De Gaulle: if Orban can what if, so can I
Revisiting Le Général for a more evolved hypothetical on the war in Ukraine
Orban’s spicy take on the war in Ukraine
“I have to say that this war would never have broken out if we had been a little luckier and at this crucial hour the President of the United States of America was called Donald Trump, and if before that we had managed to persuade Angela Merkel not to leave office: if Donald Trump had been the President of the USA and Angela Merkel the Chancellor of Germany. But we were not lucky, and so now we are in this war.”
— Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the 31st Bálványos Summer Free University and Student Camp
23 July 2022
Cheeky, as one Substack reader put it. Orban never really took Trump seriously, even when Trump was president. Hungary, unlike Poland, refrained from gambling anything vital for the country on Trump’s (or the Republican’s) support.
Orban, a veteran politician, priced in President Shitpost as a shitposter, and gladly gave him likes and thumbs ups, as a good shitposter deserves; but nothing more substantial.
Namedropping Merkel is a bit more serious, he genuinely respects Angela. The Germans under her were still willing to go their own way, in a carefully self-policed yet somehow — to outsiders —blatantly hypocritical fashion. (The way they conduct anything during the intermissions of European history when they don’t have absolute power to just bluntly do whatever they want.)
Now hypotheticals are hard to fact check, so if you’re a fan of SCIENCE, of FACTS and LOGIC, you should stop reading here.
To the rest of you, let me offer a better counterfactual: de Gaulle.
As a (re)introduction to the relevant parts of his extensive resume, I’m lifting both Wikipedia quotes from my megapost, Whose foreign policy, the first one giving you a picture on de Gaulle’s view of Europe’s place in the world (post-WWII), the second one featuring evergreen / prescient bits for the lulz:
His vision stood in contrast to the Atlanticism of the United States and Britain, preferring instead a Europe that would act as a third pole between the United States and the Soviet Union. By including in his ideal of Europe all the territory up to the Urals, de Gaulle was implicitly offering détente to the Soviets. As the last chief of government of the Fourth Republic, de Gaulle made sure that the Treaty of Rome creating the European Economic Community was fully implemented, and that the British project of Free Trade Area was rejected, to the extent that he was sometimes considered as a "Father of Europe".
De Gaulle opposed any development of a supranational Europe, favouring Europe as a continent of sovereign nations. De Gaulle openly criticised the United States intervention in Vietnam and the "exorbitant privilege" of the United States dollar. In his later years, his support for the slogan "Vive le Québec libre" and his two vetoes of Britain's entry into the European Economic Community generated considerable controversy in both North America and Europe. Although reelected to the presidency in 1965, he faced widespread protests by students and workers in May 1968, but had the Army's support and won an election with an increased majority in the National Assembly.
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Regarding Europe’s place in our present world, dominated by Turbo America, where the closer you are as an ally, the more suffocating America’s presence is (aka the Biden-Blinken era of all sticks no carrots US foreign policy), a dominance that can partly be blamed on Europe’s indifference to foreign affairs, our unwillingness to meddle even right next door (post-Maidan Ukraine), I propose this simple solution:
Europe needs to unlearn its learned helplessness on the international stage
Europe needs to retvrn to de Gaulle
De Gaulle has successfully pulled this off before, post-WWII, at a time when Europe was more devastated than it can ever be by COVID, by the elite prostrating themselves to Kiev, or whatever crayon drawn handicap Grüns can come up with, at a time when Washington (and Moscow as well) was way more dominant, both on the Old Continent and globally.
So, my Gaullist iteration on Orban’s hypothetical, the point of this post, is the following:
If Europe had a de Gaulle from 2008, or at least from 2014, the Ukraine war would never have broken out.
A half glass full
When the US overplayed its post-9/11 hand with the Iraqi War in 2003, Europe missed a chance to decouple from Washington.
Now, despite the bleakness of Europe’s situation as of late 2022, in fact, due to the intolerable bleakness of it, coupled with Washington’s increasingly harsh foreign policy towards its friends, us, Europeans are blessed with a second chance to meaningfully decouple from our abusive, transatlantic mommy.
Hop on the Gaullist train!
For what it’s worth, Peter Hitchens is already on it. That’s as third way as it gets nowadays, most special snowflakes!
The US State Department just threw a million bucks at a Hungarian opposition news portal to train journalists.
Which, according to my nationalist values (get the foreign currency out of the Westerners with zero shame) is great! Good for them!
But it also means that independent journalism, such as Substack, needs to keep up with the Swamp! Make it an arms race and support bloggers! If we’re a battleground, it’s a win-win for Hungary!
I’ve switched on premium a month ago, and since then the PayKings are getting more and more numerous by the week. Thank you all, have a crown: 👑