By José Niño*
No country is safe from the Eye of Sauron that is the modern-day American national security state. Even some of the US’s ostensible allies can’t escape its all-seeing eye. Hungary and Poland, both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have faced significant criticism from the chattering classes of DC and Brussels in recent years. While on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden compared countries such as Hungary and Poland to “totalitarian regimes.” Moreover, former president Barack Obama declared that both countries are “essentially authoritarian” despite being “functioning democracies” not too long ago.
Similarly, Mark Rutte the prime minister of the Netherlands, has gone as far as to call for the expulsion of Hungary from the EU for its recent passage of a law that would criminalize the promotion or portrayal of sex reassignment or homosexuality to Hungarians younger than the age of eighteen in media content.
As for Poland, several of its municipalities and regions have passed largely symbolic “LGBT-free” resolutions in opposition to several of the excesses of the cultural Left. Like Hungary, Poland’s traditionalist moves have ruffled feathers in the West. They even drew a harsh rebuke from the Trump-appointed US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, who boldly proclaimed Poland was “on the wrong side of history” in 2020.
Beyond cultural matters, Poland is in a long-standing tiff with the European Commission over its judicial affairs. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) insists Poland has exclusive authority over judicial questions, while Brussels maintains that EU laws trump the laws of member countries. The European Commission doubled down by calling on the EU’s main court to fine Poland for daring to not follow Brussel’s managerial script.
It’s amusing how politicians, journalists, and NGO mouthpieces from the world’s premier superpower and the Continent’s supranational political union would launch a two-minute hate campaign against countries within their alliance structures. After all, we’re supposed to be living in the “end of history,” when liberal democracy is supposed to resoundingly triumph against illiberalism. However, social engineers in the West cannot appreciate true diversity when it comes to the way countries handle their own affairs. Some countries will not bend to the universalistic whims of outsiders.
As members of the Visegrad Group—a contrarian bloc of countries within the EU made up of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia—Hungary and Poland have differentiated themselves from their Atlanticist peers in how they have not bought into some of the obsessions with multiculturalism, mass migration, and alternative lifestyle habits most Western democracies vigorously promote both in the state and corporate sectors. Similarly, Hungarian and Polish leaders’ constant reminders to their constituents that they belong to a broader Western Christian civilization further enrages the lifeless technocrats in Brussels, who worship at the altar of managerialism.
To be sure, the legislation the two Visegrad Group members have passed is perhaps controversial to the interventionists who want to turn every political jurisdiction into a facsimile of Brussels and Washington. As controversial as the two Visegrad Group countries’ moves may be, it’s hyperbolic to suggest that Poland and Hungary are sliding into some form of twentieth-century totalitarianism. Both countries count on parliamentary systems to elect leaders and pass legislation. Contrast that to the EU—a political behemoth filled with tons of unelected bureaucrats who constantly impose regulations and arbitrary edicts on otherwise sovereign nations.
If anything, so-called liberal Europe should be explaining itself for its hate speech laws and other regulations that impede people’s freedom of expression, not to mention the wrong-headed green energy policies that prevent EU member nations from having access to cheap and reliable energy sources.
In terms of political economy, Hungary and Poland are interesting cases. While they’re no free market luminaries, they’re ranked fifty-fifth (Hungary) and forty-first (Poland), according to the Heritage Foundation’s Index for Economic Freedom, which means they haven’t completely gone off the market path and still nominally protect property rights. These countries do shine in a handful of instances. For example, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has repeatedly stood up against tax harmonization efforts—a euphemism for corporate tax hikes. Hungary’s corporate tax rate hovers around 9 percent, a tax burden that is one of the lowest on the European Continent. On the energy front, Hungary and Poland aren’t sipping on the green energy Kool-Aid. Both the Hungarian and Polish political leadership have had choice words for the EU’s energy policies, further showcasing their dissenting streaks.
Despite all the evidence showing that Hungary and Poland are not totalitarian countries by any stretch of the imagination, there’s reason to believe liberal internationalists in the West will continue harassing them. Hungary is a particularly easy target due to an assortment of reasons that go beyond its domestic politics. Hungary’s clever use of geopolitical balancing and courting countries like Russia and China will definitely not make it any friends in Brussels and Washington, DC. Hungary has been open to working economically with both countries, which have had increasingly deteriorating relations with the West. With regard to China, Hungary previously blocked an EU statement when China decided to crack down on Hong Kong, much to the consternation of the EU and the international NGO-industrial complex.
Reasonable people, even outsiders, can have disagreements with foreign governments’ actions. But calling for wholesale regime change—be it through subversion or outright interventionism—is simply delusional. The resulting destabilization just creates additional problems and other unforeseen consequences that foreign policy tinkerers could never anticipate. But here’s the thing: when talking about foreign policy, we’re dealing with people who have long taken leave of their senses. Truth be told, there’s not much rational thinking going on in those spaces.
It would be inaccurate to view the US as a world power that exclusively uses brute force. Just as it operates domestically, the US state can turn to a combination of vigorous hard power and clever soft power to make wayward actors submit. The infamous “color revolutions”—movements that intelligence agencies, NGOs, and assorted domestic actors use to interfere in foreign elections with the purpose of generating an electoral crisis—are one of many tools the US deep state and its EU allies could use to harass wayward states and compel them to submit to their will.
Covertly mixing it up with Hungary and Poland would serve as solid tune-up fights for an empire that has faced recent reversals abroad in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. The irony here is that the US would be subverting two countries that are in its alliance network. As long as liberal internationalist zealots slither across the halls of Congress, one can only expect continued regime change efforts. All corners of the globe are fair game at this point.
A sea change in the way foreign policy decision-makers view the world is a prerequisite for any correction to take place in the way America conducts foreign affairs. If the status quo persists, the interventionist cabal in DC will always find ways to harass and destabilize nations abroad.
Source: This article was published by the MISES Institute