(By Branden Yeates, CCU Student) Since most of the news I read is written by Americans about Americans, hearing what people from other parts of the world think about current events is a real treat. Just this last Tuesday, I listened to an Oklahoma state senator, a friend of mine, recount his latest visit to Romania. His family have been missionaries to Romania for years, and after witnessing what statism did to the Romanians, he came back to America to fight that menace at home. He still visits Romania regularly, and this last visit was particularly profound because of the Romanians’ perspective on the American presidential race.
As a former satellite of the Soviet Union, Romania remembers all too well what tyranny, violence, and poverty feel like. Even now, almost thirty years after their successful revolution and election of a democratic government, about 60% of the economy remains nationalized, and the red shadow of the Russian bear looms large in Romanian minds once more. The Romanians therefore understand the fragility of liberty, democracy, and stability in a way that Americans simply do not. That may explain why, when the good senator from Oklahoma asked who they hoped would win America’s presidency, a gathering of Romanian diplomats and an elected member of the Romanian parliament answered:
“Anyone, as long as they’re a Republican.”
When Democrats lead America, they explained, the free and the vulnerable both suffer, because the world knows that Democrats won’t protect them from bullies in their minds, and there are some big bruisers in Romania’s neighborhood. But when Republicans have sat in the White House, on the other hand, there have historically been implicit understandings and explicit demonstrations that tyranny, saber-rattling, and belligerence will not intimidate the President, and attacks on our allies will result in a military response.
America is no archangel, and the Republican Party hardly God’s chosen instrument, but for many Romanians a Republican America is a friend to the free and a global force for good: they look to America for a guarantee of the liberty, democracy, and stability of their people.
A quick look at the last eight years of American foreign policy from the Romanian point of view does a lot to explain “Anyone, as long as they’re a Republican”: Russian forces launched onto Syrian soil and into Turkish skies, Ukraine thrown into a civil war with Moscow-backed rebels immediately after ousting their savage pro-Russian president, Crimea annexed, and NATO weakened by American isolation and European incapacitation.
NATO was engineered to contain Russian imperialism, and Romania is of course a member of NATO along with many other post-Soviet states in Eastern Europe. Those states depend on NATO to deter Russia, and NATO in turn depends on the United States. Vladimir Putin is, in my opinion, the most effective and dangerous Russian leader that has sat in Moscow since Nikita Kruschev, a fact that has not been lost on Eastern Europe: Poland for example has radically increased the scope of their paramilitary training program, partially because they believe they are effectively on their own under this American administration. And the Poles are probably right – the Democrats would not send in the cavalry.
These frightful jolts to the systemically peaceful post-Cold War international order have been made possible in large part by a sycophantic Democratic American president opening the doors to strongmen and closing doors to allies. He even had the gall to tell Britain that because they want their government based in London, not Brussels, he’s going to boot them to the back of the line for American trade deals (and that after he sent back the bust of Winston Churchill that the British sent him as an inauguration gift).
The hubris and artifice of his secretaries of state have multiplied these sins of state tenfold. One of them, the Democratic candidate for the presidency, poured gasoline on a swathe of territory from Libya over Egypt to Syria and Iraq and then watched it burn, quite literally in Libya. The other, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in Arabic that the deal with Iran would go through “if Allah wills it,” and then lied to the American people about that deal repeatedly.
Romania has doubtlessly watched these developments with increasing concern, because as America has turned both inward and away from Europe in the highly successful “Pivot to Asia” (successful for China anyway), Europe itself has become ever more unhinged. As Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit movement, fired at EU kingpins: “You, as a political project, are in denial!” Monetary collapse, the threat of default, an outrageous control freak of a regulatory state mandating everything from the size of vacuum motors to the allowable curvature of cucumbers, and a blind multi-culturalism tearing Europe apart from the inside are items that European elites might refuse to acknowledge, but that the clearer eyes of others have observed with trepidation.
The European system is unraveling, and the response of the major European powers like Germany is not to strengthen their militaries or defend their sovereignty (what any sane country would do) but to increase bureaucratic power, demilitarize their armed forces, and swing wide the doors of their borders to destabilizing waves of refugees, against the wishes of their neighbors.
At least previous European administrations operated off of self-interest and self-preservation. Progressive foreign policy has come to be dominated by a kind of suicidal self-flagellation and a seeming satisfaction with national tribulation as a kind of penance paying for past political sins. Romania doesn’t want to play that game, because it at least still seems to have its head on about the reality of the world in which it exists: a world rapidly devolving back into the great game of thrones that used to define Europe and the whole world.
So while liberals and conservatives alike might balk at the words, “Anyone, as long as they’re a Republican,” let us remember the view from Romania. The American presidency is far more than a marketing platform for polite political society: it is the most important foreign policy post in the world. Let all Americans be sober on November the 8th, and remember that we have a responsibility to vote not merely our conscience, nor even just for our country, but for the liberty, democracy, and stability of the entire world. The Romanians are in the galleries with watching us – let’s not let them down.