April 12, 2018

The Dish | April 10, 2018

By Julianne Smith and Jim Townsend

Welcome to The Dish! Curated by the CNAS Transatlantic Security Team, the Dish sends you the latest in transatlantic relations once a week. If this is your first time receiving the Dish, click here to sign up!

April 10, 2018

  • Orban Renewal: The results are in and to no-one’s surprise Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hard right Fidesz party won a supermajority in the Hungarian Parliament, which is his third successive electoral win. The turnout reached 70 percent and the lines to vote were long as you can see in this video tweeted by Agi Maczko. While Fidesz only won 48 percent of the vote, they still took home 133 seats—a supermajority. The Fidesz campaign focused primarily on populist fears: immigrants, freemasons, Brussels and anti-Semitism (dog whistles being the Rothschilds, George Soros, and speculators). Orbán proclaimed that his victory provided “the chance to defend Hungary.” Fidesz’s slogan “For us, Hungary is first!” sounds uncomfortably familiar. In an interview with Die Welt, GPPI’s Thorsten Benner provides a clear-eyed perspective on what happened Sunday night and what it means. Said Benner, “For Orbán, the direction for the coming four years is crystal clear: deepening his project of an “illiberal state” at the heart of the European Union.” Perhaps Fidesz MEP Gyorgy Schopflin sums it up, telling Politico Europe’s Election Playbook that Orbán’s victory is “a rejection of the hyper-liberalism that claims a hegemony over European politics and to that extent is more than a Hungarian event.” Sounds like something Steve Bannon would say.
  • But I Failed Stats the First Time!: You don’t need to be a stats nerd to appreciate a different perspective on the EU presented by the European Council on Foreign Relations and Stiftung Mercator. Called the EU Cohesion Monitor, it is part of the ECFR’s Rethink: Europe project. “The EU Cohesion Monitor is an index of the 28 member states of the European Union describing their readiness for joint action and cooperation through a measurement of the individual ties between Europeans and structural connections between societies at large. It uses ten cohesion indicators to measure past and current levels of cohesion and thereby illustrates national trajectories and hints at future potentials for stronger cooperation in Europe.” The Dish staff is still trying to absorb it, but you should check it out too; the U.S. could use a dose of this analysis. 
  • False Flag: Someone’s Spotify account was canceled at the New York Stock Exchange after they hung the Swiss flag rather than the Swedish flag outside the famous Wall Street building in honor of Spotify's listing on the Stock Exchange (it’s headquartered in Stockholm). Is it because the flags are so similar? ... or perhaps it was the fact that both nations begin with Sw? But to help the NYSE with their flag recognition, this infographic sorts national flags by their age, with the stars and stripes being the third oldest flag. Check out the oldest flag. It’s a Nordic flag, so I hope the NYSE doesn’t get confused.
  • Clarity or Con-Fusion?: Last week we mentioned in passing that No. 10 released its much-delayed National Security Capability Review. The defense strand of the work has been largely spilt out, and a separate program of work is going ahead. But the NSCR did contain something potentially significant – a new doctrine. Is a doctrine bigger than a strategy? The Dish presumes that depends on how rigidly it is enforced. The doctrine says that capabilities that can contribute to national security lie outside traditional national security departments and that going forward Britain would now not only use them but also measures ranging “from economic levers, through cutting-edge military resources to our wider diplomatic and cultural influence on the world’s stage.” There is even a snazzy diagram. Some of this is no doubt hyping bureaucratic changes into something more meaningful. And being clear about using all ends available to deliver means. But the Dish would be a little concerned if it resulted in a weaponized BBC. Or a trade war…
  • Small Bites:
    • The UK has established a Naval Support Facility in Bahrain, its first base there since 1971; Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, told Arab News, “Houthis and other terrorist groups, which are supported by Iran will be under close watch in the international waters thanks to the opening of the new facility.”
    • The State Department authorized a proposed FMS sale to Germany of 4 MQ-4C drones for $2.5 billion. (French Ambassador to Brazil Michel Miraillet tweets, “For sure an expensive maglight”) But, we would add, sorely needed!
    • Paris and Berlin will announce at the Berlin Air Show (April 25-29) that they are moving forward with joint development of a new generation fighter slated for delivery in 2040 to replace Rafale and Typhoon; the project will include participation by Airbus, Dassault, Thales, MBDA and Safran (can the U.K. play too?).
    • Dutch White Paper: The Hague published an important and welcomed White Paper laying out its plan to strengthen the Dutch armed forces. According to the MOD announcement, “this Defence White Paper is not a destination, but the start of a journey along a path that determines the direction for the future. A future in which the Netherlands once again has a healthy military force, robust and agile.” Improvements will include weapons system modernization, new ship procurement, info ops, and increasing the deployability of their aircraft and helicopters. Dish staff hopes they also buy their tanks back.
  • The Dish Quick Reads: These articles, a sampling of European articles by Aaron Mehta in Defense News, were pinging around cyber space over the past week; download them for your next airplane flight:
  • Birthdays: Last week was a big week for the first stirrings of U.S. leadership during the early days of the Cold War: NATO turned 69, and 70 years ago President Truman signed the Foreign Assistant Act of 1948 (better known by the name of the Secretary of State who announced it as the Marshall Plan). You didn’t think he came up with it all by himself, did you?
  • Brussels Sprouts: Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser took time out of his busy schedule during his recent visit to Washington to record a new episode of our podcast. The great conversation he provided touched upon the challenging and changing security situation facing his country and the value of NATO to Estonia. Be sure to give it a listen!


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