If Orbán is Good, then he is not Good enough. He is quasi-Good; he is semi-Good. He is the margarine of Good. He is the Diet Coke of Good. Just one calorie. Not Good enough.
That aside, Orbán still occasionally demonstrates perspicacity transcending the sycophantic, servile, intentional obtuseness dominating the West. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Orbán’s sober assessment of the West’s chances of defeating Russia.
A couple of months ago, the Hungarian prime minister – who has, officially at least, positioned himself in opposition to the war from the get-go – bluntly stated that he considered it inconceivable that Russia can be defeated because it is a nuclear power.
Political commentators were quick to call out the short-sightedness of Orbán’s claim by referring to several conflicts in modern history when nuclear powers were indeed, for all intents and purposes, defeated. Vietnam for France and the United States, and Afghanistan for the U.S. and Russia. As undeniable as these examples are, they miss the mark concerning the main point Orbán attempted to make.
Nuclear powers have been defeated in conflicts that could be described as campaigns, but these defeats did not result in the total defeat of the campaigning nation as a military force or nuclear power. With this in mind, perhaps it is more precise to say that Russia cannot be conquered because it is a nuclear power.
If the past is any guide, Russia has a long history of being unconquerable, even when it was defeated. That it has become and remains a significant nuclear power makes it more unconquerable. Add the fact that the current conflict is a fundamentally existential struggle for Russia, and the prospects of successful conquest grow even dimmer.
To quote Orbán, “So to think that the Russians will sit back and watch themselves being defeated, their political system collapsing, their president being assassinated, drone attacks over Red Square, and so on, and that they will stand by and watch this happen and resign themselves to a military defeat, well, anyone who believes this has not grown up. This sort of thing only happens in fairytales, not reality.”
I am inclined to agree with Orbán’s assessment. Moreover, the stakes of the present conflict and the tactics the Russians may be willing to employ continuously bring the 2002 Nord-Ost siege to mind. During that crisis, 40 Chechens took 850 Dubrovka Theater patrons hostage in Moscow and demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya.
The crisis ended a few days later when Russian Special Forces stormed the theater and killed every Chechen hostage-taker. Most had been rendered unconscious by a mysterious gas the Special Forces had pumped into the building. The Russians showed no mercy and simply shot them dead wherever they happened to find them. The undisclosed chemical agent also killed 130 of the 850 theater patrons, which was stoically deemed an acceptable loss.
I raise this not as a criticism of Russia or Russian tactics. If anything, it merely serves as a reminder of the actions Russia is willing to take when its enemies attempt to press its back against a wall. That its enemies continue to display increasingly Sorathic tendencies only strengthens Russia's resolve.
Defeating is one thing. Conquering is something else entirely.