Autocrats Unite
July 9, 2024 11:26 PM   Subscribe

On the same page: "Trump had privately spoken about the option of allowing Putin to keep Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and the Donbas area... Putin said last month that Russia would end the war only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow, demands Kyiv swiftly rejected as tantamount to surrender."
All these leaders with autocratic ambitions think of themselves as part of the same club... What really unites them is this effort to rearrange the infrastructure of government so that they stay in power forever. --Kim Lane Scheppele (14:26)
Zelensky challenges Trump to release plan to end Ukraine war with Russia - "'If Trump knows how to finish this war, he should tell us today,' Zelensky said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday. 'If there are risks to Ukrainian independence, if we lose statehood — we want to be ready for this, we want to know.'"

Exclusive: Trump handed plan to halt US military aid to Kyiv unless it talks peace with Moscow - "Under the plan drawn up by Kellogg and Fred Fleitz, who both served as chiefs of staff in Trump's National Security Council during his 2017-2021 presidency, there would be a ceasefire based on prevailing battle lines during peace talks."

-Trump Still Doesn't Get Why Putin Is In Ukraine
-Trump Confesses He Spoke to Putin About "Dream" to Invade Ukraine
-Putin on Trump's proposal to quickly end war in Ukraine: Russia supports it

Trump's Plan for NATO Is Emerging - "Trump advisers envision a 'radical reorientation' in which Washington takes a back seat to Europe — and cuts a deal with Putin over Ukraine."

Welcome to Mar-a-NATO: European leaders tailor their message to Trump - "On the opening day of the NATO Summit in Washington, three defense ministers from Europe's most vulnerable countries showed how thoroughly they've already prepared to make their case to Trump if he returns to the presidency. At a panel in Washington hosted by POLITICO and the German newspaper Welt, the top defense officials from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania made a forceful case for the NATO alliance that was conspicuously Trump-friendly. They laced their remarks with tough love for countries that aren't spending heavily on defense and muted any direct critique of Trump's quasi-isolationist instincts. One minister employed vocabulary that was clearly aimed at the golf-loving former president, a real estate developer and hospitality executive by trade. 'NATO is a club. When you have club rules, then you respect the rules and you expect that everyone will also respect the rules,' Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said."

-World Leaders Brace for Trump
-As Biden falters, Europeans look to safeguard NATO
-How Europe Is Preparing for a Possible Trump Return
-Ukraine war is Europe's problem, Trump ally tells Labour
-'I Was Afraid of This': Biden Debate Debacle Rocks US Allies
-Trump foreign policy adviser meets with European officials attending NATO summit

'Make Europe Great Again': Hungary set for EU presidency - "Hungary is taking over the rotating Council of the EU presidency, with potential implications for Ukraine and climate policy. Will the bloc's wheels keep turning with its loudest dissenter steering many proceedings?"

Hungary takes EU presidency echoing Trump but likely to lack bite - "Hungary has a history of blocking or delaying funds and arms for Ukraine, as well as maintaining ties with Moscow. It has also criticised EU efforts to cut dependence on China. Ahead of its assumption of the EU presidency, the bloc hurried through new sanctions against Russia and launched membership talks with Ukraine."
  • Spain's far-right Vox quits ECR to join Orban's new European Parliament group - "Spanish far-right party Vox said on Friday it would leave the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament to join a new alliance led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The move deals a blow to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's hopes of securing the ECR's position as the third-largest grouping in the supranational legislative body and leading the opposition to the majority, which comprises moderate conservatives, social democrats and liberals... Orban's Fidesz party has already wooed Austria's Freedom Party, the Czech Republic's populist ANO and Portugal's Chega to join forces through its new platform."
  • Insight: Meloni, Le Pen rift mars far right's prospects of wielding EU power - "The Italian prime minister's message to the French leader was clear: She was no Italian version of Marine Le Pen, one of the sources said. Meloni's anger illustrates the depth of divisions within Europe's nationalist right that might stymie its efforts to wield power at an EU level despite record support... The prospect of a single, muscular bloc encompassing the far-right emerging is slim amid stark differences between its leading figures, Meloni and Le Pen, the sources said. Meloni de facto leads the hard-right European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) grouping within the parliament, while Le Pen is a driving force in the more overtly anti-EU Identity and Democracy (ID) group. A merger between their two groups at the European Parliament is highly unlikely because Meloni's strategy, now that she is in power, is to maximize Italian influence within Europe by collaborating with EU institutions, not fighting them, the sources said."
  • France's RN to lead new right-wing group at EU parliament - "France's National Rally (RN) will lead the European Parliament's third-largest alliance, Patriots for Europe, forged by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the group announced on Monday. Marine Le Pen's far-right RN joined the alliance in the European Parliament earlier on Monday, a day after it suffered a blow to its ambitions by finishing in third place in elections to the French National Assembly... Among other far-right groups, Germany's Alternative for Germany will not join the Patriots but has yet to land in a bloc."
  • Meloni, Le Pen divided despite EU far-right wins: analysts - "ID includes Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini's League party and the RN, but recently excluded Germany's scandal-ridden AfD party. The ECR and ID have significant differences: ECR supports aid for Ukraine as it fights off the Russian invasion while ID has a more hands-off approach to the conflict. Meloni, leader of Italy since October 2022, currently has a clear lead over Le Pen in terms of influence over European affairs. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, who is running for a second term, has suggested her centre-right EPP may be open to an alliance with the ECR and pro-European, pro-Ukraine Meloni. She has made no such overtures to ID, which she has described as Russian President Vladimir 'Putin's Puppets.'"
Orbán shakes hands with Putin in Moscow amid EU uproar - "The Hungarian PM's 'peace mission' has sparked condemnation from European leaders."

Hungary's Orban unexpectedly visits China, backs Xi's peace plan - "'Peace Mission 3.0.,' Orban, a critic of Western military aid to Ukraine and the EU leader with the warmest relations with Xi and Putin, said on his official X account as he touched down in Beijing... The central European country has become an important trade and investment partner for China, in contrast with other EU nations seeking to become less dependent on Beijing."

In Budapest, Xi Hails a 'Deep Friendship' With Hungary - "The Chinese leader met with Viktor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, one of China's most fervent admirers and protectors in Europe."

Chinese capital flows into Hungary - "Chinese firms are investing billions of dollars in Hungary. It's using the country as a gateway to the European market. A planned BYD electric car factory and several battery plants are promising jobs for locals — and a way for Beijing to bypass EU import tariffs."
  • Exposing Hungary's Dictator Orban as the Blackmailer and Kleptocrat That He Is [mp3 (38:34)] - "Then finally we look into how Hungary's dictator Orban is holding up EU funds to Ukraine and Sweden's entry into NATO with naked blackmail as this kleptocrat shakes down the rest of Europe for subsidies that keep him and his cronies in power."
  • Netanyahu's Path of Autocratic Legalism Following Orban, Erdogan, Bolsonaro, Modi and Putin - "We begin with an article written in 2018 'Autocratic Legalism' which has been translated into a book in Hebrew and has become a must-read in Israel to explain the movement by Netanyahu and the Israeli right from democracy to autocracy. Joining us is the author of the article Kim Lane Scheppele, a Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. She lived in Budapest, doing research at the Constitutional Court of Hungary and teaching at both the University of Budapest and at Central European University, and studied the emergence of constitutional law in Hungary and Russia. She is the author of 9/11: The Rise of Global Anti-Terrorism Law and had a prescient article in The New York Times, 'What Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis Are Learning About the Politics of Retribution.'"
  • You could actually not really have a democracy without the center-right adhering to constitutional norms. There's some really interesting historical work by Dan Ziblatt at Harvard and others that shows that really the future of constitutional democracy rests with whether center-right parties agree to play by constitutional rules or not -- or whether they start to move toward something that looks more like fascism. And now in the United States, unfortunately, the organized Republican party is looking much more extreme -- and much less constitutionally committed -- than a center-right party should be. In fact it's not really in the center-right any more by almost any measure of its political program.* --Kim Lane Scheppele (17:56)
  • Is Hungary a Model for Trump? - "We examine Donald Trump's affinity for Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister."
  • I watched Hungary's democracy dissolve into authoritarianism as a member of parliament − and I see troubling parallels in Trumpism and its appeal to workers - "How can strongmen get away with these antidemocratic politics? If there is one lesson from Hungary, it is this: Democracy is not sustainable in a divided society where many are left behind economically. The real power of authoritarian populists like Trump and Orban lies not in the institutions they hijack but in the novel electoral support coalition they create. They bring together two types of supporters. Some hardcore, authoritarian-right voters are motivated by bigotry and hatred rooted in their fear of globalization's cultural threats. However, the most successful right-wing populist forces integrate an outer layer of primarily working-class voters hurt by globalization's economic threats. Throughout the 20th century, Democrats in the U.S. and left-of-center parties in Europe provided a political home for those fearing economic insecurity. This fostered a political system that engendered equality and a healthy social fabric, giving people reason to care for liberal democratic institutions. However, when the economy fails to deliver, disillusionment with capitalism morphs into an apathy toward liberal democracy. If the liberal center appears uncaring, authoritarian populists can mobilize voters against both the cultural and economic threats posed by globalization. As I showed in my book, neglecting this suffering was the democratic center's politically lethal failure. By today, Hungary's liberal and left-of-center parties have retreated to the biggest cities, leaving their former provincial political strongholds up for grabs for the radical right. The same is taking place in the U.S., with the Republicans becoming a party of the working class and nonmetropolitan America."
  • What can Viktor Orbán's rise as a conservative superstar teach Trump? - "Orban won the Hungarian election in 2010 with a special moment after the crisis, and he received a constitutional majority in the Hungarian Parliament by one party. And ever since, he has been changing the rules of the game of Hungarian democracy. So over the years, he developed a system which he calls illiberal system, where there is more and more power gathered in the hand of the prime minister. So when he is talking to people abroad, Americans, he is selling his illiberal system as an example for form of governance where one strong leader has such a power than him."
-Putin Is Meeting a Lot of World Leaders for a Global 'Outcast'
-Modi's Russia Visit Dents West's Efforts to Cast Putin as Pariah
-With Orban in China and Modi in Russia, Putin's multipolar world takes shape

What is India's role in boosting Russia's war economy? - "As Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds talks with President Vladimir Putin, India wants to stay neutral and boost trade with Russia."

Why India Walks a Tightrope Between US and Russia - "The backbone of the relationship is India's status as a reliable buyer of Russian weapons and crude oil... India has also stood out among major democracies for its reluctance to criticize Putin, and has abstained from United Nations votes condemning the war in Ukraine."

Why Modi and Putin Are Friends - "Putin told Modi he was 'very happy' to see his 'dear friend,' according to Russia's TASS state news agency, while Modi called the visit a 'wonderful opportunity to deepen ties' between the two countries in a post on the social media platform X."
Hours before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Moscow on July 8, Russia fired missiles on Ukraine that killed at least 41 people, including four children at a children's hospital in Kyiv. The attack sparked widespread global condemnation, yet Modi was smiling as he posed for photos with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During Modi’s two-day visit to the Kremlin—his first trip to Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022— the two leaders hugged each other outside Putin’s suburban residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, before holding informal talks over tea and taking a tour of the grounds...

In response, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Modi’s visit “a huge disappointment” on X, saying it was “a devastating blow to peace efforts to see the leader of the world’s largest democracy hug the world’s most bloody criminal in Moscow.”
-Time running out for Ukrainians fleeing Russia's advance
-Ukraine navy chief says Russia is losing Crimean hub in Black Sea
-U.S. Officials Say Russia Is Unlikely to Take Much More Ukrainian Territory
-Russia's war in Ukraine began in Crimea. It could end there, too, defense experts say.

*Trump's Second Term: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
posted by kliuless (18 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
The only good reason Ukraine would have to cede territory is if NATO recognizes Ukraine's new borders as peaceful and immediately allows Ukraine to join.

Russia could have had this as a solution 8 years ago.
posted by ocschwar at 4:47 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

Thanks kliuless, this is a particularly good one of your megaposts, imho.
posted by Alex404 at 5:26 AM on July 10 [12 favorites]

Removing support to Ukraine would be an embarrassment for the United States on the world stage because Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe would bankrupt themselves bankrolling the defense of Ukraine and devote as much materiel and support as necessary before allowing Russia to take a chunk out of Ukraine.

Hell, Poland has been chomping at the bit to send in their troops to fight those fascist fucks. if it weren't for the *ahem* greater consideration, they'd probably have been there since day 1. And with the state of the Russian military the Poles would drive them back to the Volga.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:19 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]

I look at these men, none of whom are humanity's best, and I really do feel that anyone who longs to be in charge of anything bigger than a town is someone who probably should not be in charge of anything bigger than a banana lemonade stand.

The "who watches the watchmen" problem is so much worse when rich men can outright buy their ghastly puppets into positions of power.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:20 AM on July 10 [20 favorites]

Amazing post, kliuless - thank you.
posted by joannemerriam at 6:29 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Zelensky remains the person Ukraine needed at the time they needed him. Why are the Democrats challenging Trump on his rhetoric about Ukraine? If they are, why isn't the media covering this?
posted by bluesky43 at 6:53 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

Flagged as fantastic, even if the situation isn't.
posted by Gelatin at 6:57 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't overestimate the Polish army because it's very much the Good Soldier Svejk type at times (save for some elite units), but yeah, we know very well we'd not be next only because the Baltics are ahead on the list. Not our first rodeo.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 8:15 AM on July 10 [5 favorites]

Continually irritated by the US government not letting our allies fight the enemy.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:32 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Continually irritated by the US government not letting our allies fight the enemy.

There are very good reasons that this doesn't happen and we have a semi-official rule that we don't talk about those reasons.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:42 AM on July 10 [4 favorites]

Ukraine equipped with consistent and timely Western weapons is more than capable of both stopping Russian advances, and driving them back out of illegally and immorally captured Ukraine territory. If the USA especially had flooded the war zone with more equipment, the war would be much closer to over. Our fucking around this year has proven horribly costly. And I have no doubts Trump will try to extort Ukraine for whatever he can steal while throwing them under the bus and selling them out to Russia.

It's going to be a crime against humanity, if not the powers King Trump is granted by the Supreme Court.
posted by Jacen at 10:03 AM on July 10 [11 favorites]

I’m a bit worried that the right wing is going to realize that appeasing Putin kills their tough guy image and has been part of the reason for their recent electoral failings. Note that Giorgia Meloni is the only right wing candidate with an actual win in the last couple of years. She’s been strongly in favor of kicking the shit out of Russia.
posted by interogative mood at 10:04 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

That's a good point. How many regular GOP voters are old folks that still think of Russia (the country, the people, the entire concept of the nation) as THE enemy? I was born in 1980 and I think I'm on the rarer side that I understand the Russian government as separate from the Russian people, while also doing a piss-poor job of living up to it's own stated ideas.

Wrong headed though it is not to make that separation, if it's gets more and better weapons to the front, I don't care. Actions matter.
posted by VTX at 10:32 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

Thank you, kliuless, this is a sobering collection of links.

Now that we are close to dismantling the international order, I would like to offer the defence of liberalism that Dr. Brett Deveraux wrote in his blog to commemorate the 4th of July:

The philosophy of liberty - On liberalism

(Liberalism in the classical sense, as a political theory centered on personal freedom).

He goes on to describe what liberalism is, what problems it was supposed to solve, and how it has worked out for us until now (pretty well, it would seems, even if western democracies often fall short of their stated ideals).

What wenestvedt wrote above got me thinking: apparently, those with wealth are okay with installing "illiberal" democracies, or even actively working to make them a reality across the world. But most people with power and wealth in the West are only in their positions because they enjoy the protections of liberal democracy: ordered transfer of power, rule of law, right to property, freedom of speech, religion and association.

Are they not aware of the fact that, if they start putting autocrats in power in western countries, they will be the first to start falling from windows?

If you put Trump in power, and after the latest decisions of the Supreme Court, who is going to protect Elon Musk if Trump decides to seize SpaceX and sell it to someone more loyal to him?
posted by LaVidaEsUnCarnaval at 11:19 AM on July 10 [10 favorites]

I think our oligarchs have been feted for so long that they start to believe their own propaganda, that they are hero units and that by virtue of their wealth they have more HP than normal human beings and so are not under threat.

Whereas the rest of us can clearly see what happens in Russia or China, where if an oligarch becomes problematic or inconvenient, the local police force just sends ~10 officers with guns to go pick them up and take them down to the station for imprisonment/organ harvesting. In some ways it's less of a hassle than arresting a minor drug dealer. As usual, the libertarian/house cat analogy comes to mind.
posted by Balna Watya at 12:59 PM on July 10 [6 favorites]

If you put Trump in power, and after the latest decisions of the Supreme Court, who is going to protect Elon Musk if Trump decides to seize SpaceX and sell it to someone more loyal to him?

Do you really think that is going to happen? I mean, I guess it's a risk, but it's far more likely that Trump will give Elon some important government apparatus than take anything from him.
IMO that's the problem:for every oligarch minorly inconvenienced, 10 other ones are installed and get more power. That's a real bad ratio for the rest of us.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:06 PM on July 10 [1 favorite]

This is just being pedantic but:

Hours before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Moscow on July 8, Russia fired missiles on Ukraine that killed at least 41 people, including four children at a children's hospital in Kyiv. The attack sparked widespread global condemnation, yet Modi was smiling as he posed for photos with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Significantly, Modi also vented the global community’s anger over a Russian missile strike on Ukraine’s largest children hospital on the day he landed in Moscow for his first visit to Russia in 5 years.
posted by infini at 7:33 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

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