The United Arab Emirates’ liberal authoritarianism.
Is any phrase today more mellifluous than “our democracy”? At once sanctimonious, dishonest, and accusatory, there is almost no end to the way these two words are weaponized by our elites to gaslight, admonish, and offend. But for now, let’s focus on just one. An implicit assumption of those who use the phrase is that no other form of government works nearly as well—or is even, in the final analysis, legitimate.
These sentiments underlie our elites’ extraordinary hostility to those nations of central and eastern Europe that don’t toe the neoliberal line: above all Hungary, but really any outliers anywhere in the world.
I recently had a chance to see Hungary up close, as a visiting fellow at the Danube Institute. On the same extended absence from the United States, I also spent two weeks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), part of an American delegation led by Christian Whiton and Stephen Yates, two former colleagues from my days in the national security bureaucracy. The two countries appear at first glance to have nothing in common. Yet on reflection, I found similarities (and differences) with each other as well as with our own country that are worth considering in these troubled times.
Our elites don’t despise the UAE nearly as much as they hate Hungary. For one thing, the former is not European and so is not blamed for departures from up-to-the-minute