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Jurnalul Naţional, Romania

America’s Break from Traian Băsescu

By Radu Toma

Translated By Adriana Ioţcov

27 April 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Romania - Jurnalul Naţional - Original Article (Romanian)

After more than seven years, the deal between Romanian President Traian Băsescu and the U.S. seems to continue unperturbed in Washington. By means of his offer to install the American anti-missile shield in Romania, the thousands of soldiers he sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, the actions intended to monitor international terrorism, the air and maritime facilities provided to the U.S. Army and his support for U.S. diplomatic initiatives in Eastern Europe, Traian Băsescu has maintained his popularity in certain circles of the political bureaucracy in the American capital, and it seems that the Romanian president’s removal is not even imagined any time before 2014. The same occurs in the neighboring regions of Washington, the Pentagon and the information community.

In Bucharest, however, at the end of this seven-year period, the situation is completely different. The Romanian people have shredded the contract between Băsescu and Romania, which the former has ignored from top to bottom and whose official cancellation is just a short matter of time. Romania is economically and morally bankrupt, while the president has dropped to the second to last position in popularity surveys and is closely followed by only one category: “others — 2 percent.” An open and generalized hostility has replaced popular sympathy. It is the war of all against one. Nicolae Ceauşescu himself was probably not as lonely in December 1989 as Băsescu is today among his fellow citizens...

Nevertheless, the domestic bankruptcy of the Bucharest regime is not unique. A correct assessment of the favors that Băsescu granted to Washington, from the moment when he became president until now, reveals a great surprise: The services the Romanian president supplied to the U.S. brought the latter more ill luck and losses than advantages during the past seven years. The war in Iraq, where Băsescu was a “special ally” and personal “friend” (according to George W. Bush), brought forth claims of theft and corruption against the former [American] administration, allegations of selfish unilateralism against America and an almost globalized Anti-Americanism in the world. Moreover, with the reliable jinx Băsescu close by, the current administration is packing up as fast as possible in order to leave Afghanistan, as it has become clear they will never be victorious there.

Băsescu’s clumsiness, although he is “one of the most eloquent advocates of a comprehensive strategy for the Black Sea” (according to the statements made by Bruce Jackson, a neoconservative commissioner on Eastern Europe, on March 8, 2005), contributed to the failed attempts of the former Bush administration to open the Black Sea to the oil-related interests and aircraft carriers of the U.S. Moreover, with the loser Băsescu as Washington’s associate in Kiev and Tbilisi, the political and diplomatic initiatives of the U.S. in the former USSR — “the orange revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia, as well as the adherence of these countries to NATO — ran aground also. Furthermore, was it actually necessary to conclude agreements with a leader who is contested by over 90 percent of the population, and with his unpopular government, for the purpose of monitoring international terrorists in Romania and renting some facilities in the Kogălniceanu air base and the port of Constanta? Could the U.S. not have reached its purpose by working together with a normal government, in a normal country, one that has been historically friendly to the United States for 264 years, since Benjamin Franklin met the priest Samuel Damien, who had come to Philadelphia from Transylvania?

Finally, the latest political and military deal that Băsescu and the United States entered into last autumn, namely the placement of the American anti-missile shield in Romania, has also started to be affected by the Romanian leader’s jinxed and seemingly cursed hand. According to the recent reports of the Pentagon and the Congress, the project seems to be already facing major delays (2020!), prohibitive cost overruns and technological problems, and its whole existence is already questioned. Have the government bureaucrats in and around Washington, who have held onto the friendship, immunity and impunity of their “special ally,” actually considered all this waste and strategic failure? “Special” in the sense that everything he touches, at home or abroad, falls apart. Moreover, have they noticed the dramatic shift in the comments posted by readers on articles in the Romanian press dealing with Romanian-American relations from 2004 and up to now? If a few years ago these comments were positive and decent expressions of satisfaction and hope, now most of them are voicing violent criticism against Traian Băsescu, but also against the U.S., as his partner. Why does America’s image need to suffer, to decay, why must it remain stupidly connected to the image of a politician who is free falling in his own country?

There are explanations for this unfortunate impasse of the American side, which provides a compelling image and relates to some of the shortcomings of political management performance after the year 2000. Since that year, confused by the major changes in the world and apparently suffering from an incipient form of sclerosis, the U.S. has been trying hard to preserve the recent past, the time when no one and nothing contested its world leadership, instead of investing in the future. This is the main reason why Băsescu, a living fossil of a distant American foreign policy — eight years is a very long time for the extremely swift current evolutions — is still a “viable” partner for some government officials in Washington. A second reason why he has remained in the good graces of certain political and military bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. is that these individuals do not care much about the outside world, do not know much about it and seem to be old victims of the demagogues on Fox radio and television; in fact, they do not even make the effort to remember America’s past experiences. They seem to have forgotten the times when the U.S. had to end its friendship with leaders who were hated by their own people, after coming across violations of democratic constitutions, regimes directed against the people, civic terrorism, rigged political files and trials against the national leaders of the opposition, civil society and syndicates, as well as censorship, brutal repression and election fraud.

The course of the political events in Romania is currently taking a radical turn. It is a matter of only a few days and weeks before the opposition gains control of the Parliament and secures its right to govern and its victory in the local administration elections. Then they will decide the president’s fate together with the Romanian citizens, in a democratic and constitutional manner. And the above-mentioned political and military bureaucrats in Washington had better stay away…

In Bucharest, a president is unaware of the words Abraham Lincoln uttered 150 years ago: “[T]his nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” No one, absolutely no one in Washington should renounce or waste their birthrights and traditional American values, as they were once voiced by the great president in the Gettysburg Address, out of respect for America’s image, their fellow citizens and their friends, the Romanian people.



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