Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
When Hungary pulled out its troops from Iraq at the end of 2004, it only because of another power politics by Fidesz: they decided humiliating the government is worth more than repairing relations with their ideological brothers and role models across the pond.

Repairing, I say? Let's go back six years.

When Fidesz was newly in government, there was a tender for NATO-compatible fighter jets to replace the MiGs. There were two competitors: a Swedish company with BA offered the Gripen, and Lockheed offered used F-16s with an upgrade. The Gripen was considered the better option, but everyone assumed a Lockheed win, due to ties with Fidesz. This was reinforced by the most ridiculous corruption scandal in Hungarian history, when a string of Fidesz MPs signed a lobbying letter for a Lockheed executive that was nominated for ambassador, and some even signed as "senator" - something that does not exist in our system...

Now, a year later, in autumn 2001, the inofficial campaign season started early.  Fidesz was busy putting forth spin to supress its real big corruption scandals, just blowing over in the press. So the leadership thought a Lockheed win could lose them the elections - and decided for Gripen. Bush wasn't amused. A few weeks later, when PM Orbán flew to Washington for a campaign photo with Bush at the White House, Bush wouldn't receive him. Suddenly, the US ambassador, Freedom House et al discovered the virulent anti-semitic talk and the attempts at media takeover, and openly criticised it.

This all was real fun to watch for yours truly - until after the elections, until next fall. Then, in the run-up to the Iraq war, during which our government first kept anxious silence, when the government visited Bush in Washington, they were openly criticised, after reminders of 'support' in the elections. At the same time, suddenly there were a string of articles in the WSJ and other papers about Hungary sabotaging the NATO, not spending anything on modernisation and raising its military budget etc., and of growing intentions of NATO leaders to do something about it. And more widely, about various 'signs of crisis'. (Yeah, that reminds of certain campaigns against certain other countries a few months later...)

This was in the open; I wonder what went on behind closed doors. And our government took heed, and suddenly, they began to beat the drums of war. They kept to the line against wide popular opposition. Of the parties in parliament, only the MDF had a clear line against the war and the following troop deployment, so the required two-thirds majority was there in the summer of 2003, and during the first extension half a year later. The end of it I told of at the beginning. Since then, the government tried to prove its good vassalness with promising token supports, that mostly weren't called for later.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Aug 15th, 2005 at 03:57:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series