Ariel’s Atypical Administration

No situation is so bad that it cannot become worse, say disaster connoisseurs. One might have thought Haiti’s run of singular bad luck had crested under the father-and-son dictatorships of Papa and Baby Doc, during which state violence was liberally meted out by political enforcers known as the Tontons Macoutes. Various other governments have come and gone since, complete with their own praetorian guards of various ideological stripes. Though the transfer of power from one clique to another has never been strictly peaceful, nor the elections behind them strictly fair, the Haitian state had at least kept that most face-saving essential element of power: a (near?-)monopoly on force.

This is no longer the case. Hundreds perish every week in clashes between impressively well-armed gangs—despite the “best efforts” of the “international community.” In an eminently recognizable “spiral of violence” which theorists purport to precede full-fledged civil war. The potential for regional spillover is salient, particularly across the border to the Dominican Republic, which has had to repel 7 Haitian invasions since its independence—from Haiti.

Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s latest statements called for compassion of political nature while calling the situation “critical” (but not “desperate”). Trained in Neurosurgery, Henry’s medical metaphors flow freely in his public pronouncements: Haiti is “sick, but the diagnosis gives us certainty that we can revert the trend”. Having ascended to power just over a year ago—after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse in his domicile on July 7, 2021—he remains one of the main suspects as to the intellectual authorship of that state crime which put him in power.

Force, that central nub of state power, is not a market one wants to have competition in. Libertarians object to any use of it at all, though political theorists as varied as Catholic Saints through Communist apparatchiks find Justice-based reasoning to draw the sword on their fellow man. For Haiti’s competing oligopolists of force, that greatest Justification—legitimation of their power over their fiefs—remains out of reach.

The involvement of foreign powers has not, so far, given anyone much hope that such a solution will come from overseas. Turkey (of all places) seems to be holding onto one of the keys to the mystery of Moïse’s untimely end. The Biden administration remains steadfast behind Henry’s administration—but even Liberal, internationalist and orderly France doesn’t seem to be backing the same side. To say nothing of several other actors, ranging from Qatar to Cuba.

Ariel’s atypical administration faces a challenge few modern statesmen have had to deal with: given international recognition of statehood, as well as his own primacy over the territory, he must consolidate power like some medieval king—battling usurpers and hoping victory on the battlefield will look enough like Divine Right to give pause to his competitors. Holding elections in such a context would be a waste of everyone’s time. The last election was celebrated in 2016 and posted a turnout of circa 10%. Very little legitimacy can be derived from a process sure to be marred by violence, even lower turnout and a failing state apparatus without a legislature (all terms expired long ago) an unelected head of government and a judiciary which mainly serves as target practice for the various usurper forces. While their main concern is to ensure impunity for their criminal uses of organized force, they risk setting the stage for the rung of hell below even civil war: outright anarchy, the war of all against all.

Henry’s only silver lining remains precedent: every state in existence has gone through this baptism of fire on the way to a generalized, law-abiding peace. Whether he is at all interested in justice for his predecessor’s fate remains to be seen—although he can rest easy in precedent: many great statesmen who founded the nation-states which today grace God’s green Earth also resorted to such means in their quest for the crown—not least Haiti’s own revolutionaries.

He who lives by the sword


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


Featured: “Ville imaginaire (Imaginary City),” by Préfète Duffaut; painted in 1992.

Jupiterian Johnson: Median voters, Tories and the French

Once again Teflon John(son) proves how essential his self is to this cosmic mess the Good Lord sees fit to test us with. For Boris, the particulars are really quite pedestrian – just another scandal, just another broken rule – which by all rights, well… if none of the other scandals did him in, a surprise birthday cake surely wouldn’t have carried enough climax for BoJo, especially given recent jurisprudence on surprise birthday celebrations at work.

I wanted to bring this up as an example of a tragic trend – the failed baptism of fire, whereby a candidate (or just a regular person) is successfully (character)-assassinated despite being well above both the circumstances and the critics assailing them. Boris Johnson, Legend of Bullingdon, Editor of the Spectator, Father of 6(0?), Wankerer of Ankara, Mayor of London, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Deliverer of Brexit, etc etc… Felled by birthday cake?

The chance to go over his record is too good to pass up. Not only does he stand as a shining example of “Stick-to-it-iveness” for lesser mortals in need of inspiration on matters relating to perseverance, he has brought back sound government to the UK, channeling that eye of Sauron that is public attention toward the great issues of his day – leveling up Britain’s shire-heartland, where the first and second industrial revolutions brought together science and commerce, banishing scarcity in any number of areas (clothing, and then many more).

His government has made great strides in Migration policy, signing a migration partnership agreement with Rwanda which correctly aligned the rules of the international system – Rwanda is indeed a safe third country, which has every right to accept migrants on behalf of another country, in exchange for whichever sum is agreeable to both parties. One wonders if the organized criminals known as human traffickers will make the logical next move, which would be to sell Rwandan deportation insurance and open an office in Kigali for them to appeal to.

Boris is also doing the heaviest lifting for the West on keeping New Delhi onside – where Washington insists on alienating Narendra Modi unnecessarily over who knows what excuse (the real reason is Pakistani capture of the Democratic party, but that’s a story for another day). Par for the course on the Democrats’ inversion of all goodness, Modi’s stunning electoral victories (his party holds upwards of 80% of seats in the Indian Parliament) are somehow not democratic… presumably because it only counts when the left carries the day.

London is running point on the Ukrainian war, as well. Nobody has done more for the war effort than Britain’s MOD and the British spooks, to say nothing of Boris himself visiting Zelensky in Kiev. Zelensky himself has very harsh words for fair-weather friends trying to get a photo op out of his passing popularity on the world stage. Boris is not one of them, and the Ukrainians are lucky someone in the Free World has the Jupiterian nous to rally the rest of the pantheon in a coherent direction.

The other claimant to Zeus’ thundery crown – recently re-elected Emmanuel Macron – could learn a lesson or two from the Tory persuasion to find the center of every position, rather than present himself as the center. As the Median Voter Theorem predicted, he did sail to victory for being closer to the center, but Marine Le Pen found a way to drag ever more of France’s electorate toward her position – shifting the Overton window her way. Therein lies the lesson for Boris Johnson: Where his party might want him to govern by Opinion Poll (the great mistake of his predecessor, David Cameron) it is in moments like this where he must carry the public in his direction by the force of being correct on the substance of the issues.

In the spirit of a recent decision in America (Florida in particular) about mandatory masking – decided against the government’s power to do such a thing – I propose legislation amnestying all pandemic offenses and striking/refunding fines for all offenders. The spectacle of British Bobbies arresting people for sitting on park benches should really have been enough of a hint: After all, Boris’ original instinct – natural herd immunity – is now a provably less costly means of arriving at a better result. Closing the schools (which neither Sweden nor Ron DeSantis’ Florida did) is without exception the greatest harm committed by governments against their populations present and future. Official recognition of such mistakes cannot but restore trust in lawful, common-sense government administration.

Which brings me back to the feeble attempts for taking down Boris, that essential figure of our time. Dominic Cummings, who succumbed to a pandemic-related scandal regarding the sort of rules Boris is now on the record as having broken, no doubt stews in resentment – altogether a waste of his considerable talents, which would presumably be available once again after this blanket pardon. Other highfalutin satraps of 10 Downing Street have also been felled for having been at or around wine, crowds or otherwise found in violation of whatever the law happened to be on that particular day.

The meaning of a recent Florida court decision – striking down the Federal mask mandate – is that wags telling us we were wrong/criminal were themselves in violation of the law. They’ve done nothing to alleviate the “degraded trust” in institutions which institutionalists never tire of complaining about – before going on to waste whatever credibility they have left on enforcing rules everyone already knows aren’t worth a dime.

The highlighting of rampant thievery during the pandemic, and its swift prosecution by the authorities (particularly in contracting abuses, which is where the political geese will be gandered) must be a central plank of this effort. If ever there was a chance for folks like Dominic Cummings and Steve Bannon to dismantle the administrative state, this is it.

Pandemic Profiteering kept the lockdown racket going for much, much longer than it needed to. Bankers trying to make their yearly quotas 6 months early by placing bonds – to pay for unnecessary PPE and lots of vaccines for people who had already recovered once or twice from a virus that wasn’t even going to kill them anyway – locked into place a government policy that made them money on the backs of the populations they were stealing liberties from. Aping the Chinese communist party doesn’t make for good policy? Who would have guessed?

Those of us who remain unvaccinated even when it was illegal have something to say about unlawful birthday cakes. Take your laws and shove them.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


Zelensky’s Zauberer Zone: Quo Vadis, Ukraïna?

Once again a major question of international affairs fell on Germany to decide. After the denegation of overflight rights, prohibiting the use of weapons systems containing German-supplied components, and turning down a meeting with the White House in DC (which Berlin subsequently accepted), it is safe to say the status quo ante remains extant for Germany’s governing class where NATO is concerned. Seven years after the Obama administration delivered the NATO Wales summit commitment for the member states to spend no less than 2% of GDP on defense, Germany remains the biggest laggard in bringing to bear the full weight of its mighty economy for Allied priorities. Scholz’s recent promise to bump up spending is a welcome development, but being ready for this moment would have been better—and given years of broken promises on this same subject, no shortage of reasons for the subject to remain sore.

The Ukraine, on the other hand, would love to be in NATO; they said so themselves. The sticking point—a “Russian veto”—has already been applied not only De Jure but on the De Facto grounds of the Cypriot Precedent: A candidate country mustn’t have ongoing territorial conflicts (Sorry, Georgia, having a border with Russia is a hard lot). Let’s hope our rules-loving Kantian friends have considered the possibility of a Belarusian veto on the Ukraine. Dare one invoke a Polish veto on Belarusian membership? One does pray a Finnish veto on Russian membership may yet be stilled.

Developments in the nuclear domain, a more proximate cause of this back-and-forth, are welcome: Intermediate-range Nuclear weapons (IRBMs), the sort that the defunct INF treaty covered, combined with the hypersonic sleeve of recent vintage, deliver a new strategic situation wherever the feared THAAD (USA) and S-400 (Russia) air defense systems are deployed. Nuking a sky full of hostile warheads was always the best Moscow could come up with to counter Reagan’s “star wars.” A new INF treaty seemed inevitable, given the implications of the reduction of the nuclear response window to less than 10 minutes, to say nothing of the potential ballistic missile defense possibilities given hypersonic IRBMs in range of hostile nuclear delivery systems. As ever these developments augur more advances in spaceflight, it is safe to assume (and necessary to consider in strategic scenarios) that every advantage they provide will be brought to bear. If North Korea got them so quickly, they can’t be that hard to make.

Will Germany really deny any country the means to repel active nuclear aggression? Perhaps they should specialize in SAM battery manufacturing. But in the spirit of a recently uttered French argument (Britain’s economy should be less attractive to migrants) perhaps it is time to persuade Berlin to be less invadable. If America sank into the sea tomorrow and the law of the jungle returned to International Relations, Germany’s rich, technologically advanced, and militarily weak state would be one of the ripest plums for the picking by whichever barbarians decided to do so. But Germany insists on toxically holding America’s will live against it. Very sad!

The specter of Finlandization has often been summoned into the Ukrainian conversation, always with a negative declination. This attitude betrays the heroism behind Finnish independence, when most of “Eastern” Europe and the Baltics were absorbed into the Soviet empire after Lenin’s takeover of the Czar’s security state and Stalin’s creation of facts on the ground during the Great Patriotic War (WWII). Finland won its war against Communist imperialism by force of arms and maintained its independence in an extremely sticky situation (having a border with Russia is not something you volunteer for). Finland hasn’t joined NATO yet because it hasn’t needed to—it provides for its own defense (Germany, please take notes). Berlin’s “encirclement by friends” allows it to treat nations like Poland as buffer states for its own security, making everyone regret having allowed their reunification—we could have had a second Poland, inoculated against both Nazi and Soviet excesses by the long martyrdom of its people and their freedoms under both regimes.

As part of his justification for invasion, a highlight of Moscow’s propaganda was a live speech by President Putin where he surprisingly denounced (as communists, no less) Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev in terms general and with specific regard to their records on the Ukraine. Insofar as “Self-Determination of People’s” was a rhetorical backbone of the post-1917 revolutions, we see here a slow-motion repeat of Hungary’s 1956 uprising—Kiev turned away from Moscow in 2014 and the tanks have rolled in, dropping any pretense. The Spanish civil war tie in—international brigades come to the aid of both Stalinism and Franco’s Fascist Falange—put us in context. In the end, Kissinger’s position—Finlandization is the best Kiev can hope for—will remain the realist’s default.

And so we come to the Kabbalah which Prime Minister Zelensky—Tarot’s Jester risen to Emperor, as he must in our times—has to perform for his people. The only Jewish Head of Government outside of Israel, Zelensky must find the Zauberer (that’s German for Magician) within him to repeat the Finnish feat of the Winter War. Though most analysis considers all Russian intervention in the Ukraine (and places like Transnistria) as co-terminous, important distinctions must be drawn: Moscow had not claimed the Donbass as its own territory (the way it has with Crimea) and the forces it backs remain “little green men,” in that no state claims them. No less than the pacification Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics,” restoring Kiev’s sovereignty (read: Monopoly of Force) over its own territory, is necessary precondition to its ambition of joining NATO—it is the assertion of its statehood analogous to Finland’s own victory which Kiev requires to win the day.

Should Zauberer Zelensky manage to cast Kiev’s spell over the now-occupied Zones once again, the wind would be at his back. Whataboutism unfairly equating Moscow and Kiev will be quieted by the most certain guarantee of Good Government: true love for the people one is responsible for, which Putin has definitively renounced by resorting to force. The inhabitants of the areas currently ruled by the sort of rent-extractive, barbarous warlords Moscow backs have always deserved better. At that point, the Ukraine may well remain “Finlandized,” or it could trade victory on the battlefield—facts on the ground—for Moscow’s veto-abstention on Kiev’s EU and NATO memberships. With a bit of the Jester’s special Providence, Kiev might even carry the day for Helsinki and Stockholm to join as well.

It is too early to predict what new realities can be summoned into existence—first, these political questions must be settled by transmuting them into reality through other means than the Logos. To ascend fully into his role of Zauberer, Zelensky must get into the Zone—And stay there.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


Featured image: “Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine,” by Garyck Arntzen, 2021.

A Priti Big Mess: Macron’s Migrant Malarkey

It is election season in Europe and the big fish political heavyweight of the continent has its biggest contest coming up. France, traditionally the leader of whichever variable geometric coalition of European capitals has come together to get things done, is up for grabs. Le Palais de l’Élysee, France’s White House, appoints the powerful Prime Minister who heads the government, while le Président can fan out into the international community, with his all-powerful pen-and-phone decree setup Générale De Gaulle left as a centralized power broker to rival Sun King Louis XIV (L’État, c’était lui – maintenant c’est Macron).

Whether it is your yearly Climate conference, the Davos WEF hobnobbery, UNGA week in NYC or whichever EU traveling circus in between—France’s presidency is set up to maintain the V’ème République’s status as a diplomatic superpower. Possessed of a nuclear force de frappe numbering in the hundreds (with a fully operational nuclear triad spread out over its considerable overseas possessions) to say nothing of the enviably integrated European Space program—Paris is the unquestioned military heavyweight on the continent, moving on the say-so of the office that also includes a ceremonial role as co-prince of Andorra.

No wonder Emmanuel Macron wants to keep the seat for another 5 years. And yet, where he easily strolled into the job last time—cannibalizing the traditional centre-right and centre-left—it turned out stabbing his mentor François Hollande in the back was a good move: The anointed successor of Macron’s predecessor didn’t even break double digits. A second round against Marine Le-Pen had him a shoo-in for victory.

Having naturally moved rightwards from the Socialist party government Macron had been Finance minister for, he seems intent on repeating David Cameron’s 2015 trick of securing a majority by uniting the right of France’s political spectrum. Such a feat would be admirable and necessitate some manner of negotiation with Éric Zemmour, who may well find himself in the one position that prevents any such deal: Second-round opponent. Le-Pen and Valérie Pécresse, the freshly-minted nominee for the centre-right Républicains will be splitting the right with them in fully four directions, and that’s without counting other patriotic, sovereigntist rightist forces of Gaullist persuasion, of which there are a couple more.

Cameron’s pledge to host a referendum on EU membership if given a majority in Westminster was an admirable way to grasp a nettle, though much less courage was on hand when faced with the prospect of having to keep the promise. Macron’s record and governing agenda is handicapped on this count: as a central force of globalism, he will struggle to move the soul of the people Cameron called “fruitcakes and loonies”—a basket of European deplorables who might have been in the market for a French version of Cameroonian “eurorealism.”

An unlikely ally in his quest for a muscular, nationalist political profile is a cabinet minister across the channel: the Right Honourable Priti Patel, Her Majesty’s Home Secretary. No less an authority on the matter, as the President of Belarus recently pinpointed France’s export of irregular migrants in the UK’s direction as a geopolitical stab against the international order. Such behaviour is uncharacteristic of the sort of country that aspires to diplomatic leadership and is therefore suspect to having ulterior motives. Where the winter months usually evince a reduction in sea-based migrant flows due to increased danger, there doesn’t seem to have been any let-up in human trafficking from the Calais side of the English Channel this year. Despite pro-forma protestations from French officials (“become less attractive economically” is not a solution) the only explanation seems to be Macron’s preening for political gain.

Why Priti Patel would lend Dover’s white sandy beaches to such domestic subterfuge is anyone’s guess. Her rhetoric has never disappointed the hardline immigration restrictionists on either side of the pond, although Nigel Farage has taken the trouble to keep the spotlight on her lack of bite to back up her bark. The results so far are an abuse of Britain’s search-and-rescue civilian distress relief corps, a volunteer-based NGO which is stretched thin enough as to miss the 27 recently-departed migrants who paid the cost of Emmanuel Macron’s political needs.

Candidates like Zémmour should take the chance to defeat a common globalist talking point—that nationalists are incapable of international cooperation. The globalist failure on borders and irregular migrants is one of the most glaring examples of their incapacity for good government, and the correct solution remains to send lawbreakers to their country of origin or a country willing to accept the responsibility for doing so.

Say a prayer for the English Channel. The source of Britain’s world-famous fish-and-chips is rapidly becoming a staging ground for information operations of political nature. It’ll be left to the people to figure out the mess.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


Featured image: “Migrants,” by Laurence Blanchard, painted in 2020.

A Love Letter To Aleksandr Lukashenko

From a recent conversation with a (European) friend I gleaned a telling insight – The North Korea of Europe, he said referring to Belarus. It belied a characteristic failure of the modern European – that Last Man of Nietzschean provenance – to grasp the nettle he’s being offered.

Just as Comrade Kim Jong Un was born to his father’s favourite concubine, Comrade Lukashenko had already clocked in years as a Communist Party Member in the Byelorossiyan Soviet Socialist Republic. Many quiet summers in Switzerland still awaited one of these leaders in the years to come, while the other would have to survive through the collapse of the scrap heap of a hierarchy he belonged to – coming out of that chaos the leader of his people, whether they want him or not.

Becoming a true Soviet Man, Lukashenko gained election to the Belarusian legislature just in time to be in position for the descent into precisely the sort of chaos KGB agents would always set off when trying to install a communist regime somewhere. He knew exactly how to play this fluid political situation, having studied at the Party School how Stalin’s squad of spooks flipped Eastern Europe for the Proletarian Revolution – before meeting Col. Franco’s reaction in Spain. Shortly after, the world dropped the pretense of these clandestine, irregular hybrid warfare actions and set off World War II. Stalin soon dropped the pretense as well, sending the tanks into Hungary in 1952, a tacit admission that “exporting the revolution” was not as organic as Lenin had promised. Lukashenko’s life had prepared him for the moment he found himself in – he knew the 1990’s were a time ripe for pretense. He won the Belarusian presidency on an anti-corruption ticket, after all!

Languishing for a moment on my European friends: How could they not appreciate to be faced with such a foe? Brussels would have to invent Lukashenko if he didn’t exist. The Belarusian Boss’s latest gambit – synthesizing out of whole cloth a remix on Fidel Castro’s and Muammar Gaddafi’s weaponizing of migrant flows – has provided the latest spur to European integration. FRONTEX, a European Border force summoned into existence at the insistence of countries like Malta, Greece and Italy at the height of the migrant crisis (set off by, variously, Gaddafi’s heir-apparent(s), Bashar Al-Assad and the Sultan of Ankara himself) now finds another European Frontier to protect. This is a major victory for one side of an important argument, and for the existence of an institution that struggled to be born just a few years ago. But most of all, it is a throwing down of a gauntlet by a sparring partner whose very existence remains a test of every value the EU is supposed to immanentize into this earth through norms and good government.

Garnish and dwell on these personages of such varied color we must – but only to underline a point I’ve had to make a lot recently: There is a meaningful difference between Lukashenko, who has the actual, unreconstructed KGB going strong in Belarus to this day, and, say, a duly-elected Brazilian congressman who was also duly-elected to his presidency, over and above being stabbed in public by a communist agent-provocateur. The duly elected President of Turkey did engage in a bit of refugee diplomacy back when the Mediterranean was belching up toddler’s corpses at beach resorts in Greece, but the story of the power struggle in Brussels that time is for another day. Suffice it to say that I send my thanks in advance to Minsk for consolidating the axis of Intermarium nations through to the southern European Border states on the issue that most naturally unites them. I couldn’t have asked for better help against the euro-reds. To see him calling the BBC fake news (a quite mainstream position among my comrades-in-arms in the British Tory party) was a real delight.

Brussels, which talks a big game of having won the Cold War on its own and which is sometimes capable of taking credit for defeating fascism too, has in Lukashenko everything they could possibly wish for. Lukashenko was trained by the Rooskie spooks who had themselves been trained by the finest surviving Nazi spooks after WWII. He is the Stasi spook from The Lives of Others, live-recording the inside of your apartment and screwing your girlfriend with blackmail. Lukashenko benefited from the full glory of the last great improvement in surveillance technology (the telephone) and is present to witness this next great boom in cop shit we’re living through. Lukashenko will doubtless keep providing unique insight to his fellow autocrats on how to use all the newfangled gear for the same old-school aims: sowing fear, spreading lies and ruining lives. As per usual, it’s a matter of time before any new techniques reach American soil.

A ritual defeat of Lukashenko seems a necessary part of the EU’s destiny, but he’s come too far to just hand over. He’s going to make them work for it, and that’s the best possible thing he could do – Make Europe exercise its “External action” muscle until it looks like it’s lifted something in its life. Can one assume a narrative based on taking down Nazism and Communism would find it useful to see itself in the mirror of Minsk? It is too early to tell, but all indications point to, once again, the member states doing all the heavy lifting. The European Commission’s similarities to the Politburo might even find Aleksandr feeling on home turf!

It is of course the height of the European tragedy that such a moment be wasted on Josep Borrel and Ursula Von der Leyen – a Catalonian communist and an aristocrat from the landed gentry, respectively – when Brussels could have anti-communist heroes from (variously) the Baltics, the V4, former Yugoslavia or even (!) East Germany. The fish rots from the head down, and so the careerists in charge will try to claim victory in solving this problem the way Brussels always deals with migrant crises – Paying Erdogan to solve it for them. Indeed, per the BBC interview it seems Lukashenko had reason to believe he might be cut into Erdogan’s racket of hosting refugees in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Contributions to “global public goods” like running Internally Displaced People camps in Syria is all well and good for undemocratic but legitimate (in the eyes of the West) regimes such as Jordan and whoever it is running Lebanon this week. Lukashenko’s attempt to deliver an in-kind emulation of Turkey’s strategy (democratic but only debatably illegitimate), saw lines drawn along its NATO membership and heavy lifting – around 4m refugees on the Turkish side, and another 2m in IDP camps in the security corridor inside Syria. It is an open question whether this attempt by Belarus can be construed as a good faith attempt to ride the wave of sympathy for, say, afghans running away from the (undemocratic and illegitimate) Taliban regime, or if the intention really was to update the Mariel boatlift playbook, with low-cost airlines as geopolitical weapon.

An instructive bit of whataboutism Lukashenko wielded in the BBC interview – comparing police brutality in post-election protests to police brutality in the USA – should serve to remind that many of the anti-American slogans of today originated in KGB spin rooms dedicated to dividing America against itself, especially by racializing political conversation. An extended riff over the NGOs Lukashenko closed after the protests (“We’ll massacre all the scum you have been financing”) shows where the battle lines are drawn in these 4th generation warfare schemes, culminating in an incisive comparison between Macron’s weaponizing of migrants against London. Touché, said the body language of the interviewer, as well as the 27 drowned in the English Channel this week. Whataboutism? What about it?

Teasing out these contradictions in our own paradigms is essential work, and we owe Minsk that much at least. Denying Lukashenko the same deal Erdogan gets is a tacit endorsement of Ankara’s legitimacy, especially for those of us keeping score (surviving a coup is very good for ratings, you see). By way of revealed preference, it does serve to rank President Lukashenko, ordinally indexed on relevant normative distinctions, just above Nicolás Maduro (undemocratic, illegitimate and with a western-recognized government-in-exile).

A rough taxonomy, to be sure – but even Kim Jong-Un doesn’t have a parallel president running around speaking for his State.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


The featured image shows a painting of Aleksandr Lukashenko by Garyck Arntzen; painted in 2021.

Contra Merkel – The Climate Argument

With Angela “Mutti” Merkel’s coming resignation, a minor industry of (capital-L) Legacy “valedictory” salutes has come out of the woodwork. Who knew she was owed so many favours? In any case, a politician’s legacy is rarely decided during or immediately after her tenure – history’s sweep is long and unforgiving of all but the best propaganda.

Needless to say, Merkel’s career is far from over – she now graduates to that coveted elder statesman role – and will likely be following her old friend and fellow European Council member António Guterres (now UNSG) to lead some international body. In the interest of the polemic, however, such a candy-floss maquillage campaign should not be allowed to stand unchallenged – Merkel’s record is full of things to criticize, from her dawdling “strategic patience” to her worrying Ostpolitik with Moscow.

Lesser criticisms of Merkel’s tenure would focus on the migration crisis during which she allowed the indiscriminate entry of a 7-figure amount of mainly men of fighting age. Her Jupiterian command of other countries’ governments (and their budgets) during the Euro crisis is another focus of criticism. The details make for worse reading: censorship of sex crimes committed by migrants, the defenestration of Silvio Berlusconi and his Merkel-selected replacement. The blatant disregard for Greek democracy.

There are certainly better grounds to assail her record from: Merkel’s inability to bring Germany’s armed forces up to scratch remains a huge unaccomplished objective which can only really be explained by malice at this point – the consensus is that incompetence doesn’t explain any of her record, after all. Her forays into 4th generation warfare as a replacement (in Libya but especially in Ukraine) have met nothing but humiliation.

I do want to focus on one particularly rich vein of criticism of our beloved Ang – her failure to keep Germany’s climate commitments. The same Germany that was selling emissions-cheating cars to the rest of the world (including, especially, China, but I’ll allow a better pen than mine to cover Angela’s red tendencies) leads the industrialized laggards on decarbonization – all the while installing an unbelievably wasteful amount of solar and wind generation capacity. Breaking the famously efficient Energiewende, the grid now peaks at the wrong time and doesn’t have anywhere near the storage capacity necessary to make the most of the times the renewable generators do peak.

Much like Japan, Germany’s overreaction to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown resulted in political force being applied against the German nuclear industry, shuttering down perfectly safe (and clean!) base load generators that would end up replaced by much dirtier fossil fuel generation. Worse, a generation of nuclear talent – the most specialized kind of workforce you can imagine – has been wasted just when we need to roll out miniaturized nuclear reactors all over the world to rapidly decarbonize the world’s base power load.

That is certainly one regret I hope Merkel dedicates the rest of her career to ameliorating. It is clearly too early to be considering her legacy – Her multiple failed succession plans, from Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, through Ursula Von Der Leyen and now Laschet’s second-place finish in the election are just as much part of her record as taking credit for Mario Draghi’s good work at the ECB. I’d certainly hope our Kanzlerin will consider the lesser institutions of the international order, like the IAEA, where she can still try to make up for her Schulde in both energy policy and her beloved Iran.

This moment is valedictory for Merkel only in the sense that one graduates from the Gymnasium to the Universität. Her work is not done.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


The featured image shows a postcard of Angela Merkel.

A Euro-Chinese Redux: The Curious Case Of Viktor Orbán

Brussels can be a strange place. Where one day you see a Merovingian Christmas market, another day you’ll find farmers driving tractors to block a busy intersection in protest against some legislation. Kurdish and Uyghur groups take turns demonstrating against visiting dignitaries from their respective imperial capitals. And yet, while no mainstream eurocrat hesitates to condemn the alleged autocrat that rules Budapest, the only presence of the Hungarian tricolore belongs to that nation’s stately offices and official vehicles. For a country that commands as much attention as Hungary has over the last decade or so, it is a telling absence.

Going on his second decade at the head of that post-Soviet Republic, Orbán is often accused of being Trump-aligned – if only in superficial generalizations: Duterte-Bolsonaro-Erdogan-Putin strongman something-something. Incoherent as the criticism may be, remember that Orbán precedes the MAGA movement by over a decade. His highlight reel includes kicking out George Soros’ Central European University (despite taking his money as a young anti-Soviet agitator), winning multiple elections in a row, and setting the agenda for pro-family policies worldwide.

That being said, his government recently wielded the veto in Brussels’ byzantine voting mechanisms to protect Beijing from a number of Human Rights condemnations that Biden’s Washington expected no trouble with. China has long been able to wield such allies in the Brussels bubble, through the same mechanisms of elite capture they deploy in Washington – bribery and blackmail that would make Stalin’s spooks blush. Greece was once the primary vehicle for such lobbying back when taking copious amounts of Chinese money and selling off pieces of your country was still kosher – and when they really needed the cash.

For perspicacious readers looking for an answer as to why an anti-communist activist of the 1990s would flip on Washington so baldly, it helps to take a detour through another nominally “pro-Atlantic” European country: Germany. Angela Merkel – the only other leader whose rule compares to Orbán’s in (overlapping) chronological length – supposedly hates old Viktor. Strange as it might seem, their political parties shared – until just a few months ago – a caucus in the European Parliament. The European People’s Party, an umbrella of squishy center-right parties (most of them left of the DNC, but bear with me) really did all they possibly could to avoid losing Orbán’s meagre handful of seats. Just as well, since the European President (Angela Merkel’s former “defense” minister) couldn’t afford to lose 4 votes in 2019 when she was voted in.

As an illustration, consider Silvio Berlusconi’s loyal presence in that same EPP (for whom he is now an MEP). It didn’t halt his defenestration from the head of Italy’s government. Nominally felled by a sex scandal, signore bunga bunga’s famously libidinous antics came on the heels of an early (2011) refusal to accept responsibility for waves of migrants landing on Italian shores, after Hillary Clinton ruined Libya for no reason. Orbán, on the other hand, deployed barbed wire on his own border, forcing the Turkish migrant route to detour through the Balkans… and somehow managed to stay in place as Prime Minister through all that time.

Listen to the rhetoric from Merkel’s CDU politicians in Brussels and you might believe they really don’t get along. And yet, that pesky investigative shorthand ¬– cui bono? – points the finger at Berlin yet again. Hot on the heels of a hard-fought political victory over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Merkel’s stratagem of prioritizing Economics Über Alles bore fruit – at Kiev’s expense. Why would she stop? She’s winning so much; and while everyone is tired of it, Merkel’s only sign of stopping comes in her promised resignation after elections this year.

What’s curious is that Hungary won’t suffer at all, if Beijing starts commercially punishing the EU the way it has Australia and other pesky countries that don’t toe Xi Jinping’s line. Some window dressing about a Fudan University campus in Hungary shouldn’t fool anyone – Orbán knows full well what a terrible idea that is; and anyway it represents a minuscule economic gain, even for a relatively small economy like Hungary.

Germany, on the other hand, has its largest export market to lose. Over human rights? Bitte.

One is forced to consider that the expulsion of Orban’s Fidesz party from the EPP could have been all for show. Acting as a cat’s paw for Berlin’s economic interests, the severed link serving to point all fingers to that populist bugbear when useful idiocy must be deployed. Seeing as mainstream Washington is finally coming around to Germany’s clearly terrible record as an ally of the United States, one can only hope that the full story of these two Soviet-raised European leaders someday comes to the fore.

Who knows, maybe that whole showdown with Soros was all Kayfabe as well.


Felipe Cuello is Professor of Public Policy at the Pontifical university in Santo Domingo. He remains an operative of the Republican Party in the United States, where he served in both the Trump campaigns as well as the transition team of 2016/17 in a substantive foreign policy role. His past service includes the United Nations’ internal think tank, the International Maritime Organization, The European Union’s development-aid arm, and the office of a Brexiteer Member of the European Parliament previous to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. He is also the co-author and voice of the audiobook of Trump’s World: Geo Deus released in January 2020, back when discussing substance and principles were the order of the day.


The featured image shows, “Budapest – Parliament,” by Gyorgy Lantos, painted in 2017.