buddies. Socially, most Hungarians exist in the tyrant’s created vacuum of lies believing that their country is a democracy. In reality, they vegetate within an evil regime that is irredeemably corrupt to its core and have stolen and embezzled everything movable as well as even immovable properties across Hungary. While depicting himself as the only world champion of peace in Europe, under the guise of protecting the Hungarian people from the consequences of the Russo-Ukrainian war, Viktor Orban added to his absolute powers the permanent condition of state of emergency – just to be sure that no one would challenge his tyranny.
Internationally, don’t be mistaken. Viktor Orban has never been a “Friend of the United States of America.” To wit, he has fought against the European Union as well as the United States of America tooth and nail to impose onerous sanctions on the aggressor Russian Federation claiming that “without the latter’s gas and oil deliveries Europe would face political upheavals and economic ruin,” as if the West and not Russia were the culprit. According to Dr. Andras Simonyi, former Ambassador of Hungary to the United States of America and Hungary’s first NATO Ambassador, currently a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center in Washington DC, Viktor Orban’s ranting about “American Imperialism” is akin to the derogatory terms used by the Soviet and like minded Communists during the Cold War. Elaborating on his statement, Viktor Orban told his audience: “Although no one knows it, 2013 was one of the most important years in recent history. That was the year when Americans began fracking.” Moreover, Viktor Orban reasoned that the Americans now have greater energy independence that they intend to use as a foreign policy weapon. The United States has been trying to force Europe into dependence on American energy for years now. The fact that Americans accuse others of doing the same thing should not lead anyone astray. Economic imperialism explains why the United States is currently pressuring European governments to implement sanctions against Russia. Thus spoke a pro-American and pro-European leader of a member state. Also that much for Tucker Carlson’s and Rod Dreher’s incompetent and corrupt interpretations of Viktor Orban’s exemplary “Illiberalism.” Rejecting diversification and wholly supporting dependence on Russian energy as a clever accomplice to Russia’s attempts at dividing the European Union and NATO, is Viktor Orban’s mission.
The invitation to Viktor Orban to speak at the upcoming CPAC meeting in Dallas, Texas, on August 4, 2022, is a huge mistake. There is no good reason to be associated with Orban’s ideology or his world view. Considering the additional fact that in his most recent speech in Romania, he harked back to the eternal ethno-chauvinistic and anti-Semitic slogans of past Hungarian politicians by evilishly meditating on the purity of the Hungarian blood, Viktor Orban sunk to the rhetorical foundations of the ugly and catestrophic history of national socialism.
Indeed, Viktor Orban’s tyrannical “Illiberalism” is highly destructive for NATO as well as the European Union. His success and the inability of any serious opposition to emerge in Hungary is mainly due to the fact that the majority of Hungarians yearn for an authentical strongman who at least verbally is the propagandist of Hungarian independence and the champion of the people in the middle of a global economic crisis and galloping inflation. Clearly, Viktor Orban’s appeal is more emotional than rational. Yet, emotions can lead more frequently than not to destructive policies. For all these reasons, Viktor Orban cannot be stopped domestically. Therefore, for the sake of the future of NATO and the European Union they collectively must marshall their powers to facilitate the timely demise of the newest tyrant of the Free World.
Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The Hungarian joke about the light bulb goes like this: How many Hungarians does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: Two. One to hold the eel, the other to screw in the hovercraft.
This simple joke illustrates the psycho-pathology of most Hungarians. The inability to spot reality and to adapt to the frequent changes in their place and role in history have been ingrained for many centuries in the national mentality of permanent victimhood. Hungarian enthusiasm for this perceived historical injustice has resulted in catastrophic blindness to the power of skewed ideas that gradually have given rise to deep inferiority complexes. Even more destructively, the dual curse of victimhood and inferiority complexes have created a dearth of empathy within the Hungarian communities and also toward the non-Hungarian entities throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Finally, the intersection between victimhood and lack of empathy, has guided the Hungarian national mentality into a vacuum, in which Hungarians have been told that they would remain exceptional if they stay away from mixing with other non-Hungarian peoples.
Having been seen as being irredeemably victimized, the average Hungarian has viewed all the problems as factors that exist outside of his or her control. Consequently, facing individual or collective challenges, Hungarians have tended to blame others for their difficulties, instead of taking matters into their own hands to find solutions. Thus, the importance of the individual with his or her free agency has diminished and the blame-others-game has prompted them to nurture pseudo-real grievances that, in turn, have given birth to unhealthy personal developments within the entire Hungarian political, social and moral cultures.
When liberation came in 1990 from the four-and-a-half-decade of Soviet military occupation, the Hungarian people were unprepared for national independence and democracy. For the overwhelming majority of Hungarians, getting rid of the Soviet Red Army has meant the alluring possibility of an American lifestyle, in which suddenly everybody would own a big house and would have separate cars for every family member parking in the driveway. When these dreams have failed to come to fruition with alacrity, nostalgia for the predictable days of the former Communist dictatorship has emerged in a very powerful manner. The only person who understood his countrymen’s inability to change course was Viktor Orban, a young Communist, immature, yet with a sufficiently aggressive infatuation for power and money. His message since 1998, when he first became prime minister, has been a simple one: Hungary does not need Westernization. On the contrary, Hungarians should not integrate into the Free World. Real Hungarians should revive the past and use it as a foundation for uniting all Hungarians inside and outside today’s Hungary. Under the banner of his self-proclaimed “Illiberalism,” Hungary has become in the last twelve years a non-assimilating, non-integrating and self-segregating member state of the European Union and NATO.
With his fraudulently manufactured two-third majority in the Parliament, he has centralized politics, economy, education and information by cutting everything into miniscule and confusing pieces, leading to humungous lies, unimaginable degrees of corruption as well as fraudulent identity between the inglorious past and the miserable present devoid of a realistic plan for a livable future. In this manner, Viktor Orban has transformed Hungary into a hopeless and unredeemable country in the middle of the European continent.
In his most recent public appearance in the annual Balvanyos Summer Free University and Student Camping Festival in Tusnadfurdo (Romanian: Baile Tusnad), in Romania, Viktor Orban delivered a speech, in which he claimed that the world has become increasingly polarized within Europe and beyond. Criticizing everybody, including the United States of America as well as the European Union, but hypocritically defending the Russian Federation’s illegitimate and terroristic invasion of Ukraine as understandable from the Kremlin’s perspective, he stated that only Hungary wants real peace, while the West in general is guided by greedy and sinister self-interests to continue supporting Ukraine which cannot win against the mighty Russian military. To add insult to his fallacious description of the Russia-Ukraine war and its consequences, he predicted, in the manner of Putin and Lavrov, that the “declining West” would diminish with its values by 2030 and the world will witness a new world order. Having continued in the same vein for an extended period of time, he declared that those who do not agree with him are on the wrong side of history and will be thrown away by the newly emerging world. Then, turning more devilish in his analysis, he launched into a racist tirade that cunningly resembled the language of the 1930s and 1940s in Germany as well as in Hungary. Pleading for the purity of the Hungarian race, which has been the code word of Jew hatred and the subsequent extermination of six million European Jews by the Germans and their allies in Central and Eastern Europe, he intoned stentoriously that his government will never agree to the mixing of the races that has become accepted in the Western part of the continent.
In Viktor Orban’s La La Land, Hungary has only rights but no obligations. In the same speech, he expounded on the debt the world owes Hungary. He assured his listeners that Hungary will demand to be paid in full for all the services that allegedly he and his government provided for the Free World. Meanwhile, Hungary is on the edge of economic and financial bankruptcy. Clearly, he must be stopped and reminded of the wise dictum of the late President Ronald Reagan: “We don’t have a trillion dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion dollar debt because we spend too much.”
Once again, the European continent is being shaped by a global power struggle between NATO and a gradually declining – yet militarily stubbornly assertive – Russia with renewed imperialistic ambitions. Those in the Kremlin say that the main catalyst has been Washington’s and Brussels’ aggressive push to freeze Russia within its post-1991 borders and, simultaneously, to prevent the latter from meaningfully engaging in the affairs of the “near abroad,” meaning in this context Central and Eastern Europe. On the contrary, leaders of NATO claim that their intention has never been to box Russia in, but to allow the newly sovereign states of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states and Ukraine, to assert their freedom of choice and strengthen their sense of overall security.
From their respective perspectives both parties are correct. Yet, on a higher plane, neither the European Union nor Russia could have long-term stability and prosperity by persistently insisting on digging up the problems of the past in order to reinforce their mutually exclusive narratives. Therefore, notwithstanding all the hysterical rhetoric surrounding the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, two critical considerations stand out. First, the European continent was the self-inflicted victim of two major military confrontations – World War I and World War II – in the first half of the 20th century. The sparks that then torched Europe and the rest of the world were in neither case lit by the Tsarist Russia or the Soviet Union. Second, after 1945, the yearning for national sovereignty and individual freedoms within an institutionally guaranteed international order has yielded unparalleled prosperities throughout Western Europe, North America and South-East Asia. Counterintuitively, in the Soviet Union and in the states of Central and Eastern Europe occupied by the Red Army as well as in mainland China and the former Indo-China, ubiquitous progress was prevented by an arrogant, destructive and incompetent ideology that used the promise of perfect utopia to keep their miserable subjects in permanent slavery. As a result, the politically, economically, financially and morally bankrupt Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist construct collapsed in 1991, leaving behind a vacuum that had to be filled. Thus, contrary to President Putin’s assertion that the greatest tragedy of the 20th century was the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the disappearance of the Soviet Communist Party’s fraudulent despotic regime opened the door for every oppressed state, including Russia, to build a new society based on truth and freedom. Unfortunately, after 1991, Russia first sunk into criminal chaos and then, following the Yeltsin era, to the fallaciously redeeming escape of Putin’s mild authoritarianism that, again, has evolved in today’s despotic dictatorship.
Within NATO, in spite of the usual disagreements about tactics, the resolve to contain Russia’s eponymous strategy of military imperialism is beyond controversy. Equally, above discussion within NATO is the belief that President Putin is more a gambler as opposed to the creator of a stable and prosperous society, in which the people’s sovereignty and the rule of law reign supreme. The symbolic Russian bear of many centuries was restored to its mythical heights by the military occupation and subsequent annexation of the Crimea in 2014. Then, not being content with breaching the agreements guaranteeing the inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine, Putin ordered an all out attack of eastern Ukraine, resulting in the illegal occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This Ukrainian adventure was presented inside Russia and to the world as a defensive reaction to save the old Russian civilization from the Russophobic assault of the semi-Westernized Ukrainians. In reality, however, it was a gamble based on Putin’s belief that Ukraine would collapse and her Western defenders would do nothing to reverse the illegal occupation of Ukrainian territories. Clearly, Putin’s gamble in Ukraine seemingly was a low risk affair considering his military campaign and illegal occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia of the sovereign state of Georgia since 2008.
The most important lesson for the United States of America and its allies to draw from what has happened in the former territories of the Soviet Union thus far is that a grand bargain with Putin’s Russia is impossible. With a historically weak economy, a hopelessly corrupt political establishment and an autocratic political regime devoid of meaningful ideas, while relying on appeals to raw nationalism as well as the subservient orthodoxy of the Russian Orthodox Church for legitimacy, Russia will always respond to the logic of strength and force alone. Therefore, only strength and the willingness to use that strength if need be, is the only message that the gambler Putin understands.
For all these reasons, Putin’s ranting about Russia’s “red line,” his outrageous ultimatums to NATO and separately to the United States of America about the latter’s “expansionism” and his irresponsible threats of outright invasion, must be firmly and unequivocally rejected. Corresponding to this dangerous situation that Putin himself created, is his true personality which does not match the widely popularized image of a cool-headed, disciplined former KGB officer. In actuality, the more he rules Russia the more the real Putin emerges – a man in whom no one has confidence and a man who cannot be respected – because of his unbridled ambition and sick megalomania. Thus, the conclusion is unmistakable – genuinely peaceful and productive cooperation can only exist between parties that both domestically and internationally are guided by the respect for the sovereignty of nations and ruled uncompromisingly by the rule of law.
Clearly, as far as foreign policy is concerned, Russia is again at a crossroads. Putin’s dilemma is whether to let NATO expand freely or take up arms against it? Yet, this dilemma of Putin’s is compounded by an equally complex conundrum at home. Strangely, it appears that neither Putin nor his advisors have understood the significance of the problems caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet version of Communism/Socialism failed abysmally, the alternative solution was Westernization. However, in the eponymous struggle between the minority Westernizers and the majority adherents of Russophilia, the latter carried the day. For this reason, today’s Russia is still radically different in its institutions and culture from the West. In order to stay in power, Putin had to adapt himself to the old imperial official nationality discipline of historic Russia, namely, to Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality. The result is that Putin had to assume a schizophrenic personality – he has been the eternally revolting autocrat par excellence and the obedient servant simultaneously. Accordingly, during his initial two terms in office, he was considered to be a genius and a hero. Presently, in opposition to this exalted status, he appears to act like a bumbling amateur who lost his sound judgment and mental balance. This Sisyphean struggle with himself means that Putin no longer knows who he is and what he represents. What remains of his more sober self is a cunning autocrat and a miserable former hero. This contradictio in terminis, this critical oxymoron, has dominated Putin’s political career after 2012, to the detriment of Russia as well as the rest of the world.
Woefully, Putin’s chief counterpart within NATO is American President Joe Biden. Indisputably suffering from a grave case of dementia, he personifies more a Doofus in Chief than a Commander in Chief. Having been elected under extremely suspicious circumstances in November 2020, and having assembled a largely incompetent cabinet, his presidency has been falling to pieces with the alacrity of an intercontinental missile. Since his administration is ruled by a random collection of irreconcilable and utterly failed extreme Leftist ideologies and not by sound policies, the Biden presidency is a ship without rudder or sails that has already begun to founder. This maddening state of affairs in the United States of America is unprecedented in the Republic’s history, for it is the most troubling instance when the question of the legitimacy of presidential powers has really arisen. The emergence of an extreme minority’s tyranny on the land of the free, is suddenly a not so distant possibility. Under a gravely demented president, the United States of America has entered the age of undemocratic usurpation of political, economic, financial, cultural and moral powers.
Into this mutual disorder has entered again the sovereign state of Ukraine with its chaotic history and culture. Following a short but glorious history from the 9th to the 13th centuries, the Kievan or Kyivan Rus was conquered by the Mongols Hoards in the 1240s. After the middle of the 14th century the lands that comprise today’s Ukraine were ruled by the Mongols, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland and the Crimean Khanate. A rebellion by the Cossacks in 1648, again partitioned the same territories. The partition of Poland at the tail end of the 18th century gave what is Ukraine today to the Habsburgs and the Russian Tsars. The 1917 Bolshevik power grab in Russia resulted in the Ukrainian-Soviet War between 1917-1921, which led to the integration of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic into the newly formed Soviet Union. In the 1930s forced Russification and ruthless oppression by Moscow decimated the Ukrainian population. During World War II and after, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army unsuccessfully attempted to regain Ukrainian independence.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, opened the door for Ukrainian independence. Yet, independence has not ended the turbulence in Ukrainian history. During the first decade-and-a-half, Ukraine’s governments evolved into crime syndicates headed by former Communist Party potentates. The so-called Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 brought to power Viktor Yushchenko, who only lasted for four years. His successor, Viktor Yanukovich, had to face another violent uprising against his presidency in November 2013. The so-called Euromaidan was the second revolution against government corruption, gross violation of human rights and Yanukovich’s refusal to sign the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement. Also dubbed the Revolution of Dignity, it resulted in Yanukovich’s flight to Russia. In June 2004, a businessman by the name Petro Poroshenko was elected president. He remained in office until May 2019. During his presidency, Russia annexed the Crimea and occupied the Donbas region. Internally, his administration’s corruption revived the ever present political, moral and intellectual disorder of Ukrainian societies. The great reconstruction that he promised in his campaign never materialized. Instead, Ukraine sunk even deeper into the bottomless swamp of autocracy and corruption. On so many occasions during its troubled history, Ukrainian society had to be saved again. This putative savior of the state was found in the person of Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky, a former actor and comedian, on May 20, 2019.
President Zelensky is the product of the Ukrainian people’s utter desperation and their collective disappointment with the corrupt political and business establishments. Hence, he is the first truly amateur politician in Ukraine’s modern history. He is also the first Jewish President in a country that has been deeply anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, his tragedy has been that he, as an amateur politician, was asked to make great decisions. Another misfortune of his is the painful fact that the majority of the Ukrainian people and, therefore, Ukrainian society, lack a sense for universal and individual principles. Thus, in a nation that has never practiced democratic politics, President Zelensky has been asked to govern as a constructive leader espousing democratic principles. His only practical solution to this almost irreconcilable dilemma has been his faint attempts to govern by executive fiat, through administrative ruling. Thus, the feeling that the Ukrainian people are ruled once again by dishonest politicians, who are hell bent to circumvent democratic politics and who cannot be held to account, has surely contributed to his loss of popularity and the accompanying anger and disappointment.
From the viewpoint of the average Ukrainian, the distinction between fraudulent government and corrupt oligarchs sounds again as an old story that has been the subject of so many irreverent jokes throughout the country. Thus, what is left for the freedom-loving Ukrainians is their patriotism that might spill into extreme nationalism. Matched by the same Russian feelings, the Ukrainian-Russian confrontation could blossom into a toxic mix of violent catastrophe.
Meanwhile, politicians of all ranks, nationalities and persuasions, egged on by a completely incompetent and irresponsible media, have taken stands for and against the parties involved in and issues discussed concerning the Ukraine Question. Since these statements and actions have been neither minimally constructive nor promisingly creative, together they only deserve brief summaries. To begin with the Russians, naturally all the blame goes primarily to Washington and secondarily to the European Union as well as Kiev. These enemies of Russia and even the Ukrainian people have been determined from 1991 on to turn Ukraine into a Western puppet against the peace loving Russian state and its people. As proof of their accusations they have cited the Orange Revolution, which, according to their narrative, was planned in Washington and executed in Kiev by the American CIA and its local agents. More emotionally, they point to the Euromaidan, which in their narrative was a coup d’etat against the legitimately elected pro-Russian president. The illegality of this “counterrevolution,” created a dangerous situation for the Russian ethnic minority throughout Ukraine. Thus, Russia’s intervention on behalf of its kins was not only justified but also necessary to prevent a bloody civil war. As Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu stated, Russia’s military actions in Crimea were undertaken by forces of the Black Sea Fleet were justified by “threat to lives of Crimean civilians” and danger of “takeover of Russian military infrastructure by extremists.” As far as the occupations of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are concerned, their so-called People’s Republics declared independence from Ukraine as a result of fraudulent status referenda in May 2014. Immediately thereafter, the two fake-states merged to form the short-lived Confederation of Novorossiya. Following some unserious attempts to entice Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to recognize the new “state,” the confederation of Novorossiya died an inglorious death on the account of absolute disinterest even by the Kremlin’s staunchest allies.
Most recently, the entire Russian political establishment, led by President Putin, have declared that, as far as Moscow is concerned, Ukraine is not a sovereign state, because Kiev does not have the luxury of choosing between Russia and the West. Thus, if Ukraine refuses to abandon its desire to join the European Union and NATO, Russia will prevent it from exercising its sovereignty, if needed by military force. Using a blatantly false historical narrative that utilizes the myths of “Slav Blood Brotherhood” and the “Great Patriotic War’” of World War II, Putin has repeatedly emphasized Russia’s sacred mission to reunite Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine under the joint banner of Orthodoxy, Autocracy and Nationality. Accordingly, on July 12, 2021, Putin penned an article titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.” In it, he stated that Russians, Belorussians and Ukrainians historically are “one people” and this fact overrides the freedom of the Ukrainian people to choose.
On the Western part of the European continent and in North America, all member states of NATO have shown remarkable and almost unparalleled unity in their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. Collectively they know that they have no other alternative but to ensure that Russia does not invade Ukraine. If the member states of NATO do not want to witness a new international imbalance created jointly by China and Russia, they cannot submit their states and their organization to the unlawful blackmail of Moscow. They also know that they cannot repeat their toothless performance following the invasion and annexation of the Crimea. The mirror-image of their shadow-vision then would be the illusory belief in a Russia that occasionally might be an adversary but not an enemy of the rest of Europe and North America. They finally realized that the roots of the most recent crisis can be found within Russia and Putin’s inability to differentiate between realities and wishful thinking. The latter is mired in a shadowy world view, in which imaginary theories prevent him from according due reverence for facts. Thus, he has concealed his individual greed and political ambition under the cloak of seductive nativism and populism. The result is that Russia is a miserable wreck. Weak institutions, politically incompetent and economically illiterate politicians, over dependence on natural resources and moribund industries, unabashed corruption, and dogged diregard for domestic and foreign market realities, have caused severe economic decline and countless political tragedies. Russia’s catastrophes have been self-inflicted. The rivalry will continue as long as Putin and his colleagues believe that NATO and the European Union are not united in their opposition to Russian military revanchism.
The overarching reality is that neither Russia nor Ukraine could gain stability without maintaining peace in their bilateral relations. Stability is also the most important precondition for long overdue domestic political, economic, legal and social reforms in both states. If Presidents Putin and Zelensky are forced to fight daily for keeping their respective states in a minimal state of normal existence, they would not be able to carry out meaningful reforms and would also fail in their efforts to inspire confidence in the international community toward their respective administrations. This requirement applies in particular to Russian President Putin. Unless President Putin can convince the leaders of NATO and the European Union that he would be a reliable partner in maintaining peace and stability in Europe and Asia as well, Washington and Brussels would not be able to look upon his ethno-revanchist militarism kindly. The ball, therefore, is in Putin’s court. Having maneuvered himself in a corner, he must extricate himself from it in order to avoid domestic chaos and international anarchy. Otherwise, unpredictable disorder will be made permanent in the relationship between the West and Russia. To accomplish such a result, President Putin must give up being a gambler and stop striving to attain goals that are beyond his and his state’s realistic abilities. President Putin must also remember that the abuse of force has historically been more lethal to those who used it than those who became its victims.
On the other hand, NATO and the European Union must fight for a world, in which the new balance of power will not lead to a nuclear catastrophe. In this quest, one reaction must be avoided – to become a prey to an irrational and ubiquitous panic. This again will demand intellect, courage and perspicacity. Finally, there will be neither permanent peace nor an enduring balance of power in Europe and beyond until each and every state can exercise its full sovereignty under the auspices of international and regional organizations and the rule of international law.
The skyjacking of the four passenger planes by nineteen Al- Qaeda terrorists in the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, should have been looked upon as a wake-up call for an objective, emotion free reckoning. As with the destructive suicidal crimes of the past by fanatical Muslim terrorists, the evil acts in Mannhatan, New York City, in Arlington, Virginia, and in the field off a reclaimed strip mine in Stonycreek, near Indian Lake and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, too, the writing on the proverbial wall had been around for almost an entire millennium.
In the Quran, which, according to the Islamic faith contains the words of God (Allah) and therefore cannot be altered by men (Q6:115), Jihad, the holy war against the Unbelievers, meaning all of mankind except those who accept Islam, is referred to at least hundred sixty four times. Conversely, the word “Salam”, meaning peace, cannot be found even once in the Quran. Yet, the world’s understanding of Islam has, over time, been beaten down into the most benign myth of ineffective semi-intellectual self-deception. In reality, Islam, unlike many other faiths across the globe, is an aggressively proselytizing religion that strives for exclusive spiritual world domination.
The political message to the American people as well as the world at large was conveyed by then President George W. Bush in his speech to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001. After praising the bipartisan resolve of both Houses of Congress and the nation, he spoke of “an act of war against our country.” Then, posing the question “Who attacked our country?” President Bush defined Al Qeada as a part of “a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations” whose members “practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism.” Then, upping his erroneous judgement of Al Qeada, he intoned thus: “The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying in effect, to hijack Islam itself.” Using the adjective “fringe” and combining it with the dictum that “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,” President Bush provided a strategically deceptive analysis of the overall situation within the world of Islam, in which disparate armed groups, contrasting tribes and clans with unconnected loyalties, as well as populations without real sense of patriotism, who knew nothing about the notion of democracy were vying for absolute power. Addressing Muslims throughout the world, he said: “We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.” Again, his illusory description of the political and spiritual state of affairs in the world of Islam did not clarify anything. On the contrary, it exacerbated the ubiquitous chaos and collapse of state authority across the world of Islam. Finally, he declared a worldwide war on “every terrorist group of global reach” until it “has been found, stopped and defeated.” A promise as enormous as irresponsible. Believing that an all encompassing military campaign would lead to a radical transformation of personal mentalities and societal structures in the world of Islam was nothing short of spilling political oil on the general discontent.
Thus, President Bush’s speech that attempted to be a political high wire act between the United States of America’s geopolitical interests and domestic reassurances almost completely missed the mark because of the inherent characteristics of the Quran as a religious maximum as well as the political limitations of the governments in every Islamic state with their multiethnic compositions. Similarly, Southeast Asia and the Middle East have historically been the violent theatre of radically opposite great power, national, ethnic, tribal and clanish interests. The end effect of the speech has been a half-hearted and conveniently vague declaration of a global war on Islamic terrorism moderated by the American people’s lack of knowledge of Islam and its political influence in faraway regions as well as the political and military bueraucracies’ institutional unpreparedness for dealing with crimes of this scale. Consequently, his attempts for revenge in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Obama’s equally incompetent approaches in Syria, Libya and Iran, and President Trumps errant policies of quick extrication from twenty years of entanglements combined have contributed to the shameful chaos in Washington, D.C.’s foreign policies. Finally, to add a totally negative national inspiration to the history of 9/11 and American traditions, President Bush’s recent speech at the Flight 93 memorial service only demonstrated the limitations of his underperforming intellect when he compared the undefined group of “U.S. extremists” of January 6, 2021, to the foreign terrorists who attacked America twenty years ago: “We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within…” While not explaining how he came to such a convoluted and one-sided conclusion, he continued attacking domestic and foreign extremists who “disdain pluralism,” “disregard human life,” and “defile national symbols.” Again, by opportunistically politicizing the war on terrorism, Presidents Bush and Obama poured oil on the fire of violent extremism across the globe, instead of extinguishing it.
The modern day involvement of the West with Afghanistan has started with the so-called First Anglo-Afghan War, known by the British as the Disaster in Afghanistan, and transpired between 1839 and 1842. In this case, Great Britain foolishly intervened in a succession dispute between two Emirs. The British supported the former Emir Shah Shujah from the Durrani clan, whom they installed upon capturing Kabul in August 1839. When the intervention turned into a permanent occupation and British tolerance for the locals’ way of life metamorphosed into their attempt to Westernize the various tribes and clans, the latter revolted. To add idiotic insult to political injury, the British appointed William Hay Macnaghten, a former judge in a small town in Ulster, Ireland, to be their chief representative to Kabul. With no knowledge or understanding of the local culture, he succumbed to the prevailing culture of corruption and flaunted his desire to live the life of a wealthy aristocrat. No wonder that the dissimilar Afghan tribes and clans united in 1841 in a global resistance against the British. When the British realized that their presence was strategically futile, they embarked on a retreat from Afghanistan in 1842. By January 13, 1842, the main British Indian force was completely annihilated except a single British doctor that was left alive intentionally to tell the story of the British humiliation. Regardless of Great Britain’s abysmal failure to secure Afghanistan as a buffer against the expansionist Russian Empire, two more British-Afghan Wars followed between 1878-1880, and 1919-1921, with similar results. After independence in 1921, Zahir Shah became king of the Afghanistan monarchy in 1933. In 1973, the former Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud Khan, a cousin of the king, overthrew his cousin with the help of the Soviet Union. As a result, the new ruler abolished the monarchy and named himself the President of the newly minted Republic of Afghanistan. Since the new president betrayed the Kremlin and Afghanistan’s home grown Communists, he was summarily killed in a Communist coup in 1977. Infightings among the rival leaders of the Afghan Communist Party and the obviously anti-Islamic ideology of the Soviet Union led to the birth of a guerilla movement called the Mujahadeen across Afghanistan. In 1979, the then American Ambassador Adolph Dubs was murdered in Kabul. Following additional assassinations of leading Afghan Communists, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. A war of liberation against the Soviet Union ensued that ultimately led to the withdrawal of the Soviet Red Army from the country in 1990. In 1995, the fractured Mujahideen were challenged and replaced by the Taliban. Again, Afghanistan faced a civil war among the various ethnic groups. The Taliban’s ruthless Islamism resulted in their turning Afghanistan into a terrorist heaven. And then September 11, 2001 happened.
Understandably, throughout the 1990s as well as in 2001, the peoples of Afghanistan again were in an extremely difficult quagmire. Their homeland was ruled by a fanatical religious minority of the Deobandi sect with deep roots in the Pashtun/Durrani ethnic minority. Clearly, the ruling Taliban was incapable of carrying out meaningful reforms without fatally undermining their despotic rule. Any move toward secularism would have meant democratization that, in turn, would have assured the emergence of political movements and parties, which would have ended the Pashtun dominance over the state. Thus, in light of the history, culture and the ethnic composition of Afghanistan, any challenge to the despotic Taliban regime was strongly burdened by the limitations that have been inherent from time immemorial within the country.
Moreover, Afghanistan has been situated in the flashpoint of various strategic interests. For this reason, any change in the existing strategic balance or imbalance, such as an intervention, would assuredly have resulted in interference from other concerned parties. Afghanistan borders to the north on Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, on Iran to the west, on Pakistan to the east and south, as well as on a small border section with China and India to the northeast. The country is somewhat larger than France and only slightly smaller than the state of Texas. Its geography alternates between mountains and deserts. Its population is diverse. Afghanistan, with its more than fourteen ethnic groups, many more tribes and clans, has historically been a fragmented country, in which no ethnic group has had a majority. Therefore, Afghanistan has always been the land of strong minorities that have fought each other incessantly. Regionally, the war between the majority Sunni and the minority Shi’a religious sects has always been superimposed over the political, economic, religious and cultural disagreements. Finally, all these conflicts have led back to the confrontation between the United States of America, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
In light of this strategic framework, the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations should have demonstrated more skepticism vis-a-vis the Afghan anti-Taliban opposition and potential domestic allies’ political abilities and basic loyalties. What followed in reality was a two-decade long effort to create an expansive dissemination of Western values of democracy and human rights in a failed state, in which the population mainly craved order and stability. Under such circumstances, the clueless Bush administration declared its policy of nation building in a country, in which there was no Afghan nation per se. No wonder that in the absence of a strong central government violence multiplied and the forces of NATO had to function as an occupying military and police force. This, in turn, strengthened the rich allotment of Jihadist forces that the Western powers tried to isolate by pouring monies mindlessly and incontrollably into the bottomless pit of established Afghan corruption. At the end, Western gullibility and pervasive as well as entrenched corruption doomed the West’s effort of nation building to spectacular failure.
The curtain on the final act of the twenty year long Afghan war was lowered on August 31, 2021, by the idiotically inept and unprofessional Biden administration. President Biden, his Secretary of State Blinken and his Secretary of Defense Austin will surely remembered by history as perhaps the most arrogantly stupid bureaucrats of American history. The chaotic withdrawal of American forces, not coordinated with the Afghan government and the allies, will forever live in infamy. Historically, good must be defended and evil must be fought. However, doing both in a coordinated and disciplined manner requires clearheadedness and complex competence. The Wilsonian missionary fanaticism of making the world safe for democracy must be reformulated and reformed to mirror the discombobulated complexity of a world, in which almost everybody has been chasing an unattainable version of utopia. The moral outrage over global injustice and inequality must not displace sober analysis. The United States of America must champion good and fight evil by clearly distinguishing between friends and foes. To accomplish such an objective analysis, America will need a more educated citizenry and a more committed civil service to unideologically defend and promote the Union’s national as well as international interests.
Clearly, since the end of 2001, the United States of America’s policies toward the world of Islam has been hesitatingly opaque, and as a result, horrifying. The results were the so-called Arab Spring, the emergence of ISIS and the resurgence of the Taliban as well as Al Qaeda. Corruption and glaring incompetence on both sides of the conflict left the greater Middle East and SouthEast Asia in the worst situation they were before 2001. Instead of gradual Westernization, in both regions Islamic extremists became stronger, while the states, with few exceptions, metamorphosed into even more unstable and corrupt political entities. The American and West European strategic incompetence and foolishness the peoples of the greater Middle East and SouthEast Asia are hostages of police states and ruthless Jihadist groups and organizations. In their demoralized state, most of these peoples have chosen the police state. For these reasons, the world of Islam will firmly remain in the orbit of unfreedom and hopeless stagnation.
As a general in the Union Army and “the first modern general” according to B.H. Liddell Hart, William Tecumseh Sherman opined that war is too serious a matter to leave to soldiers. After World War I, the then French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau agreed with him by saying that war is too important to be left to the generals.
Conversely, the main antagonist of the 1964 comedy, Dr. Strangelove, Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper stated that “war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.”
Respecting the 21th century Afghanistan, all three have been right. Starting with President Ronald Reagan and continuing with Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and most recently Joe Biden, have failed to protect American interests in Afghanistan and beyond. They collectively have had zero understanding of Afghan history, mentality and the people’s blind devotion to Islam.
Yet, Afghan history has been as complex as christal clear in its simplicity. Its complexity is due to its multiethnic character. The close to forty million Afghans, which include Pashtuns, Hazaras, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Nuristanis, Aimaq Turkmen, Balochis and a number of lesser tribes and clans, have been fighting each other since time immemorial for domination. As a result, the notion of true nationalism in Afghanistan has been nonexistent. Its simplicity is marked by the fact that nearly hundred percent of its ethnically diverse population are Muslims whose unifying rallying cry for the faithful has been summarized in two Arabic words: “Allahu Akbar” – “God is greater.” These two words of supreme religious article of faith for all Muslims succeeded to unify all Afghans against the British in 1919, forged a fighting unity among the several Mujahedeen organizations to evict the Soviet Red Army in the 1980s, and was the overwhelming reason for the Talibans’ victory against the Soviet-backed Najibullah regime in 1995.
Clearly, the most important lesson for all foreigners in Afghanistan has been that sovereignty cannot be bestowed by men in government – only Allah is sovereign. Only Allah can transfer his absolute and inherent powers over the believers to mortals. This requirement, coupled with the religious mentality of “In shaa Allah,” namely “God Willing,” frees the Muslims of personal responsibility, which again belongs exclusively to Allah. The second, more secular notion is that Afghanistan cannot be ruled centrally. Therefore, Afghanistan’s current constitution that was inspired by the American neoconservatives, has been unrealistic from the start. Thirdly, Afghanistan cannot be conquered by guns and, more importantly, cannot be modernized with the assistance of foreign militaries. Fourth, as long as the majority of the Afghans would not internalize at least the basic democratic principles, fundamental changes would not occur in this deeply conservatively religious country. And finally, nation building could come only from within and not from the outside as an anti-Islamic secular dictum.
Today, after the collapse of the United States of America’s almost three trillion dollars’ and three thousand dead soldiers’ nineteen-year adventure to Afghanistan, what kind of prospect does this country have? Under the radically revivalist Deobandi Talibans, this school of Islam has a chaotic, and therefore ineffective past, and an equally unpromising future. Yet, it is the dominant school of Islamic thought within the largest tribe the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, namely, south and east Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Albeit deriving their legitimacy to rule from Allah, the Talibans’ claim to absolute powers have never been recognized by the non-Pashtun majority. For this reason, they cannot bring peace, stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. On the contrary, the Talibans’ second attempt to rule the entire Afghanistan is unrealistic and doomed to bloody failure.
Tragically, the projected failure of the Taliban will certainly have international repercussions. If China, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia believe that they could fill the strategic vacuum left by the United States of America, they collectively will surely be disappointed. Afghanistan under the Taliban will definitely return, sooner or later, to its terroristic policies abroad. Defined by them as permanent Jihad against the unbelievers, it will affect all four above-mentioned states and beyond, such as Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the United States of America.
Consequently, only an international cooperation of all states, in addition to the four above-mentioned countries, the United States of America and India, could stop Afghanistan under the rule of the Talibans to again become the scourge of the international community. In this manner, containment coupled with gradual modernization, and not occupation must be the correct strategy to slowly turn the Afghans away from their anti-foreign mentality toward peaceful collaboration, and possibly even integration, with the rest of the world.
By Miklos K. Radvanyi
Historically, the fate of what has been called only since the last decade of the 20th century the sovereign state of Ukraine has been depended mostly on the whims of the major European powers. Moreover, if one would like to separate the myths from the facts, Ukraine has never occupied a fixed geographical area or has been a political, economic, and cultural entity with well-defined national uniqueness. Thus, when independence was declared on August 24, 1991, the new state of Ukraine has lacked and is still devoid of a mature national identity.
On the other hand, in the ubiquitous euphoria of the relatively peaceful break up of the Soviet Union in the West, irrational optimism, coupled with blinding emotions, prevented well-meaning politicians, self-appointed experts, and the general public to weigh with due seriousness the enormous challenges that this newly minted state will and must face. In the intervening three decades, and before Ukraine could have attained a sufficient degree of national character, successive governments have brought it dangerously close to becoming an irredeemably failed state.
Meanwhile, after almost three years of relentless pursuit of the mirage of President Trump’s impeachment, the Democrats in the House of Representatives have latched theirs and their party’s political future onto the so-called “Ukrainian quid pro quo.” Claiming that in the ominous telephone call President Trump blackmailed Ukrainian President Zelensky by withholding almost half a billion dollars earmarked for military assistance in exchange for compromising information on Joe’s and Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian activities, and thus explicitly solicited the latter’s support for his reelection, the President committed an impeachable offense under Article II, section 4 of the constitution. To add additional legal insult to a clearly political injury, the Democrats stated that they reserve the right to charge President Trump with more crimes of their liking.
While almost all of the Democrats and many like minded citizens consider this development in Washington, D.C. a potential victory for the rule of law, such assessment misses the mark. The same politicians who accuse President Trump of endangering national security, remain strangely nonchalant about the precarious domestic and international conditions of Ukraine, the future of the United States’ interests in the European theatre, and the global dimensions of three decades of erroneous policies toward one of the largest European countries situated strategically between Russia and the rest of the continent.
To start with, Ukraine is in extremely deep political, financial, economic, social, and cultural crises. Therefore, President Zelensky intends simultaneously to make peace with Russia, to carry out wholesale reforms of the economy, to fight corruption, to petition international financial organizations and donors for bailouts, and to bring his country closer to NATO and the European Union.
For the United States of America, the desirable outcome would be successes for President Zelensky personally and his administration generally on all those fronts. Here, it is important to note that prior to 2016, during President Obama’s eight years, the near consensual view among Ukrainian experts was that support for Ukraine’s superficial stability was paramount. For this reason, President Obama and his administration did nothing to move successive administrations in Kyiv to abandon the ultra nationalist policies against ethnic minorities, the arrogant criminal corruption of politicians, and the rapid impoverishment of the society. Yet, President Obama’s passivity created an American political vacuum toward Ukraine that, in turn, invited Vice President Biden to exploit the corruption ridden Ukrainian political and economic systems for his and his family’s unethical and even criminal enrichment. More importantly, because they did not comprehend the depth of the ultra nationalism and the all encompassing nature of the corruption, the Obama administration treated Ukraine like a normal state. Not having a coherent Ukrainian policy, the Obama administration in general and Vice President Biden in particular showed their collective incompetence and institutional delusion of Ukraine.
Now that the Democrats use and abuse Ukraine as a domestic political football, what happens next is an open question. Will the Trump administration be able to fashion a coherent Ukrainian policy amidst the relentless negative campaign of the opposition? Likewise, will Russia exploit the self-generated American paralysis to deepen Ukraine’s misery? Will the decisively defeated ultra nationalist Poroshenko minority provoke a civil war to nullify the results of the spring elections? As a result, will Ukraine again be dominated by the old criminal enterprise rejected recently so decisively by the voters?
For the United States of America and especially for the Trump administration, the objective ought to be clear: President Trump must state firmly that the United States of America will not compromise its fundamental values. The Ukrainian question for him is not a fight over power against the Democrats but a matter of importance about democracy and prosperity. Ultra nationalism and unwarranted cultural fanaticism will not be tolerated. Equally, the endemic corruption must be eliminated decisively and moral purity shall be reestablished. For, if corruption and immorality will continue, Ukraine will disappear as an independent nation. Finally, in direct opposition to President Obama, President Trump must emphasize to President Zelensky that he is not interested in whether he is loved or hated in Ukraine. On his part, he will act with honor toward Ukraine. In turn, President Zelensky and Ukraine can count on President Trump’s assistance if they respect the new Realpolitik of the United States of America.
Like the supernatural firebird of ancient civilizations, Barack Hussein Obama, an obscure state senator from Illinois, burst into the troubled firmament of American politics in 2004 with the message of national rebirth and renewal. In practice, however, having been elected in the same year a United States Senator, he distinguished himself as a lazy and intellectually nondescript legislator.
Meanwhile, the long-running two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the looming decline in the United States’ fiscal and economic situation and the perceived passivity of the Bush administration in 2007 and 2008, galvanized the opposition against the alleged mismanagement of the nation’s domestic and international affairs by the Republican Party. The majority of Americans wanted change. The echoing of these sentiments, coupled with the promise of an easy redemption for the entire nation from a deepening crisis, unexpectedly propelled then Senator Obama to the presidency in November 2008. Continue reading
History is the never-ending quest of men for the attainment of determinative powers. In a democracy, however, the powers of elected officials are limited; presidents, congressmen, local office holders are only temporary representatives of the sovereign people. The main challenge of democracies, therefore, is the tension between the all too human temptation of politicians to think that they are masters of the present as well as the future and the peoples’ desire to guard and maintain their sovereignty. Continue reading
by Dr. Miklos K. Radvanyi
The People’s Republic of China appears to be a normal nation-state on the surface. Yet, alarmingly close to this tranquil surface, society is in a volcanic turmoil. Total political control by the party, the state and local authorities is becoming increasingly unacceptable. Opinion surveys regularly conducted by universities and the printed media have found that almost 50 percent of the Chinese are unhappy with their living conditions. While giant state-owned and state-controlled enterprises in industries that the party and the military considers “strategic” prosper, private and joint public-private entities are steadily subjected to official meddling and harassment. Continue reading
Regardless of their shades, dictatorships universally worship might. For this fundamental reason, the precarious existence of every revolutionary regime rests on two essential criteria – veneration of those who command power and faith in their ability to perpetuate the status quo. Having attained absolute power by force in 1949, the Communist Party of China had governed the most populous nation on earth by the myth of the infallibility of either a single individual or a seemingly homogeneous leadership. For almost three decades, the centralization of political, economic, social and cultural powers by an inexperienced, incompetent and self-appointed minority had resulted not only in political destruction and economic ruin, but also in pervasive corruption and immorality. Continue reading
From its genesis until its overthrow on February 12, 1912, imperial China was driven throughout its history by a permanent tension between the despotic state’s boundless hostility toward society and the violent anti-state sentiments of society. The result of this uncompromising and—at times— merciless antagonism between the omnipotent state and the ruthlessly oppressed society was a political culture in which absolute power alternated between the terribly powerful bureaucracy and the frightfully brutalized people. Continue reading
More often than men would like it, history has the annoying habit of repeating itself. Thus, already in 1985, the Sudanese people had a disappointing experience with the “Arab Spring” of their own making. Back then they overthrew Jafaar al-Numeiri’s military dictatorship that during its decade and a half reign brought Sudan to the brink of political chaos and economic ruin. Finally, after a hiatus of four turbulent years, the people’s revolution was hijacked by an alliance of the military headed by Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the fundamentalist Islamists led by Hassan Abdullah al-Turaki. Subsequently, Sudan became a thoroughly Islamist state sponsoring al-Qaeda and other hard- core terrorist organizations. This development, in turn, led to the separation of the Christian south from the Muslim north. Now, both countries are paralyzed by even more severe political anarchy and economic bankruptcy. Continue reading
On January 20, 2013, the United States of America will either have Barack Hussein Obama for four more years or will have a new president, the Republican Willard Mitt Romney, with a new House of Representatives and a new Senate. Be that as it may, the continuation of the Obama presidency, or alternatively the transfer of power to the new Romney administration, will be accompanied by many challenges, presenting the old, or the new president with a difficult agenda. Continue reading
Whoever strives to attain absolute powers is condemned to eternal insecurity. The rulers of Egypt were and are no exceptions. For this reason, the country’s current national misery lies both in its present and its past. For millennia, successive empires reduced the people to abject slavery. The 19th and 20th centuries respectively, saw monarchs and military strongmen ruling as despots over an increasingly divided people desiring either more Westernization or re-Islamization. The long rule of Muhammed Ali’s dynasty corrected none of the fundamental evils of the Ottoman Empire. The cruelty and hypocrisy of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s military dictatorship, the oscillation of Anwar Sadat between the Soviet Union and the United States, and between secularism and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the cynical corruption of the Mubarak era, all contributed to the gradual moral debasement of the Egyptian people. Continue reading