Understanding the Hungarian Election

On Sunday, the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán clinched a landslide victory in his fourth consecutive election; Fidesz, his party, maintained its control of two-thirds of Hungary’s parliament. As David Harsanyi writes, in recent years Orbán has been presented as the “bugbear of the American left, and [the] false savior of national conservatives.” But in painting Orbán as either a ruthless authoritarian or the West’s last best hope, Harsanyi argues, both the left and right fail to account for the broadly illiberal standards of modern Europe. He goes on to note that while commentators on the left vastly overstate their case when, for example, comparing Hungary to North Korea, many on the right fail to understand or acknowledge Hungary’s shortcomings—particularly as they relate to the country’s demographic and economic challenges.

There is the United States, where courts (for now) often protect ideals of liberalism and democracy embedded in the U.S. Constitution, and then there is Western Europe, where liberal ideals, self-determination, and minority rights are protected only to varying degrees, as convenience and fashion dictate. Right now, for example, Germany is considering prosecuting people who show support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Unneutral treatment of speech may not bother progressives, or they may even advocate it, but it is not a “liberal” position.

The truth is, Hungary is illiberal within the normal illiberal standards of modern Europe. And that’s bad enough. Hungary is singled out for ridicule mainly because it declines to share the cultural values of the European Union or the progressive left, especially pertaining to social policies and to the flow of Middle Eastern migrants into the European Union. These positions, in the parlance of modern debate, are “anti-democratic.”

Hungary is a beautiful country. People aren’t suffering. An average household in Hungary makes around $10,000 less than average Mississippians, the poorest group in the United States. The average Hungarian is far less religious than the average American. The replacement birthrate in the United States is at historic lows, and yet still higher than the rate in Hungary.

Hungary isn’t North Korea or Russia. Neither is it a place Americans should aspire to emulate.

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Read more at National Review

More about: European Union, Hungary, Liberalism, Viktor Orban

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy