Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave an interview last week to Tucker Carlson , who is a returning guest in Hungary. (Carlson’s father is the director of a Washington lobbying firm Hungary has contracted to represent its interests.) Orban’s interview with Carlson aimed to prove to Republicans that he is a sound politician who offers excellent solutions to the conservative crowd. However, the interview proved he is an opportunist who takes every chance to bash the United States, even if that means repeating Russian propaganda.
While the Hungarian premier once again offered his unconditional support for former President Donald Trump, he also made statements that showed he is not the conservative leader some people claim him to be.
During his time with the former Fox News star, Orban claimed that the notion Ukraine could defeat Russia is a “lie” because the Russians are “far more numerous” and added that Ukraine would never be a NATO member. According to him, Russia will never give up its strategic aims in Ukraine, so the strategy of supporting Kyiv is a “bad one.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) clearly did not get the memo: He said in Kyiv on Aug. 23 that it cost the U.S. 3% of its annual defense budget to “destroy half of the Russian army.”
The Hungarian leader also noted that he warned the U.S. at every NATO summit that sending a single NATO soldier to Ukraine would start World War III. Still, the pompous Americans never listen to him. This is a clear falsification: President Joe Biden was obviously not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine to take part in the conflict when it began on Feb. 24, 2022.
These narratives spread by the Hungarian prime minister and the ruling Fidesz party harm not only the Democratic Party’s image in Hungary but that of the entirety of the U.S., which Fidesz uses to turn the Hungarian population against one of its key allies. Average Hungarians will not differentiate between Biden’s and Trump’s U.S. They will only see the U.S. negatively for allegedly being “responsible” for the war in Ukraine, which, as they are told, is what led to the economic hardship they are experiencing. And no sensible Republican can be happy about an allied head of government spreading disinformation taken straight out of Russian propagandaoutlets.
The Hungarian prime minister added that Trump’s presidency would quickly end the war if Trump closed the money flow to Ukraine. And while Trump and some other Republicans have toyed with the idea, others, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a strong proponent for aid, were evidently not notified of this “easy” solution to bring peace. The Hungarian government has never mentioned the actual easiest path to peace: immediately withdrawing all Russian forces from Ukrainian territories. It is very curious that the Hungarian leadership, as the self-appointed voices of peace, would make such an omission.
The prime minister claims that all the analysis of the Ukraine-Russia war is based on his excellent knowledge of Russia, which the Americans do not possess. This should also be scrutinized: In 2008, Orban, then in opposition, said that Russia’s attack in Georgia was “military aggression,” adding that a pro-Russia policy did not serve Hungarian interests. In the same year, current Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Szijjarto lashed out against Russian actions in Georgia during a protest in front of the Russian Embassy, adding that the Russians “handled” the invasion of Georgia the same way they did Hungary in 1956.
Since that day, Russian President Vladimir Putin has awarded Szijjarto the Order of Friendship, and the Hungarian Foreign Ministry could only offer a feeble response to a state-mandated Russian history book describing Hungary’s 1956 revolution as a “fascist” one. So, if the prime minister and the Hungarian foreign minister understood Russia’s methods in 2008 but now think the exact opposite, Orban and Fidesz’s knowledge of Russia can be questioned.
It is not, in fact, this excellent understanding that directs Orban’s Russia policy but mere political opportunism. Hungary, as Szijjarto correctly pointed out in 2008, knows precisely what Russian occupation entails, and its leaders are ignoring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine regardless, out of simple political calculations.
Finally, the claims that the Biden administration supported the Hungarian opposition during the 2022 general election must be addressed. First, there is, to this day, no solid evidence that any American institution was funding the Hungarian opposition with “a huge sum” to defeat Fidesz.
However, the interview never mentioned that a Hungarian semistate foundation, the Center for Fundamental Rights, was granted about a million euros to organize an “international conference,” implying the CPAC held in Budapest in May 2022. These funds came from Hungarian taxpayers. It was also not mentioned that U.S. conservatives such as Rod Dreher are being paid by organizations the Hungarian government has invested billions in to build a conservative network, improving the image of Fidesz globally. The source of the “investments”? The Hungarian taxpayer, whose net median salary in February was HUF 295,600, or about $846.
Besides his leftist economic policies , Orban should not be seen as a role model for Republicans because of his fundamental misunderstanding or deliberate denial of Western interests, repetition of Russian propaganda narratives that affect how Hungarians view the U.S., and use of Hungarian taxpayers’ money to restore the image of his government globally rather than to improve the economy.
Originally published here