What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun
or fester like a sore, and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
or crust and sugar over, like a syrupy sweet?
Five days ago, there was a surge of joy in Romania after the website EurActive reported that the European Union was going to pass legislation requiring the United States, Australia and Canada to provide uniform treatment for citizens of all EU states on the subject of visas.
Since those three countries (USA, Canada and Australia) all have the right to visa-free travel in the European Union, the EU was going to demand reciprocity, meaning that all citizens of EU countries could equally travel visa-free to those three countries. If the three countries failed to do so, the EU was then going to require their diplomats to go through the rigamarole of obtaining a visa to travel here.
Currently, the citizens of five EU countries, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and (newest member) Croatia are still required to go to the American embassy in their country, pay an exorbitant fee (currently $160) and then be interrogated by perverts who publicly boast about masturbating to your Facebook photos if they want to travel to the United States.
The proposed EU changes would’ve rectified all that, making it possible for the first time for Romanians to be treated as equals in America. Sadly, just 24 hours later, the EU clarified its position and stated that there was no plan to demand visa reciprocity so it looks nothing will change in the near future.
Failure to obtain a visa waiver for travel to the United States has been a big issue here in Romania (and Poland) for a long time. Victor Ponta was in Washington in October 2013 and pressed the American government to grant Romanians the visa waiver. Mircea Geoana, who seemingly is always in Washington, has repeatedly done the same. The Americans have responded each and every time by laughing and telling Romanian officials that they’ve “made a good case” for the visa waiver and yet nothing has changed.
Before the EU clarified its position, Geoana got another 15 seconds of fame in the Romania media as he was invited onto all of the news channels to talk about the happy news. I know that Geoana would sure like to be the one to broker this because he’s under the illusion that one day he’ll be the Secretary General of NATO, and that Romania’s good friend Victoria Nuland has more or less promised her support to him in getting the position. I’m also quite sure that Geoana, after years of being a reliable embassy snitch, truly believes that he will be rewarded by his masters for his unstinting loyalty.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the American government does business. There’s a very good reason why the United States has refused to grant visa waivers to Romania and Poland and it has nothing to do with security or risk assessment or immigration requirements or anything sensible like that. The real answer is strategic. Romania and Poland are so afraid and hateful of Russia that they’ll do literally anything that the American government asks of them and so there’s no strategic motive to give them anything. If your stupid dog will do a trick without getting a reward, why bother it giving one?
A few weeks ago the Washington Post reported that the American government paid Poland 15 million dollars so it could use an old Polish army base to torture people. We know that the CIA used a Romanian government building in Bucharest to torture people. Did Romania get paid as well? So far there’s not a single report of such a payment, which means that it looks like the American government fucked over Romania for free.
When (then) American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement in 2011 with the Romanian government to build a completely useless missile base in Deveselu, a deliberate provocation to Russia, do you know what that document actually said? I do. You can read it here for yourself (PDF).
It says that the Deveselu missile is part of Romania’s commitment to be a useful NATO ally, a decision that’s already cost the completely broke (and heavily indebted) Romanian government millions of dollars in buying equipment it doesn’t need. But we know that both President Basescu and Mircea Geoana have been promising the American embassy for years (since at least 2007!) that Romania will buy all its expensive military equipment from the United States.
The second part of the Deveselu agreement, however, is the most pitiful:
In case your Romanian is rusty, it says that the Deveselu missile base will increase Romania’s security and thusly will have the indirect effect of stimulating American and foreign investment in Romania. I think we all know that isn’t going to happen any time soon.
But even though Romanians have no free access to travel to the United States, you’ll be happy to know that this weekend the Army Times reported that American troops are now going to be transporting their soldiers and equipment to kill innocent people in Afghanistan via the airbase at Mihail Kogalniceanu just outside of Constanta. You might remember from my article Mircea Geoana for President that this airbase is the only place in the entire country that I’ve ever been where it is forbidden to take photographs from a public street.
Mind you, I’ve filmed inside of City Hall, in the entrance to courthouses, inside other government buildings and been yelled at and confronted numerous times by deeply suspicious employees but I’ve never once been threatened with arrest because what I was doing was completely legal. I’ve also filmed outside of several Romanian military buildings, gotten drunk on a Romanian army base and gotten hands on to closely inspect Romanian Army missile launchers. All of that was permissible but taking a photograph of a far distant airbase (at least a kilometer from the public roadway we were on) is illegal? Only because it involves the Americans, of course.
Americans can prevent Romanians from taking photographs in public spaces in their own country. Americans can murder Romanians and get away with it but not the other way around. Americans can torture people in Romanian government buildings and force Romania to go into debt when the economy was doing just fine. American vulture capitalists can destroy Romanian state-owned enterprises for massive profits. The American Ambassador can humiliate his Romanian servants and then retire from his post to make big profits working for a Romanian company currently under investigation for wide-scale fraud. American pedophiles with strong connections to the embassy can freely wander around Romania and interact with children.
And of course, Americans can travel to Romania visa-free while at the same time the American government is milking Romanians for $160 a pop (and if your visa application is rejected, you definitely don’t get your money back!) for the “privilege” of getting sexually molested at the airport when they finally make it to the United States.
Hmm, now who’s hungry for some apple pie?
16 thoughts on “Another Dream Deferred”
“There’s a very good reason why the United States has refused to grant visa waivers to Romania and Poland and it has nothing to do with security or risk assessment or immigration requirements or anything sensible like that. The real answer is strategic. Romania and Poland are so afraid and hateful of Russia that they’ll do literally anything that the American government asks of them and so there’s no strategic motive to give them anything.”
I think the reason Romania hasn’t been granted entry into the Visa Waiver Program is because the Republicans in Congress won’t pass immigration reform of any kind–it does not benefit them politically to do so (and in fact it will very likely get them in trouble with their constituents). It has nothing to do with Romania, and everything to do with the “problem” of undocumented immigrants who are now in the country, mostly from Latin America. Please note I’ve put the word problem in quotes because I believe the only real problem is that these people have not already been granted permanent residency or citizenship.
It’s also worth noting that even if Romania was included in the Visa Waiver Program, it would not guarantee entry into the US for anyone who wants it. The only authority that can grant entry to non-US citizens into the US is Homeland Security at ports of Entry (International airports, usually) and they can turn anyone away for any reason, Visa or no.
For the record, I think we should immediately grant Visa-Free travel to all members of the EU, and I’ve written my Congressman about it.
On the whole however, I agree … the relationship between Romania and the US is presently highly asymmetrical in terms of “who gets the benefits”. The present state of affairs is that America treats Romania like a colony. America needs to extradite Christopher Van Goethem for the manslaughter of Teo Peter for a start, before it can make any moral judgements on the state of the Romanian justice system of who knows what else, in Romania or for that matter anywhere else in the world. America isn’t the beacon of virtue people used to think it was, if indeed, it ever was.
Also, whatever your view of the validity of staying in Afghanistan after the initial goal was accomplished (regime change), you canniot insinuate that the purpose of the US is to kill innocents there. Those targets are no angels, I can guarantee it.
Well, what about when America does kill innocents, as it has killed so many, bombing wedding parties, or when troops go mad and kill civilians? Is that ok because they are “collateral damage in a war for the greater good” ? It’s not a manichean world any more, black or white, US or USSR, good guy or bad guy. In reality, they’re all bad guys – all the imperialist powers. If a smaller country tries to use one imperialist power against another for its own purposes, that country may or may not end up being fucked over.
I agree about romania being an american lackey, but better that than bending over for the russians or even the western europeans. If i were faced with such a tough choice, I’d also choose the US as the big brother to protect my tiny self. It might not be ideal but it’s a whole lot better than the alternatives. Romanians have always had to choose which empire to serve in return for protection, and have never had the luxury to think like a fully independent nation.
> “Romanians have always had to choose which empire to serve in return for protection”
I think that’s an unfair generalisation. Like other peoples in the central ane eastern European region, it’s true that Romanians have for the most part “consumed” more history than they have “propagated” as somebody once said (a Pole I think), being at the cross roads of empires and so forth, which does mean that we’ve ended up being fucked over many many times. At the same time however, this does not mean we’ve always ended up playing any of these empire’s games, or certainly not to the point where we haven’t ended up being the player who in turn fucks the empire back when the time comes. This is true in the case of Ceausescu’s defiance of the USSR in 1968 (as attested to by archives in the UK, in terms of how this was the first decisive breakdown of soviet power in eastern Europe), the relationship with nazi Germany in 1944, and indeed the earlier relationship with nazi Germany from 1940 onwards, which was not an alliance amongst nations genuinely sympathetic to one another, but one which was an alliance of interests – each using the other for it’s own purposes. Who’s to say, realistically, who got the better end of the deal? Whatever the case, one thing you don’t get in this game is sympathy and admiration. To get that, you need to properly stand up to empires, to the point where your people are massacred on a large scale, so whatever anyone does, they still end up being fucked over. That’s simply the human condition, so Romania is no special case.
Oh, but I have a feeling you’re wrong Sam…No one’s fucking Base, not any American anyway! It may appear that Romania’s giving more, but I beg you the differ. You and I both know no one is more “smecher” than Romanians…As a matter of fact I bet you Basescu got 10 times more from America than the other way around. US visa has nothing more than symbolic value, It’s not practical for would be Romanians to go to the states and work illegally. And whomever wants to visit can afford the $160.
In conclusion, don’t worry about Romania being “fucked”…For eons other nations have tried and failed.
PS: Funny detail: The auto spell/thesaurus feature on this website does not “know” the words “smecher” or “Basescu”!
Daca Basescu a obtinut ceva, probabil ca a fost pentru el personal dar nu pentru tara, Asa ca nu stiu cine este smecherul aici; oricum nu romanii.
If u think Romanians are smarter or more “smecheri” than Americans, you are really really ignorant about life.
Im guesseing you dont much like America,then.