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Potemkin Committee Hearing
The Diplomat vs. the Lobbyist

A former U.S. congressman is leveling serious accusations against a U.S. diplomat on behalf of Viktor Orban.

Published on: November 23, 2017
Thomas O. Melia was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (2010-2015) and Assistant Administrator of USAID (2015-2017) during the Obama Administration, and is currently a Fellow at the George W. Bush Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
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  • AnonymoussSoldier

    I like Orban. He has a spine and fights the EU corruptocrats and Soros to keep Hungary Hungarian and safe. Haven’t seen a lot of terror attacks there, or in Poland.

    • Suzy Dixon

      Me too. I actually have family there. Mothers side is as close to 100% Hungarian that anyone can be. I always tell those skeptical of a taking a European trip to go to Hungary, Poland, and maybe the Baltics. Still a real European experience and, most importantly, safer. Hope it stays that way.

  • rheddles

    I’m done for the month.

  • Tom

    Okay, this is new…how? We’ve had former Congresscritters shilling for dictators of various stripes for years–more like decades, actually. This fellow’s a bit more brazen than most, but this is a difference of degree, not kind.

    • Pait

      I think the US is used to Congressmen supporting foreign dictators when they seem to be useful to the United States. The practice has brought the country and the world a lot of grief, but it’s understandable.

      What is unusual is a former Congressman being in the pay of a foreign dictator who wants to suppress freedom in an allied country and acts in the interest of enemy dictators and against the US. It may not be the 1st time ever, but it’s remarkable.

      • Psalms13626

        Orban’s government is most noted for its strident anti-migrant stance. How is not letting Hungary be overran by Muslims in the interest of enemy dictators and against the US. Please be specific. Or is this another one of Pat’s patented flights of fancy, where the world is divided into a simple Leftwing = good not Leftwing = bad paradigm?

        • Tom

          In fairness to Pait, Orban has been opposed to sanctioning Russia for its activities in Ukraine, and has offered Putin aid and comfort.

          • Psalms13626

            In fairness ro Orban, Putin is the only one who is not sh!tting on you for your desire to keep Hungary free of the Muslim invasion. When you are a small country with not many natural resources with population roughly that of Metropolitan Chicago you don’t get to be too choosy as to who is your friend. Not everyone lives in a super power whose territorial integrity is not being (currently) challenged.

          • Tom

            Problem with that thesis, appealing though it is, is that Orban was cozying up to Putin long before the migrant crisis went down.

          • CheckYourself

            And? European and North American countries do business with Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, you name it. You don’t get to do billions per year in business with the Chinese communist party and then complain about somebody “cozying up” to putin. Americans especially have to keep their pie holes shut. In 1994, Bill Clinton flip flopped from his previously harder stance and literally made a speech about delinking chinas human rights record from MFN (most favored nation) status for purposes of business.

          • Tom

            Why not? Orban has been trading with Russia, sure–I wouldn’t find that a problem. However, he’s also been doing his best to hobble any kind of response to Russia’s mucking around in Ukraine.

          • CheckYourself

            So what? US and EU like to “muck around” maaaannnyy countries. US and EU support Saudi bombing the poorest people on earth in Yemen. US and EU don’t do much of anything about China building fake islands, attacking fishing boats of others, or occupying Tibet (to hold billions hostage for water), in fact they invite Xi Jinping to give the keynote at Davos.

          • Unelected Leader

            As it pertains to China, and all of the massive failures in US policy towards it for the last 50 years, I apportion blame like this.
            Nixon and Kissinger 20% for getting the ball rolling down the road to failure.
            Loser Carter 50% for partially breaking the treaty with Taiwan and officially recognizing the communist party on the mainland (remember that from 1949-1979 the US didn’t officially recognize it).
            Pervert Loser Clinton 25% for “delinking” (his word) human rights from any further business attachments, as well as working hard for the CCP in the late 90s convincing Europeans to let them join the WTO, and the orderly disastrous permanent normalize trade relations (PNTR) later in 1998.
            Bush, obama and now Trump share the 5% blame for not undoing the damage.

          • CheckYourself

            I think I agree with those numbers. Although I might even want to drop Kissinger/Nixon to 15 and raise bubba to 30.

          • Psalms13626

            To echo what others wrote, ALL countries, including the US throughout its history, dealt with really unpleasant regimes and characters. That’s called living in the world as it is, not as we want it to be. If US, a geographically protected superpower, has to deal with people stoning women can we really judge a small country in a rough part of the world cozying up to somebody who shares their Eastern European values.
            But to my original point, do you think Pait’s not mentioning of any of these intricacies and immediately going into his “everything not Leftwing is bad and evil” mode helps us to gain the full understanding of what is going on? I personally find exchanges of opinion that we are having now to be far more productive than blind partisanship and tribal affiliation.

          • StudentZ

            “I personally find exchanges of opinion that we are having now to be far more productive than blind partisanship and tribal affiliation.”

            That’s a nice sentiment, but you started by launching an ad hominem attack against the author based solely on your dislike of the Obama administration (you may have had justifiable criticisms, but you were clearly speaking to an audience who either shared your bias or would be provoked into fighting with you about it.) Similarly, you dismissed Pait’s comments as being left-wing, despite the fact that his words here did not actually betray his party affiliation. Perhaps, you know him from his other posts, but you are the one putting everyone in groups instead of actually debating what is being said. Perhaps there is some greater history behind that of which I am unaware, but to the outsider, you are the one attacking people for partisan reasons, so it’s up to you to foster the sort of conversations you desire.

            I will add that I am most certainly left of center, and if you feel you can’t see beyond that, so be it. I come here for the articles, not the commentary, but I wouldn’t mind having a thoughtful chat with people of different persuasions (when I have the time, though I usually don’t). For the most part, though, plenty of people in this forum are friendly to conservative perspectives, so stop pretending you are being persecuted by a small minority.

          • StudentZ

            “I personally find exchanges of opinion that we are having now to be far more productive than blind partisanship and tribal affiliation.”

            That’s a nice sentiment, even if it’s not reflected in your own comments.

          • Psalms13626

            You didn’t detect just a tiny bit of partisanship in Pat’s comment? You should learn how to comprehend what you read better.

          • StudentZ

            No, not really, but you could always explain how his comment reflects uncompromising partisanship. It’s true that he’s criticizing the actions of a former congressman who was a Republican, but he doesn’t mention his political affiliation. He is not addressing the congressman as a representative of the Republican party, nor is he condemning the Republican party for his actions. There is also nothing in his comment to suggest animosity towards a particular party or a selective interpretation of Mack’s actions that would not apply to others (e.g., Democrats) in comparable situations.

            You could claim that the arguments against Mack and the threat to U.S. interests are overblown, but the article gives ample reasons for the reader to criticize Mack. You could claim Piat was too quick to accept Melia’s perspective, but that would also be the shortcoming of a reader with no exposure to bias at all who has no reason to doubt the first story he reads. In that case, wouldn’t it be more enlightening to provide a counter perspective instead of condemning the reader?

            Perhaps you and Piat have a history, so I shouldn’t meddle. To an outsider, though, nothing in Piat’s four sentences justifies your conclusion that he is embracing “a simple Leftwing = good not Leftwing = bad paradigm,” so you seem to be the one picking a partisan fight. Therefore, it seemed to be totally up to you to abandon past grievances if you sincerely wanted to freely share ideas.

          • Psalms13626

            Brevity is the soul of wit. Condense what you wrote into three sentences. Four at most. Otherwise you are howling in the wind.
            For what’s it worth, Pait is a known TDS sufferer on these boards.
            If you don’t like what I write, ignore it or block me. Or write multiple paragraphs that I won’t read. The choice is yours. I hope you choose wisely.

          • StudentZ

            Trump has shown us that brevity is most certainly not the soul of wit. Pithy declarations are the refuge of those who try to mask their ignorance with provocative statements that mean nothing. You only had to read the first sentence and explain why Pait was being partisan. My post was less for your benefit and more for others who might buy your self-professed mission to defend the art of open-minded discourse when you are in fact being a partisan provocateur.

          • Psalms13626

            Oh goodie….. Another person who like to explain to others what a secretly bad person I am. Have at it. You are like the 3rd person who is doing it right now. That’s pretty funny and one of the reasons I try to deliberately provoke a certain type of a busybody whose job it is to correct everyone. Let’s have some fun, my intrepid young friend. Let people form their opinions of us.

          • Paul Lies

            My great grandpa was a well-read and highly skilled old man by the time he left us at 95. I remember him always telling us to say our piece “simply and quickly” and that “they’ll ask you for more if they want it.” Of course, he also said “most people talk enough for two, so keep your mouth shut unless it’s really good.”

          • StudentZ

            1. Attack the author for being a snobby elite, brainless liberal, corrupt Obama shill, useless intellectual, etc.
            2. Ignore the actual content of an article or argument by making broad unrelated statements about evil immigrants, Muslims, left-wingers, communists, etc. that reflect your personal prejudices.
            3. Hypocritically condemn others for being as narrow-minded and provocative as you (if not less so).
            4. Deflect criticism by patronizing your critics while largely ignoring their arguments or questions.
            5. Pretend you are being unjustly persecuted in a forum whose members largely support your worldview.

            Congratulations! You have successfully completed the steps to becoming a troll!

          • StudentZ

            For the record, I was not actually trying to pick a fight with you. I was just annoyed. For the most part, I like reading the articles here and some of the comments, as well, but the hatred and hostility shock me every time. Why can’t people object to arguments instead of actual people? Did criticizing the content of the article require attacking the author? In my frustration, I came close to attacking you and that is not what I wanted to do. For that, I’m sorry.

          • Tom

            How, exactly, does getting involved with Russia keep Hungary more secure than making nice with, say, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland?

          • Psalms13626

            Look at the relative size and military power of Slovakia vs. Russia.

          • Tom

            And look at the geography of Slovakia vs. Russia, unless you think Hungary needs someone to keep an eye on Ukraine for it.

  • Jonathan Dembo

    Orban is clearly an Hungarian nationalist and Soros, an Hungarian-born, naturalized American, billionaire, is clearly an international anti-nationalist who has campaigned against Orban’s government. But Mr. Mack is perfectly within his rights to represent Mr. Orban just Mr. Soros has a perfect right to spend millions against Mr. Urban. So far as I can see everybody is acting lawfully, and merely expressing their views. If Hungary wants to change its policies and does so democratically, there is no reason for Americans to object or worry. There is no story here. Just fake news.

    • Psalms13626

      It is a well-known of Obama’s Administration dislike of Mr. Orban. The fact that a high ranking diplomat from that administration is know slinging mud at Orban is to be expected. Given the number of “successes” under Obama, I don’t really give a [email protected] about opinions of his flunkeys.

      • Jonathan Dembo

        I opposed most of Mr Obama’s policies, including his dislike of Orban and his policies. But that is not at issue here since Mr Trump has abandoned most of Mr Obama’s policies. This is a case of one foreign agent criticizing another foreign agent for being a foreign agent. They have a perfect right to say what they want but their arguments are purely self-serving and don’t really help anyone decide what is the best policy for the US.

  • Psalms13626

    Thomas O. Melia is the worst example of an expert. This is somebody who was a senior diplomat during most of the Obama era, an era that gave us current conditions in Eastern Europe with the Ukrainian perma-conflict, rise of ISIS, disintegration of Iraq, and a flood of Central Americans into the US. This person looks at that record and says to himself: You know something, I know a thing or two about a thing or two. And then elites wonder why no one really takes them seriously. It’s rewarding failure stupid.

  • Gábor Erik

    “Hypocrisy may be the only consistent guiding principle of US foreign
    policy. Here’s a prime example of the “do as we say, not as we do” that
    is the core of how Washington does business overseas: In the same week
    that the the US Justice Department demanded
    that the Russian-backed RT America network register as a foreign
    propaganda entity or face arrest, the US State Department’s Bureau of
    Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DNL) has announced that it is launching a program to massively interfere in NATO-partner Hungary’s internal media.

    So
    the US Justice Department is cracking down on RT America for what it
    says is manipulation of US domestic affairs while the US State
    Department announces a new program to manipulate Hungary’s domestic
    affairs.

    The State Department’s new program would send
    three-quarters of a million dollars to Washington-selected Hungarian
    media outlets to “increase citizens’ access to objective information
    about domestic and global issues in Hungary.” On what authority does the
    United States pick winners and losers in Hungary’s diverse media
    environment? Since when does one government have the right to determine
    what news is “objective” in another country? Hungary is not a country to
    be “regime-changed” — it is a full democracy where the will of the
    people is regularly expressed at the ballot box and where the media
    competes freely in the marketplace of ideas. ”

    http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2017/november/10/manipulation-the-us-state-departments-new-program-to-take-on-hungarian-media/

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