Trump loves a strongman, so of course he fawns over Hungary’s Viktor Orban

How Washington pivoted from finger-wagging to appeasement.

Two important American visitors showed up in Budapest on Wednesday. One was Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House adviser who is an admirer of Hungary’s strongman, Viktor Orban; he addressed a conference on “Europe’s Future ” organized by Mária Schmidt, an Orban counselor with Bannon-esque ideas about maintaining a Christian culture in Europe. Bannon had called Orban “a man of principles” as well as “a real patriot and a real hero” earlier this year.
..  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell, the highest-ranking American official responsible for U.S. relations with Hungary. Mitchell came to usher in a new era of accommodation between the Trump administration and the Orban government.
.. this administration believes that offering high-level contacts and withholding criticism will improve an authoritarian regime’s behavior. For those who know Hungary’s politics, this is appeasement — the victory of hope over centuries of experience.
.. Orban’s odyssey began in 1998 when, during his first term as prime minister, he started to flirt with nationalistic, anti-American and anti-Semitic sentiments to try to win reelection in 2002.
.. When Istvan Csurka, the head of an anti-Semitic party, blamed the United States for the 9/11 attacks (it got what it deserved, he said), the premier declined to dissociate himself from Csurka, despite a White House request to do so.
.. He has since managed to change the Hungarian constitution five times to reduce judicial independence, restrict press freedoms and modify the electoral system to ensure that no viable opposition could ever form against him and his coalition.
.. he still embraces anti-Semitism as a political tool, praising a Nazi-allied wartime leader of Hungary and using stereotypes to cast Jewish emigre George Soros as an outside puppeteer... the pro-government weekly Figyelo recently issued an enemies list of about 200 prominent opposition individuals. Most were local civil society advocates

.. Two Hungarian newspapers, Magyar Nemzet and Budapest Beacon , shut down this spring as advertisers vanished because of their opposition to the Hungarian government, leaving only one print opposition daily.

.. on May 15, when John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, received Jeno Megyesy, Orban’s chief adviser on the United States. (Megyesy was also the official point of contact for then-Trump aide Carter Page’s meetings in Budapest during the campaign.

.. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is scheduled to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; although Szijjarto has visited Washington an eye-popping seven times in the past 18 months

.. What, if anything, is the United States getting from Hungary for this appeasement? The $12 billion Russian-financed and secretly signed Russian Paks II nuclear plant in southern Hungary is one reflection of Orban’s Russian orientation.

.. Hungary spends only 1 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, among the lowest levels for NATO members, despite Trump’s insistence that nations step up their payments.

.. the policy of appeasement signifies abandonment

.. But the hour is late. Orban’s vision has gained considerable appeal throughout Europe.

.. In 2014, when he declared the end of the age of liberalism, he was seen as a pariah; today he is the leader of a xenophobic, authoritarian and often anti-American trend that haunts Poland, Austria and Turkey.

..  His hostility to migration, particularly what he calls the “Islamic multitude” that “leads to the disintegration of nations,” is widely shared.

.. He is admired for having built the first wall in Europe — on the Hungarian-Serbian border — to stem the flow of migrants in 2015. (Paradoxically, Hungary used to be admired for tearing down the barrier between itself and Austria, precipitating the fall of the Berlin Wall.)

How Hungary Became a Haven for the Alt-Right

The increasingly illiberal European country offers shelter to a growing number of international nationalists.

.. Orbán’s “refugees” have been moving to Hungary, and Budapest in particular, for years. A small clique of Identitarians, or aggrieved nationalists from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and elsewhere, all motivated by their disdain for their home countries’ commitment to liberal values, have found an ideological match in his Hungary, where two extreme far-right parties, the governing Fidesz and Jobbik, the largest opposition party, make up most of the National Assembly.

Jobbik is the first European political party to champion a border wall. Its members frequently express open anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiments, and prioritize the preservation of “Hungary for the Hungarians.

.. they have created a structured propaganda circuit, in the hopes of spreading their ideas far and wide.

.. At the center of the scene is a publishing house called Arktos Media. It is routinely referred to as the preeminent publisher of the alt-right

.. Dugin’s “ethnonationalism,” a belief in the creation of ethnically homogenous nation states, has been championed by white nationalists, who argue that Europe and America are innately white nations.

.. Arktos titles largely promote a viewpoint it characterizes as “alternatives to modernity” that are critical of liberalism, human rights, and modern democracy.

 .. he argues that multiculturalism and liberal human rights—what he calls “cultural Marxism”—have been the dominant culture since the fall of Nazism, and outlines how transforming this culture space is necessary for political and social change.
.. In 2014, Jobbik’s popularity surged, thanks to a platform that pledged to preserve Hungarian ethnic purity.
.. These are people with an almost medieval view on the world and they find a safe haven in Hungary,” Kréko told me.
.. multiculturalism is the supreme enemy
.. Both believe in draconian immigration laws based on ethnic and racial preservation.
.. 20th-century intellectual fascist Julius Evola’s A Handbook For Right-Wing Youth
.. Evola, who White House chief strategist Steve Bannon quoted in a 2014 speech at the Vatican, is considered by academics as “possibly the most important intellectual figure for the Radical Right in contemporary Europe.”

.. Marton Gyöngyösi, another key politician in Jobbik credited with calling for all Jews in Hungary to be registered on a list.
.. Jobbik’s resistance to immigration, he said, is limited to people from “Africa or the Middle East,” because they do not share the same “cultural values” as Hungarians, as opposed to the “Austrians or Polish or American people who come to our country and who share the same civilization, the same religion, or the same values or way of life.”
.. Friberg has sought to obscure his violent transgressions under a cover of intellectual legitimacy.
.. He has spent his far-right career repackaging eugenicist ideology by rebranding the same or similar material with words such as “identitarian,” “traditionalist,” or “archeofuturist.”
.. Michael Polignano, co-founder of Counter-Currents, moved to Budapest in 2016, and joined the nationalist scene. After moving to Hungary in January 2017, men’s rights activist Matt Forney wrote:
“Imagine there’s no leftists. It’s easy if you try. No protests in the streets, and in front of us, only cute white girls. That world exists, and it’s called Hungary.”
.. YouTube and Twitter personality RamZPaul, who has lived in the Hungarian capital off and on since 2013, tweeted in February to nearly 35,000 followers: “Budapest is like Paris of the 1920s. #Hungary.”
.. British Nationalist Party leader Nick Griffin .. has been deeply involved with a radical Christian organization called “The Knights Templar International,”
.. a resettlement campaign called “Operation Ark” for “refugee” South African Boers to relocate to rural Hungary
.. Breitbart is now rumored to be opening a Hungarian office in the near future
.. these nationalist internationals are creating a sanctuary from which to broadcast anti-globalism across the globe.