Fight on the Right: Anti-War Hungary Versus a Bellicose EU

The far right has somehow managed to put itself on the correct side of history on one lone issue – opposition to the Ukraine War. Take Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. That Orban is a right-winger is beyond doubt, one who’s supported abroad by reactionaries who arguably could be called fascists. That he’s an authoritarian has long been received wisdom in the west; and with reason. But if so, he’s also an anti-war authoritarian, as in anti-Ukraine War. And when it comes to something as awful as war, be it in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, it’s a life and death matter to know who really stands for peace and to say so – even if he is a far-right ideologue and standard bearer like Orban.

So this is where things get sticky. Because for the European Union, the Ukraine War is a pet project, practically sacred. Nothing must come between Europe and its bloody proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, a war, in former ambassador Chas Freeman’s famous words, that the west will fight to the last Ukrainian. Well, hundreds of thousands of dead Ukrainian soldiers later, that last Ukrainian is coming into view. But still Eurocrat kooks are crazy for war. Hungary, however, is not. This, shouted the birdbrain, unelected European rulers, must not stand. Hungary must be brought to heel; legally or illegally.

And it was – by means of threats, brow-beating and skullduggery, specifically the ugly EU promise to tank Hungary’s economy if it vetoed the EU’s proposed $50 billion for Ukraine. Which Orban had sworn to do. But the EU made it clear it would destroy his nation’s economy, if he didn’t back down and release money not directly for Kiev’s military, but to keep the war’s political support systems alive. Orban called it a lose/lose situation, believing that if Hungary had vetoed the money, according to Nexta TV February 4, “then the other 26 EU member states would still have sent money to Ukraine, using for this purpose…funds intended for Hungary itself.” How would the EU maneuver this? By snatching away Hungary’s right of veto.

“We made a compromise proposal,” Orban posted on X. “In return we were blackmailed by Brussels. The Brussels blackmail manual was published in the @FT earlier this week. The cat is out of the bag. Forget about the rule of law. Hungary is blackmailed for having its own opinion…” These remarks came in response to a Financial Times article, which was an eye-opener, to say the least. FT had seen a file that “outlines a confidential plan by Brussels to shut off all EU funding to Budapest in order to spark a run on Hungary’s currency and drive a collapse in investor confidence.”

“The EU will sabotage Hungary’s economy if Budapest blocks fresh aid to Ukraine,” began the FT article January 28, citing an EU document. If Orban didn’t cave, the document urged other EU leaders to “publicly vow to permanently shut off all EU funding to Budapest with the intention of spooking the markets, precipitating a run on the country’s forint currency and a surge in the cost of its borrowing.” With friends like these, who doesn’t wonder about the so-called advantages of EU membership? FT quoted a consultancy director: “This is Europe telling Viktor Orban ‘enough is enough; it’s time to get in line. You may have a pistol, but we have the bazooka.’”

The EU document lists Hungary’s weaknesses – its feeble currency, “very high public deficit,” and “very high inflation,” among other things. “It lays out how ‘jobs and growth…depend to a large extent’ on overseas finance that is predicated on high levels of EU funding.” The FT mentions Brussels’ previous bullying of Poland, Hungary and Greece, but states that “a strategy to explicitly seek to undermine a member state’s economy would mark a major new step for the bloc.” Several EU capitals also mulled stripping Budapest of its voting rights.

So why be concerned about the travails of a very right-wing prime minister? Because what happed was tyrannical, targeted the entire Hungarian population and reveals the EU bureaucracy to be a despotism fanatical about imposing its imbecilic projects – Ukraine has lost the war – on its members with truly fascist uniformity. There’s not much to praise about living in the U.S. these days, or the American government, but at least we don’t have a pack of shrill, pampered, egotistical maniacs from multiple other countries dictating our policies. (Then again, given most U.S. policies, that could conceivably be an improvement.)

Budapest put up a valiant fight in its struggle for fiscal reasons, with one of its ministers, Janus Boka proclaiming that his country would not yield to Brussels’ blackmail. Well, we saw how that worked out – and first saw it nine years ago, when Greeks dared elect Syriza, that is, a left-wing government, contrary to EU wishes. Brussels crushed Athens, the socialists collapsed in the face of Berlin’s financial grip on their throats, and living standards dropped so low that it looks like Greeks won’t be electing any lefties for years to come. Later, the only possible response to this financial totalitarianism came in the form of Brexit – an utter flop. The clear message is “don’t mess with the EU!” Sadly, the alternatives to EU membership appear to be either the UK’s economic decline or Serbia’s fearless isolation within Europe. Neither is a good look for leaders trying to justify to their people going their own way. In fact, Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009, but Brussels appears leery of the people its military wing, NATO, bombed back in 1999 for two and a half months, slaughtering 2000. A guilty conscience is a terrible thing.

But back in the present, Budapest tried to gain some flexibility from EU rulers. “Hungary does not allow blackmail,” Boka wrote on social media on January 28. “The agreement confirms what the Hungarian government has been saying for a long time: Brussels is using access to EU resources as a means of political pressure…Hungary makes no link between supporting Ukraine and access to EU resources and refuses to let others do so.” Oops, that didn’t last. Because though it may be an authoritarian and certainly is right-wing, the Hungarian government is evidently realist. It recognized who the true authoritarian was in the dustup and who held all the cards.

So Ukraine gets its $50 billion. Now it just has to convince Europeans to extradite Ukrainians living abroad, so they can be shipped off as cannon fodder to the Russian front. So far that decision has been left to individual nations, in recognition that the tens of millions of Ukrainians who have fled the war to Europe and to Russia have some rights, even though they are expats from the EU’s darling cause celebre. Their residency abroad serves as uncomfortable proof that this whole Western proxy war has been a fiasco for Ukraine, which has lost a huge chunk of its population, its territory and now, evidently, the war itself.

If the current, very corrupt Kiev regime remains in power, what will it do with these European funds? Doubtless, after massive skimming, it will find a way to use some of these monies to finance terrorism against Russia, which was the CIA’s Plan A back in February 2022, when the war erupted. It took a long time for the west to sober up after its initial euphoric hallucinations of victory over Moscow, but now it pretty much has, and the results will likely be predictably ugly. Budapest may have wanted distance from this, but as long as it remains in the EU, that is not possible. What the EU did to Athens nearly a decade ago was darkly ominous. Now it has done something similar, to Budapest. That’s an omen all right, one which casts its long shadow over the west; an omen that’s not of anything good.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website.