Because it had already been experimenting with a mixed economy, Hungary’s transition to capitalism was less painful than other East-Central Europe communist states.
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
For most countries in East-Central Europe, capitalism didn’t arrive overnight in 1989 or 1990. Even in the more controlled environments like Romania, people could get a taste of capitalism by buying or trading on the black market. Hungary, on the other hand, was far ahead of its neighbors in this respect. It had been experimenting with a mixed economy since 1968 and the New Economic Mechanism. Following a push for recentralization in the early 1970s, another round of liberalization opened up the economy after 1979. By the early 1980s, the government was even permitting small-scale private enterprise in the retail sector and for services like taxis.
By 1988, with Ceausescu squeezing the Romanian economy to pay back its foreign debt and Albania as isolated as ever, Hungary was beginning to train its first Western-style managers. Zsuzsanna Ranki was a pivotal person behind the training of a new managerial elite. She’d started out in foreign trade marketing and eventually acquired a PhD in economics from a Hungarian university. And in 1983, she was the first Hungarian to receive an MBA — at Indiana University.
An interview with Russ Bellant, author of “Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party.”
Yaroslav Stetsko, an OUN leader during World War II, meets George H.W. Bush.
As the Ukrainian crisis has unfolded over the past few weeks, it’s hard for Americans not to see Vladimir Putin as the big villain. But the history of the region is a history of competing villains vying against one another; and one school of villains—the Nazis—have a long history of engagement with the US, mostly below the radar, but occasionally exposed, as they were by Russ Bellant in his book Old Nazis, The New Right And The Republican Party (South End Press, 1991). Bellant’s exposure of Nazi leaders from German allies in the 1988 Bush presidential campaign was the driving force in the announced resignation of nine individuals, two of them from the Ukraine, which is why he was the logical choice to turn to illuminate the scattered mentions of Nazi and fascist elements amongst the Ukrainian nationalists, which somehow never seems to warrant further comment or explanation. Of course most Ukranians aren’t Nazis or fascists—all the more reason to illuminate those who would hide their true natures in the shadows…or even behind the momentary glare of the spotlight.
Despite the Western claim that the dispute with Iran over nuclear research rests on it, the NPT is largely a means of maintaining Western nuclear-weapons superiority.
Cross-posted from the Colorado Progressive Jewish News.
The latest negotiations between Iran and the U.S. (the so-called 5+2) for a long-term comprehensive nuclear agreement have ground to a halt. This is due to Washington’s last-minute insistence on adding new conditions to the talks to resolve “past and present concerns” about the “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. and International Atomic Energy Association (I.A.E.A.) charge is based on what the Iranians claim to be fabricated documents that neither Washington nor the I.A.E.A. are willing to share with Teheran for investigation. In his 2012 memoir, Mohamed ElBaradei disclosed such documents to be a part of a whole series provided to Washington by Israel.1 A cursory glance at the I.A.E.A., its tenets and philosophy will help clarity the essentially “colonial disputes” in the current situation.
In Part One of this series we pointed out that the history of Iranian Nuclear development has been known to the I.A.E.A. and the West from the beginning. Although it is often repeated as something approaching a mantra, the assertions that Iran has been secretive about its nuclear project or that it has moved towards military objectives are nothing more than a myth. As of yet there is no credible evidence to support such contention. In this part we intend to focus on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (N.P.T.) and its history.
Trade relations between India and Pakistan remain hostage to hostility between the two states.
Rivals from World War, France and Germany are today top trading partners. Till last year France was Germany’s biggest export destination. Brazil, despite a history of political hostility with Argentina, is both the former’s principal export destination and import source. While these two examples reinforce the logic of neighbors being natural trade partners, two countries in Asia fail to see logic. Trade relations among two of South Asia’s infamous geopolitical adversaries, India and Pakistan remain hostage to political bickering to this day. Ironically, at the time of independence, presumably the time around which political tensions started to build up (only to be allowed to escalate over the years by governments on both sides of the disputed border), India accounted for 70% of Pakistan’s trade.
Jordanians protest both Israeli soldiers shooting Amman magistrate court judge Ra’ed Zu’eiter and King Abdullah’s lack of a response.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II
Israeli soldiers shot and killed an unarmed Jordanian judge on Monday at the Allenby bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank after reportedly arguing with Israeli border guards on his way back to Amman from the West Bank. Official Israeli statements claimed that the judge “tried to seize the soldier’s weapon when he was shot and killed.” Jordanian press reported on eyewitness accounts that contradicted the Israeli version of events and said that the judge “was never physically threatening the soldiers,” and “was unarmed when he was shot from a point-blank range.” The Jordanian Ministry of Justice identified the man as Ra’ed Zu’eiter, 38, a judge in the magistrates court in Amman.
Angry Jordanian citizens protested the killing by demonstrating at the Israeli embassy in Amman demanding its closing and kicking the Israeli ambassador out from Amman. Jordanian newspapers also reported that protesters criticized Prime Minister Abdullah Ennsour for not taking strong measures against Israel in retaliation to the killing of judge Zu’eiter. The Al Jazeera Arabic website reported that protesters went as far as criticizing King Abdullah II, who has yet to issue a public statement, and did not comment publically on the shooting death of one of his citizens.
The more party members Stalin killed, the more he thought he had to kill.
In 1968 Macmillan Company published Robert Conquest’s The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties, which was quickly acknowledged as the authoritative work on the subject. I’ve just finished reading the fortieth anniversary edition titled The Great: A Reassessment (Oxford University Press, 2008), which is slightly revised and contains a new preface (as well as the old preface and an introduction). If you’re only dimly aware that Russia in the 1930s was the source of all totalitarianism since ― in recent years, think Saddam Hussein and North Korea’s Kim dynasty ― reading this book is essential to understand just how pervasive terror was in Russia during that time. Even after the show trials and purges receded from their peak years, terror continued to serve as Stalin’s go-to technique for eliminating opposition within the party, fortifying his rule, and controlling the state.
Is Russia’s occupation of Crimea expansionism or a response to NATO squeezing its border?
Is the Russian occupation of the Crimea a case of aggressive expansionism by Moscow or is it aimed at blocking a scheme by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to roll right up to the Russia’s western border? WikiLeaks has revealed a secret cable describing a meeting between French and American diplomats that suggests the latter, a plan that has been in the works since at least 2009.
Titled “A/S Gordon’s meeting with policy makers in Paris,” the cable summarizes a Sept. 16, 2009 get-together between Philip Gordon, then assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and French diplomats Jean-David Levitte, Damien Loras, and Francois Richier. Gordon is currently a special assistant to President Obama on the Middle East.
The case of Sovietologists’ inability to foresee the end of the Soviet Union grows curiouser and curiouser.
The crisis in Ukraine continues. Russian soldiers are in Crimea, and there are suggestions from Moscow that Eastern Ukraine might be next. Russian lawmakers are rushing to draft legislation that will legalize the expropriation of assets from American and European companies doing business in Russia. Pundits are warning that a new Cold War is upon us. And I keep thinking about a crazy conspiracy theory I once heard.
Over the eighteen years that I have been studying East Europe, I’ve heard many wild conjectures about how things are not what they seem in the post-communist second world. Instead, there are secret plots by dark suited men in shadowy rooms. Back in 2008, a Bulgarian friend laid out the biggest conspiracy theory of them all.
Which is more of a threat to a nation’s safety ― untrammeled gun “rights” or a nukes program?
A nuclear weapon and a gun may be far apart on the arms spectrum, but they’re more alike than not. They’re both designed to kill by setting off detonations – one massive, the other miniaturized. Both depend, also to different degrees, on deterrence for their effectiveness. What’s more, the imperative to “go forth and propagate” seems to inform both nuclear proliferation and the profusion of guns. But nuclear disarmament and gun control are difficult to enact in the United States because nuclear-weapons advocates and pro-gun campaigners twist the law, in the form of treaties and the Constitution, to their own ends.
Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calls for negotiations on “measures relating to nuclear disarmament,” as well as “a treaty on general and complete disarmament” (an umbrella term that covers conventional weapons and the arms trade, as well as nuclear weapons). While nuclear disarmament and gun control run on different tracks, it might be useful to compare and contrast them in hopes of shunting nuclear weapons and guns to the same rail yard. Once there – if on timetables reflecting their force differential – they can finally be decommissioned.
Workers in Hungary were forced to resort to road closures to bring the government to the negotiating table.
Cross-posted from JohnFeffer.com.
One of the memorable events of the Hungarian transition period was the day that the taxi drivers went on strike. It was October 1990, and the economic changes were starting to bite. After the Soviet Union cut back oil shipments to Hungary, the government in Budapest dramatically raised the price of gas. In response, taxi drivers and teamsters essentially shut down the country over a three-day period. It was just a taste of what was to come in terms of austerity measures.
But how the strike ended was equally important. The government sat down with representatives of employers and employees and hammered out an agreement. This National Reconciliation Council was Hungary’s attempt to create a tripartite system that would advance economic development with a measure of social harmony. That council remained in place for more than 20 years.