The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

What Hungary’s Purge of Senior Military Officers Can Teach Us All

Victor Orban is not a stupid man even though I disagree with him on a great deal:

Hungarian military leadership is receiving a purge. Over 170 generals and high-ranking officers were fired in a matter of a couple days. A deNATOization is occurring in the Hungarian command purging those that were socialized in NATO and international partnerships.

Now, it’s easy to reflexively say this is bad, but imagine you were a left-wing South American leader.

Yeah, you’d be an idiot not to purge the military of those trained by “NATO” and the US, because those are the guys who resist and who launch coups. The only question is how to do it without causing a purge. If you want to run your country in ways the West doesn’t approve of, this is what you have to do. It may be you want to do things that are worse or better (or a mix of both), but whatever you want to do, if it doesn’t agree with the US, you can’t leave those military officers in command.

This is more broadly true, of course, military officers who are loyal to a different ideology are poison. This is why the Angl0-American ideology was supposed to be that career military men don’t have political opinions; or at least don’t share or act on them. More violated in the breach, etc…

In Turkey Edrogan spent years purging the military, and used the failed coup to finish the job. But if he hadn’t already been purging, it wouldn’t have failed. In Brazil, Lula is currently cleaning at least some house, though nowhere near as much as Orban.

And some may remember that in Britain, there were threats of a coup if Corbyn became Prime Minister.

The military and paramilitary forces, police and secret police in particular, are always a problem. But there’s an argument that the worst are those who were foreign trained and whose loyalty isn’t truly to their home country. And given how senior officers in NATO countries are trained and socialized, well, their loyalties must always be suspect. Is it their own country their loyalty is with, or America?

Within a country, the question is “loyal to which faction.” In the US, for example, if push had come to shove it’s safe to say that the border cops would have sided with Trump and will side with any future “strong man.” Those watching the storming of the capital will remember how restrained the police were: if it had been a bunch of blacks, would they have been so considerate?

Brazil had an attempted coup during the election, and Lula, the new President is treating it very differently than Orban: he’s not just going after the foot soldiers, but after the people behind them. But then Lula went to prison on trumped up charges designed to stop him from running in the previous election: he understand the stakes viscerally.

American elites, internally, operate by a simple rule that if a member doesn’t betray the class, they don’t go to prison and they don’t lose their cushy lifestyle, even if they lose their power. There’s been some movement to hold Trump to account, but it’s half-hearted, simply because elites don’t want “their” president to be the one on the chopping block next. They all do things which could be considered illegal, after all, they’re little better than Mafia dons.

But if the stakes are “I keep power or I lose everything” then the game changes. The problem is that knowing they essentially have immunity, crimes in the elite class  have become worse and worse over time.

All systems have written and unwritten norms, but all systems have in and out groups. The norms apply to some people, and not to others. If any regular employee had treated classified documents the way Trump, Clinton and Biden did they’d be in prison, that’s just a fact. Blacks are treated worse than whites; but poor people are treated worse than rich people. Kinda shitty to be poor and black.

And some people and groups are considered legitimate in power and others aren’t. Corbyn wasn’t, which is why the media lied about him 80% or so of the time and why a nonsense anti-semitism scandal was whipped up (there was anti-semitism in the party, but Corbyn isn’t one, and the party is less anti-semitic than the Conservatives, which is what you would expect.)

And it’s why the British military might have couped Corbyn if he won and it’s why Orban, and his dispute with the EU heats up because of his refusal to go along with the consensus in the Russian war, on top of his various other policies, is getting rid of those officers committed to a different ideology, who might feel that he is illegitimate, and that he needs to go.



Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 29, 2023


Britain Stops Making Vaccine Available (But the Rich Will Still Get It)


  1. bruce wilder

    Tangential to the point of the OP but important:
    Re: If any regular employee had treated classified documents the way Trump, Clinton and Biden did they’d be in prison, that’s just a fact.

    This “scandal” is about whether democracy can survive institutionalization of secrecy. It is another dark shadow of the propaganda/surveillance state. Only a privileged elite “knows” important information and the job of said elite entails manipulative lying to everyone else.

    Trump, Clinton, Biden are NOT any regular employee needing a security clearance to access information or disclose and use verified information in policy-making or public discourse. They are or have been elected officials and political party leaders authorized by the People.

    As contemptuous as I am inclined to be of these individuals, I still regard it as supremely dangerous to democratic government and the rule of law to tolerate the intelligence agencies trying to embarrass elected officials or control their access to and use of information. The precedent set by the CIA intimidating Senate investigators of CIA torture is extremely threatening as is the persecution of Assange (on an essentially technical charge regarding “accessing” computer systems) as well as a whole series of whistleblowers.

    There is no more authoritarian tendency in government than the combination of secrecy and propaganda and media gatekeeping that has been erected, now conspicuously showing Presidents and Generals their vulnerability to the new Powers that Be.

  2. Ché Pasa

    Trump tried something like this, but he didn’t get very far. In point of fact, he was weak and too chaotic to impose his will — what will? — on the military/PMC/DeepState. It was just beyond him. Besides which he didn’t really object to most of their policy positions. Which everyone in the halls of power knew and sniggered over.

    On the other hand, our Establishment leaders of both parties are surprisingly happy with the declining empire, much as the British elites were as their Empire disintegrated.

    Orban or Lula may want to get rid of military and other leaders who adhere to a (somewhat) different ideology in order to preserve, protect and defend their own power from the likelihood of coups, but in the major empires, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. Almost anyone (some exceptions) can be set up as PM/king/President, with any ideology or none, and it won’t matter to those who jigger the strings.

    A case could be made that King Charles III is the most radical royal to sit on the throne since his distant ancestor Charles II, and it doesn’t matter. Boris was the most radical to hold the PM’s position since forever. It didn’t matter. Truss was jettisoned because of her incompetence, not because of her WrongThought. In the US, Trump is still considered a viable candidate, though not beloved, by a powerful faction of our Overlords.

    I’ve maintained for quite a while that those who actually control things — power, wealth, society — are clinically insane. Sociopaths doesn’t even begin to describe them. They’re crazy. And they can’t be controlled.

    Orban is far from saintly. Lula is so far not willing (or able?) to be as ruthless as he needs to be, so he’s likely to be couped before his term is up. Biden is too decrepit to fulfill his potential, and Kamala is hopeless. In other words, we’re in a holding pattern till the next political upheaval which will probably result from the catastrophe in Ukraine. These endless wars against phantom enemies cannot be sustained, no matter the urge among the highest of the mighty to do so.

    Above our hardscrabble lives, decadence rules. Sadly, that state of affairs can be sustained for many generations, no matter what else is going on.

  3. Eric Anderson

    And also why China, having made the devil’s bargain uplifting the capitalist class, would do well to seriously purge that same class. Here, our politicians are quick to bow and scrape to the capitalist class. In China? Not so much. The resentment is sure to be brewing among the elite. China got the capitalist production punch is wanted to be strong on the world stage. If it wants to stay that way and not get swallowed by the capitalists, it would do well to heed your advice by cutting every single one of it’s elite down to human size.

  4. Bill H.

    ” …crimes in the elite class have become worse and worse over time.”
    More notably, those crimes have been committed more and more openly.

  5. Geoffrey Dewan

    Attached report shows the response by military/police when BLM had protesters just marching BY the Capitol the summer before January 6 2021:

    If they had come up those stairs that summer there would have been blood and dead bodies pouring down you could’ve seen from outer space. Count on it.

  6. Curt Kastens

    The war in the Ukraine is not Putin’s war. It is NATOs war against Russia. Planning for this proxy war against Russia and China began in 2007 inside the Pentagon. Other NATO institutions have been involved in planning since December of 2012.
    Many naive people say OK maybe Russia was provoked, but the Russian Leadership could have countered these provications with none violent means. But such people do not realize that planning that takes place in the Pentagon leaves nothing to chance.
    If the Russians had not launched the attack when they did it would not have been long before the Ukrainians would have launched successful attacks to regain territory that had broken away from the government in Kiev, just as done in Croatia in the 1990s and in Azerbaijan just a few years ago. The Pentagon only had to make sure that the Russians knew what their options were, betweeen 2 bad choices from the perspective of the Russian Leadership. If the Russians did not attack they would lose. If the Russians did attack they would lose. The only question is which way would they lose more and faster. That is one level of the rabbit hole.
    But there is another level of the rabbit hole. The Russian leadership was led to believe through a very elaborate ruse that there were actually disgruntled European Politicians and military officers in high positions in NATO countries that would actually try to dismemeber NATO if NATO tried to stop the Russians attempts to defend themselves from NATOs decades of trechory against them. The German governments deciscion to send 5000 helmets in the Ukraine before the war started was probably one of the last acts of that deception. So from the Russian leadership point of view the decision was not one of lose or lose it was do nothing and lose and do something and possibly cause NATO to split apart.
    The key to the timming of the war is that the Pentagon developed a key technological supremacy over the Russians, and the Chinese for that matter as well. The US has developed the capablity to prevent the Russians from launching their strategic nuclear weapons. It is possible that they can even prevent the employment of tactical nuclear weapons. If it had not been for this ability the west would not have been so bold in supplying the Ukrainian forces with armaments. And since of course all the leading figures in the west knew what was really going and were on board with it there has been nothing but almost complete support for the proxy war against Russia in NATO and EU countries.
    Know you may be asking who am I and how do I know what I am reporting. Well you will for the most part have to take my word for it. But there are some clues from the past that I say give cooberation to what I am writing here. The first is the suicide of the US General who was chosen to take command of the US Space Command in 2016. He committed suicide just days before the change of command ceremony.
    Now the investigation in to his death claims that the reason that he committed suicide was that he was overcome by feeling of inadequecy. I say it is because he learned what his job over the next few years would entail. If the US were to develope the kind of capabilty that I say that they have developed it would have clearly been a joint project of the Space Command and the Cyber Command. In being briefed about his future assignment he would have learned that the US military was planning to start a war. A war that of course if would not be blamed for. I say that his conscience got the better of him. He realized that his whole life up to that point had been a lie and he could no longer live with himself.
    It might have been at this point in 2016, but perhaps it was even sooner, that someone came up with the idea of convincing the Russian military that officers in the US military are concerned by things other than their own status in their military institutions. The death of another high ranking military officer by suicide, the Admiral of US naval forces in the Persian Gulf, was set up in 2018. Never before has an Admiral or General in the US military committed suicide while forces under them were engaged in combat.
    The excuses for his suicide were pitiful. Of course he did not really committ suicide he was clearly murdered no doubt to help give people in Russian Leadership positions the idea that there was dissention in western military ranks.
    Of course I will be called a conspiracy crackpot for writing these things on a public forum because no one not even the Russians will want to cooberate my story. It makes them look weak and foolish. And this story probably will not have any measurable impact anyways. In a major sense I am wasting my time. I am shouting in to the wind of a hurricane.
    But I will not be committing suicide because my conscience got the better of me. I did what I could when I could do it to try to prevent uneccessary wars. I have lost all my life. So in the eyes of most Americans and many Europeans I am a loser. But I do not lose any sleep over being judged harshly be the members of pirate societies.

  7. Curt Kastens

    Oh, and I forgot to mention. I am impressed by the powerful enemies that Victor Orban is choosing to make.

  8. different clue

    @Kurt Kastens,

    What is the name of the Space Command General who committed suicide and when did he commit it? Where did this happen?

    What is the name of the Admiral of US Naval Forces in the Persian Gulf who was suicided in 2018? Where did this happen?

  9. Mark Level

    A couple of related incidents over the years– 1. the removal of the Australian left-wing P.M. Gough Whitlam in 1975 by the United Kingdom’s “Governor General” for unfaithfulness to western empire (he ended Australian participation in the Vietnam war as Nixon & Kissinger were about to exit after failures, no “peace with honor”) and also his impolitic early recognition of the abuse of the Native people was certainly meaningful in TPTB in the dying Brit empire removing him. He took office in 1972. Good link here–
    2. Many historians have noted how Salvador Allende had majority support when the same N & K planned the 1973 violent, genocidal Pinochet coup against him, but failed to mobilize his supporters for defense, not believing it was coming. An error for which Allende (& many others) paid with their lives. Fascist empires never care about “democracy” or “the rule of law”, they care about the bottom line and this is not hidden. I too don’t support Orban’s culture war games but he is pragmatic about what the US and Nato are and knows not to sacrifice himself & his country’s self-rule to the Tender Mercies of the U$A.

  10. DMC

    We could use a bit of purging in the US military just to be rid of the superfluous 75% of field grade officers. Honestly, there’s more generals and admirals today than at the height ofWW2, commanding maybe 20% of the troops.

  11. Ian Welsh

    Need to get rid of the ridiculous “up or out” if you want to get rid of the field officers. But yes, agreed.

  12. different clue

    @ Mark Level,

    I remember reading somewhere that also Gough Whitlam was getting set to close the American Listening Post at Pine Gap, Australia . . . . thus blinding one of the Five Eyes.

    Here’s a little Web Article on the Pine Gap deal. Pine Gap was apparently more than just a Listening Post but it was that among other things. I almost betcha that the perceived threat to the Pine Gap CIA Station was the thing that lead the deciders to decide to overthrough Whitlam.

  13. Eric Anderson

    @Kurt Castens:
    One of the best pieces of advice I ever took to heart is:
    “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

  14. Eric Anderson

    Honest question:
    What major countries in the world aren’t fascist?
    The best thumbnail definition I have is (corporate rule) + (nationalist fervor) = fascism. Domination of political processes by the 1% + an endless stream of propaganda promoting “rah rah rah our team rules.”
    Am I wrong?

  15. Eric Anderson

    I mean, is this not the default position of virtually every major media outlet in the the U.S, — being owned by oligarchs whose best tool to distract the masses from their crimes is dangling the shiny object of “look at those bad guys over there” so they can steal you blind over there?
    Again, this doesn’t feel like I’m too far afield in my assessment.

  16. Curt Kastens

    Different Clue,
    The answer to your question is,
    Major General (P) Rossi
    Vice Admiral Stearney

  17. Astrid


    You’re spinning a conspiracy centered around a way to defeat fundamental rules of physics on 2 military suicides? For a military that’s seen very elevated levels of suicide for all levels for decades? I believe that our elites are indeed a conspiracy to deprive the rest of us of life, liberty, and property but…

    Couldn’t you pin it on something a bit more substantive like space lizards wanting to disarm Earth ahead of an invasion or that Ukraine SMO was intentionally staged to enable a relatively peaceful transfer of power from the US to Eurasia?

  18. Curt Kastens

    Another thing, as the war was starting I saw a speech that Putin made. He said that this war in the Ukraine was not a war against Ukraine it was a war against NATO and it was the first step towards the distruction of NATO. He would not have gone out on such a limb unless he really believed what he was saying. And he could not have believed what he was saying unless someone had promised him, either directly or through his subordinates something. At this point it was clear that he and the Russians were betrayed by people in western European Countries.
    Putin also explicitly threaten to widen the war against western European Countries should they interfer with Russian operations in the Ukraine. That was an implicit threat of nuclear war or at least cyber war against western Europe. I maintain that his has not happened because Putin was bluffing and the west called his bluff. I maintain that this has happened because the US military has developed the ability to hack in to Russian computer networks and other communications systems that are air gapped and also thought to be hardened against the insertion of outside viruses. It is possible that the Russians can identify and repair damage but they can not prevent the US from creating new damage at an even faster rate than they can repair it.
    This US military has achieved its publically stated goal of achieving full spectrum dominance. It is no secret that this is what the US military was trying for decades to achieve. They publically stated it during the second George Bush administration. The Russians and Chinese may eventually be able to thwart this capability. Once they can if they can the US and it allies will act in a somewhat more restained manner. But the US military and its allies will never stop waging war against Russia and China until hell freezes over or they have put US puppets in to place in those countries.
    Ok I guess in theory the Russians and Chinese could win by putting thier own puppets in place in Washington. But hell will likely freeze over first as the populations of the west are irredimably corrupt. When I say that I do not mean that every indivdual is corrupt but that collectively the west is irredimibly corrupt. Individuals do not have an equal influence over what a society does. A General or the owners of major media have millions of times more influence over the actions of a society than a UPS delivery driver. The Generals and their civilian counterparts are flat out evil. The masses are totally unprepared to content with the manipulation that they are subject to be such powerful people. The relevent context of much of what is reported to them is missing. And to top that off many of the masses do not care about truth or justice anyways. They want freedom, the freedom to be pirates and to exploit other people. They call that civilization. Those who want to straighten them out are called terrorists and barbarians.
    It took me months to decide to write about this. There are some religious figures who say that one should always tell the truth even if telling the truth will get you and your family killed. They say this because their view is that if you do not tell the truth then it shows that you lack faith in God. But there are other religous figures who say of course you are allowed to lie if you think that you and your family will be persecuted for telling the truth. In thier view God does not call everyone to be a Martyr. God will always have a plan B.
    Well I do not happen to be religious. I am a philosopher, and a social scientist. My actions have to stand a cost risk benifit analysis. From an orthodox cost risk benifit analysis standpoint my making this comment is not a smart logical thing to do.
    I have made this comment out of emotional frustration. It has been extremely disillusioning to see that 95% of the people on the left side of the politcal spectrum, in my estimation, in the west have sided against the Russians. Perahps 4% have been more subdued but that is only because they fear the consequences of a nuclear war.
    That leaves a very small number of people in the west that see this propganda atrocity in the west for the way it is framing the war in the Ukraine for what it really is. A complete distortion of the relevent historical background to this conflict.

  19. Mark Level

    Thank you, d.clue for the info viz Australian Intell, central to “5 Eyes” Anglo speaking imperialism from the legacy schools. Yes, he had legit concern for the majority of people & not just the elite & connected. . . so obviously he had to be taken out. More’s the pity, but that’s how things “work”.

  20. Ché Pasa

    So if Orban keeps it up, will he be suicided or coup-ed out? Yes, no, maybe? Wait, though, isn’t he aligned with all the other fascist rulers in the world? Who would defenestrate him? CIA and its offshoots? To what object? There must be better fascists than him in Hungary, each eager to be Nato-ized?

    Reminds me a bit of the pre-WWII situation in Europe and much of the rest of the world. We forget or never knew that almost all of Europe, Central and South America, and Asia were ruled by fascist or proto-fascist parties, or they were engaged in civil wars and wars with one another to establish dominant fascist rule. In other words, just prior to the invasion of Poland in 1939, there was no “democracy against fascism” struggle because fascism was almost entirely dominant almost everywhere.

    On at least one level, WWII was about which fascist/proto-fascist ideology and ruling class would hold sway over all. Washington, London, and Moscow were adamant it would not be Berlin or Tokyo.

    Nevertheless, as long as the Soviet Union survived, totalitarianism in one form or another was widely embraced, attenuated in the West, but still rigid conformity was the rule. Overt fascist rule continued in Spain and Portugal, and fascism was ascendant nearly everywhere in Latin America. On the other hand, Soviet Stalinism and Chinese Maoism were quite as fierce in their assertions of “People’s Power” — while of course largely ignoring the will of the People.

    Orban practices a Soviet-esque style, like we see in many of the former SSRs. It will be interesting to see if he survives, and if he doesn’t, who/what will replace him.

  21. Lisa Mullin

    Nonsense. Orban is the prototype fascist leader the US GOP is emulating.

    The odds are he’s setting up to (a) leave the EU and NATO and join the Russian Federation, (b) invade Ukraine from the west.

    He’s a monster, who’s ‘values’ align with the woman hating, LGBTIQ hating, anti Semitic, Christian fascist Russia.

    He rode to power on the back of anti Semitism. Since then he’s stripped women and LGBTIQ people of their rights..banned feminism being taught. He’s made being transgender illegal.
    Like all his kind he’s crushed any opposition or opposing media while looting his country.

    Anyone that supports him is a fascist.

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