President Donald Trump welcomes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to the White House in Washington on May 13. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The answer to the question Anne Applebaum asked in her May 14 op-ed, “Why do conservatives now love autocrats?,” is obvious to anyone who has read “Democracy in Chains,” Nancy MacLean’s history of modern conservatism. Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary on whom Ms. Applebaum focuses, is doing exactly what the intellectual founder of modern conservatism, James M. Buchanan, envisioned: changing the culture and the political institutions of his country so that the common people cannot override political control by the rich and powerful.

The same Buchanan helped Augusto Pinochet change the constitution and the economy of Chile to bring about a condition similar to Hungary’s. Many of the moneyed interests that support current Republicanism pursue Buchanan’s model and his methods. The changes in Chile were so well designed that, almost four decades later, it has been impossible to reverse many of them, thus leaving democracy dramatically crippled.

Michael Biales, Acton, Mass.

In her May 12 Sunday Opinion essay , “Trump’s short attention span is destroying our foreign policy,” Anne Applebaum stated that “U.S. administrations have always had short attention spans, and the U.S. government has never had much of an appetite for drawn-out conflicts.” As I reflect on our long wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, I find it hard to comprehend this jaw-dropping assertion.

Dean B. Pineles, Washington