November 13, 2002
THE WEST MOVES EAST:
A New (Willing) Ally in Europe
(ROBERT D. KAPLAN, 11/10/02, NY Times)
The pro-American stance of Romania and countries like it, however opportunistic, could change relations between the United States and Europe, while also altering Europe itself. Romania, with 22.5 million people, is the largest and most populous of the seven countries expected to be invited to join NATO at the summit next week in Prague. It is also the second largest, after Poland, of the 10 countries likely to join the European Union by the end of the decade.
So, while Western Europeans fought for a compromise United Nations resolution on Iraq and sniff with disdain at Mr. Bush's midterm election mandate, members of the Romanian elite heartily approve of the White House's policies. "Unofficially, there is a feeling of quiet jubilation" about the American elections, said Sergiu Celac, a former Romanian foreign minister. "We're happy because Bush is happy."
Opinion polls in Romania show approval ratings of 80 percent and higher for the United States. Romania sent its own troops to Afghanistan and became the first country to support the American demand that American soldiers be exempted from prosecution by the International Criminal Court. Along with Bulgaria, another prospective member of NATO and the European Union, Romania recently granted the United States access to its military bases and flyover rights should there be a war with Iraq.
Romania and Poland will bring a "pro-American critical mass" to NATO, said Mircea Geoana, Romania's foreign minister in an interview. Indeed, whenever Mr. Geoana's French diplomatic counterparts worry about Romania's enthusiasm for the United States, he said he tells them that "after Romania enjoys several decades of prosperity like France, then we will have the luxury of taking the U.S. for granted."
Hard not to notice that--with the exception of Britain, which is unique--the fact of a country's having been behind the Iron Curtain seems the best predictor of its support for America now.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2002 7:37 PM
No secret why that is: "Tear down this wall!" The Western Europeans (France, mainly) were happy to lend intellectual and rhetorical support to the Communists because they never had to experience the misery of living under them. It was Americans, for the most part, who recognized the depth of that misery.
A female work colleague and friend originally from Albania is one of the most eloquent defenders of Reagan's foreign policy that one will ever meet. I find that telling.
And for all that Europe and our own Left insist that Nelson Mandela is the moral exemplar of modernity, I'll take the teachings of that Pole, John Paul, and the Czech, Vaclav Havel, any day.
I remember talking to a professor of mine when I was in grad school. He and several others had visited Poland sometimes after the collapse of the USSR (1993?).
The professor expressed profound amazement at the extent to which the Polish professors they had talked to had consistently credited Ronald Reagan with ending the Cold War.
It was w/ no little pride that he said that he and his colleagues had had to "educate" those Polish professors as to the vital role of Mikhail Gorbachev, and how little Reagan had actually had to do with it.
I think that was about the time that I concluded that academics are not only cloistered, but sometimes downright dangerous....
Actually Spain from day one has been a very staunch supporter of the US...almost more than even the UK...
Aznar once again said the military bases in Spain will be used (as they were in Gulf War I)
Does the country generally support the war, or just the government? It seems like Spain can turn out a million anti-something protestors at the drop of a hat.
Italy is similar. Both nations have BIG communist and "post-communist" parties, as well as what the Italians call "associazioni culturali" (state-funded "clubs," which in Italy's case have their roots in Mussolini's "dopolavoro" programs), and, of course, huge unions. These guys are professional, if not necessarily full-time, protesters--turning out a few hundred thousand marchers really is no big deal for them (they did it during Kosovo too; recall the recent Florence protest was "Europe-wide" not Italian only). But I think you'll find the populace in general quite pro-American. Mary McGrory, writing about her experiences in tourist traps in Florence (Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio=Times Square and the Statue of Liberty as far as an adventurous trip goes) may disagree with me, of course.
Thanks, I see. I think I'll take your word over Ms McGrory's.
Whoop-te-do. Sure is a comfort to have
Romania on our side when the ballon goes up. Does their army still
have that contract with Max Factor to make
the officers pretty?
Well, i'd be a bit careful with any figures about spain and protests ...people here love to protest, and it almost becomes a holiday atmosphere! here in madrid, there are a few protests a week, and sometimes they even coincide on the same day!
there is no doubt the govt is more pro-US with respect to Iraq than the people, but that said, again Spain is very, very pro US. Yes there is a history of the Left here, but this govt, and even the Socialist PSOE govt, are/were pro US. There are still two official US bases used here, as well.
I guess I shouldn't allow my view of Spain to be shaped wholly by the film "Barcelona", eh?