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Romanian-Ukrainian Timebomb AIU Forum, Kiev, June 17, 2010 

Time to Leave Bosnia Well Alone Capitol Hill Club, Washington D.C., May 27, 2009

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Can the West be Saved?

Keynote speech at Mission Europa conference, Netzwerk Karl Martell, Vienna, May 11, 2008

I am not going to waste your time tonight with yet another treatise on why Islam is not the Religion of Peace, Tolerance, Compassion, etc, etc. We are beyond that. Had America agonized, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, whether Shinto was actually OK but only Bushido was bad, the Greater Asian Co-prosperity Sphere would be going strong to this day. Among reasonable people, unblinkered by the dicta of political correctitude, the real score on Muhammad and his followers is well known. It has been known for centuries. That score, however, no matter how calmly stated and comprehensively supported, invariably elicits the howls of “Islamophobia” from the neoliberal elite class.

An Eminently Postmodern Little Phobia

In the way of an introduction, let us therefore look at the formal, legally tested definition of that word, the latest addition to the arsenal of postmodern “phobias.” It was provided by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), predecessor of the EU Agency for Fundamental rights, here in Vienna. (“Orwellian” is a worn-out adjective, but it simply has to be used in connection with this particular institution.) The EUMC diligently tracked the instances of “Islamophobia” all over the Old Continent, which it defined by eight red flags:

  1. Islam is seen as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change.
  2. Islam is seen as separate and “Other.”
  3. Islam is seen as inferior to the West, barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist.
  4. Islam is seen as violent, aggressive, linked to terrorism, engaged in a clash of civilizations.
  5. Islam is seen as a political ideology.
  6. Criticisms made of the West by Islam are rejected out of hand.
  7. Discriminatory practices and Muslims’ exclusion from mainstream society are advocated.
  8. Anti-Muslim hostility is seen as natural or normal.

This definition is obviously intended to preclude any possibility of meaningful discussion of Islam. As it happens,

  1. That Islam is static and unresponsive to change is evident from the absence of an internal, orthodox critique of jihad, sharia, jizya, etc. As Clement Huart pointed out back in 1907, “Until the newer conceptions, as to what the Koran teaches as to the duty of the believer towards non-believers, have spread further and have more generally leavened the mass of Moslem belief and opinion, it is the older and orthodox standpoint on this question which must be regarded by non-Moslems as representing Mohammedan teaching and as guiding Mohammedan action.” A century later his diagnosis still stands: it is not the jihadists who are “distorting” Islam; the would-be reformers are.
  2. That Islam is separate from our Western, Christian, European culture and civilization, and “other” than our culture and civilization, is a fact that will not change even if Europe eventually succumbs to the ongoing jihadist demographic onslaught.
  3. Whether Islam is “inferior to the West” is a matter of opinion, of course. That Islam cannot create a prosperous, harmonious, stable, creative, and attractive human society is not. Whether Islam is “barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist” is at least debatable; but that many of its tangible fruits are so, is all too painfully visible.
  4. Islam is seen by so many as “violent, aggressive, supportive of terrorism” not because of some irrational “phobia” in the feverish mind of the beholder, but because (a) of the clear mandate of its scripture; (b) of the record of its 14 centuries of historical practice; and above all (c) of the timeless example of its founder.
  5. “Islam is seen as a political ideology,” and it should be seen as one, because its key trait is a political program to improve man and create a new society; to impose complete control over that society; and to train cadres ready and eager to spill blood. This makes Islam closer to Bolshevism and to National Socialism than to any other religion. It breeds a gnostic paradigm within which the standard response to the challenge presented by “the Other,” i.e. non-Muslim societies and cultures, is implacable hostility and violence, or violent intent.
  6. Criticisms made of the West by Islam should not be rejected out of hand; they should be understood. Its chief “criticism” of the West-and of every other non-Islamic culture or tradition-is that it is infidel, and therefore undeserving of existence.
  7. A priori hostility towards Islam should not be “used to justify discriminatory practices towards Muslims.” Quite the contrary, an education campaign about the teaching and practice of Islam should result in legislative action that would exclude Islam from the societies it is targeting – not because it is an intolerant “religion,” but because it is an inherently seditious totalitarian ideology incompatible with the values of the West.
  8. And finally, while anti-Muslim hostility is not a priori “natural or normal,” the desire of non-Muslims to defend their lands, families, cultures and faith against Islamic aggression is “natural and normal”; but the elite class is actively trying to neutralize it.

As the demand for Sharia-based communal self-rule is made with increasing frequency in the banlieus of Paris and the grim West Midlands council estates, Europe’s elite class is ready to throw in the towel. Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner-a Christian Democrat!-sees the demand as perfectly legitimate and argues that sharia could be introduced “by democratic means.” Muslims have a right to follow the commands of their religion, even if that included some “dissenting rules of behavior”: “Could you block this legally? It would also be a scandal to say ‘this isn’t allowed’! The majority counts. That is the essence of democracy…”

Guilt-Ridden Fellow-Travellers

Such inanities are light years away from Winston Churchill’s warning, over a century ago, that “no stronger retrograde force exists in the world” than Islam:

Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science-the science against which it had vainly struggled-the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.

Even Churchill’s prescience could not envisage the possibility that the invader would find his fellow-travellers at No. 10, Downing Street, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, and in dozens of chancelleries and palaces across the Old Continent. Their joint efforts are helping change the face of Europe. The cumulative effect is not in doubt: by 2050, Muslims will account for over one-third of “Old Europe’s” young residents. Millions of them already live in a parallel universe that has very little to do with the host country, toward which they have a disdainful and hostile attitude.

The elite class responds to such hostility with calls for ever-greater inclusiveness. Giuseppe Pisanu, Berlusconi’s former minister of the interior, responsible for controlling the country’s borders, thus declared five years ago that the high fatality rate of North African illegals on the high seas en route to Sicily was “a dreadful tragedy that weighs on the conscience of Europe.” His view was paradigmatic of the utopian liberal mind-set. If “Europe” should feel shame and guilt that people who have no right to come to its shores are risking their lives while trying to do so illegally, then only the establishment of a free passenger-ferry service between Tripoli and Palermo-with no passport or customs formalities required upon arrival, and a free shuttle to Rome or Milan-would offer some relief to that burdened conscience. And Sr Pisanu is supposedly a man of the “Right”!

The tangible results of the leaders’ moral decrepitude are devastating. A century ago, Sr. Pisanu and his class shared social commonalities that could be observed in Monte Carlo, Carlsbad, Biaritz or Paris, depending on the season. Englishmen, Russians, and Austrians shared the same outlook and sense of propriety, they all spoke French, but they nevertheless remained rooted in their national traditions, the permanent vessels in which Weltanschauung could be translated into Kultur. Today’s “United Europe,” by contrast, does not create social and civilizational commonalities except on the basis of wholesale denial of old mores, disdain for inherited values, and an overt rejection of “traditional” culture. It creates the dreary sameness of “antidiscriminationism” and “tolerance.”

Such weakness breeds contempt and haughty arrogance on the other side. Take Tariq Ramadan, who calmly insists that Muslims in the West should conduct themselves as though they were already living in a Muslim-majority society and were exempt on that account from having to make concessions to the faith of the host-society. Muslims in Europe should feel entitled to live on their own terms, Ramadan says, while, “under the terms of Western liberal tolerance,” society as a whole should be “obliged to respect that choice.”

If such “respect” continues to be extended by the elite class, by the end of this century there will be no “Europeans” as members of ethnic groups that share the same language, culture, history, and ancestors, and inhabit lands associated with their names. The shrinking native populations will be indoctrinated into believing-or else simply forced into accepting-that the demographic shift in favor of unassimilable and hostile aliens is actually a blessing that enriches their culturally deprived and morally unsustainable societies. The “liberal tolerance” and the accompanying “societal obligation” that Tariq Ramadan invokes thus become the tools of Western suicide. “No other race subscribes to these moral principles,” Jean Raspail wrote a generation ago, “because they are weapons of self-annihilation.” The weapons need to be discarded, and the upholders of those deadly “principles” removed from all positions of power and influence, if Europe is to survive.

The Pathology Of The Elite Class

It is in the inability and unwillingness of the neoliberal elite class to confront the grave threat to our civilization that Western Europe and North America most tellingly certify that they share the same cultural chromosomes. In 1938 Hilaire Belloc wondered, “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Muhammadan world which will shake the dominion of Europeans-still nominally Christian-and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization?”

Seven decades later, the same traits of decrepitude are present in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, Canada, and the United States, including both the primary cause, which is the loss of religious faith, and several secondary ones. Topping the list is elite hostility to all forms of solidarity of the majority population based on shared historical memories, ancestors, and common culture; the consequences are predictable:

  • the loss of a sense of place and history among Europeans and North Americans;
  • rapid demographic decline, especially in Europe, unparalleled in history;
  • rampant Third World (and in Europe, overwhelmingly Muslim) immigration;
  • collapse of private and public manners, morals, and traditional commonalities;
  • imposition of “diversity,” “multiculturalism,” “sensitivity”; and
  • demonization and criminalization of any opposition to any of the above.

The end-result is the Westerners’ loss of the sense of propriety over their lands. Before 1914, both the West and the Muslim world could define themselves against each other in a cultural sense. The neoliberal elite insists on casting aside any idea of a specifically “Western” geographic and cultural space that should be protected from those who do not belong to it and have no rightful claim to it. The elite insists that our countries belong to the whole world.

We face an elite consensus that de facto open immigration, multiculturalism, and the existence of a large Muslim diaspora within the Western world are to be treated as a fixed and immutable fact that must not be scrutinized. That consensus, I contend, is ideological in nature, flawed in logic, dogmatic in application, and disastrous in its results. It needs to be tested against evidence, and not against the alleged norms of acceptable public discourse imposed by those who do not know Islam, or else do not want us to know the truth about it.

In addition, a depraved mass culture and multiculturalist indoctrination in state schools and the mainstream media have already largely neutralized the sense of historical and cultural continuity among young West Europeans and North Americans. By contrast, the blend of soft porn and consumerism that targets every denizen of the Western world has not had the same effect on the Muslim diaspora in the West. The roll-call of Western-born and educated young Muslims supportive of terrorism confirms that failure.

The loss of a sense of place and history experienced by millions of Westerners follows the emergence of two sides of the same coin: a neoliberal post-national hyper-state in Europe and the neoconservative “benevolent global hegemony” in the U.S. epitomized by the demand for an ever-growing NATO. These two mindsets, seemingly at odds, are but two aspects of the same emerging globalized universe, two sides of the same coin. The neoliberals advocate multilateralism in the form of an emerging “international community” framed by the United Nations and adjudicated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), with the EU acting as an interim medium for transferring sovereign prerogatives to a supra-national body; the neocons prefer to be the only cop in town. Both share the same distaste for traditional, naturally evolving societies and cultures.

The revolutionary character of the multiculturalist project is revealed in the endless mantra of Race, Gender and Sexuality, the formula now elevated to the status of the post-modern Philosopher’s Stone, the force that moves the linear historical process forward, towards the grand Gleichschaltung of nations, races, and cultures that will mark the end of history. Race, Gender and Sexuality have replaced the Proletariat as both the oppressed underclass (hence the cult of the non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual victimhood), and as the historically preordained agent of revolutionary change.

Classical Marxist political economy found the dynamics of revolution in the inevitable conflict between the owners of the means of production and the proletariat that has nothing to sell but its labor and nothing to lose but its chains. Latter-day Marxist revolutionaries go beyond dialectical materialism, however, by introducing a wholly metaphysical concept of victimhood and an array of associated special-rights claims that have worked such wonders for Islam all over the Western world. Majority populations of “old” Europe and America, in this insane but all-pervasive paradigm, are guilty of “oppression” by their very existence, and therefore must not protest the migratory deluge, let alone try to oppose it: that is “racism.”.

The fruits are with us already. Gibbon could have had today’s Antwerp or Malmo in mind, or Marseilles, or Huddersfield, when he wrote of Rome in decline, its masses morphing “into a vile and wretched populace.” On present form, within a century the native Western majorities will melt away: “child-free” is a legitimate yuppie lifestyle term, on par with “fat-free” and “drug-free.” But whereas the threat of extinction of an exotic tribal group in Borneo or Amazonia - let alone a species of spotted owl or sperm whale - would cause alarm and prompt activism among neoliberal elites, it is deemed inherently racist to mention the fact that Europeans and their trans-Atlantic cousins are, literally, endangered species.

There will be no grand synthesis, no civilizational cross-fertilization, between the West and Islam. Even the ultra-tolerant Dutch are beginning to see the light, pace Geert Wilders, but they are hamstrung by guilt-ridden self-haters and appeasers, whose hold on the political power, the media, and the academe is undemocratic, unnatural, and obscene. If Europe is to survive they need to be unmasked for what they are: traitors to their nations and their culture. They must be replaced by people ready and willing to subject the issues of immigration and identity to the test of democracy, unhindered by administrative or judicial fiat.

If the coming war against jihad is to be won, the first task is to start talking frankly about the identity and character of the enemy and the nature of the threat. The obligation to do so is dictated by morality no less than by the need for self-preservation. “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles,” says Sun Tzu. Well, we know the enemy. We know his core beliefs, his role models, his track-record, his mindset, his modus operandi, and his intentions. We also know his weaknesses, which are many, above all his inability to develop a prosperous economy or a functional, harmonious society.

The main problem is with ourselves; or, to be precise, with those among us who have the power to make policy and shape opinions, and who will reject and condemn our diagnosis. Having absorbed postmodernist relativism, certain only of uncertainty, devoid of any faith except the faith in their own infallibility, members of the Western neoliberal elite class treat the jihadist mindset as a problem that can and should be treated by treating causes external to Islam itself. The result is a plethora of proposed “cures” that are as likely to succeed in making us safe from terrorism as snake oil is likely to cure leukemia.

Abroad, we are told, we need to address political and economic grievances of the Muslim impoverished masses, we need to spread democracy and free markets in the Muslim world, we need to invest more in public diplomacy. At home we need more tolerance, greater inclusiveness, less profiling, and a more determined outreach to the minorities that feel marginalized. The predictable failure of such cures leads to ever more pathological self-scrutiny and to ever more morbid self-doubt. This vicious circle must be broken.

Breaking The Deadlock

The deadlock on the Somme in 1916, or at Verdun a year later, could not be broken with the ideas and modus operandi of Messrs. Haig, Foch, Cadrona or Hindenburg. It could have been unlocked, however, had Lidell-Hart, de Gaulle, or Guderian held the old guard’s ranks and positions. Winning a war demands “knowing the enemy and knowing oneself,” of course, but it also demands “thinking outside the box.” This cliché is apt: the magnitude of the threat demands radical responses that fall outside the cognitive parameters of the elite class.

Let us therefore start our specific policy recommendations with the complex and emotionally charged issue of “human rights” versus national security.

DEFINING ISLAMIC ACTIVISM – Instead of seeking a ban on all Muslim immigration right away, which is not a realistic goal at this moment, Western anti-jihadist activists should campaign for changes in immigration legislation of their home countries to include clauses that would exclude Islamic activists before they come, and have them deported if they are already infiltrated into the country.

This demand needs to be made acceptable and attractive to a wide cross-section of the electorate regardless of political and ideological preferences. Therefore it should be focused on the Islamic activists’ threat to the neoliberal values themselves:

  • Discrimination against other religions (with special emphasis on the rising European phenomenon of Islamic anti-Semitism), outlooks (inc. atheism) and lifestyles;
  • Discrimination and violence against women (esp. wives and “disobedient” daughters);
  • Discrimination and violence against homosexuals;
  • Threats of violence in any form and for whatever alleged “offense” or “insult” (e.g. drawing cartoons, making documentaries, writing books);
  • Apology or justification for all of the above.

It is essential to focus on the despicable acts themselves, and then drawing the direct line to the commands of Islam’s scripture and its founder, rather than doing it in reverse, as some well-meaning but politically less astute anti-jihadist activists do.

This definition of Islamic activism would be a major step in the direction of denying actual or potential jihadists a foothold in Europe and the rest of the West. In the U.S. the broad model is provided by the old 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA, the McCarran-Walter Act), mandating the exclusion or deportation of any alien who engaged or had purpose to engage in activities prejudicial to the public interest or subversive to national security. “Ideological” grounds for deportation were on the US statute books until 1990, when they were repealed by Congress. After the Russian revolution foreign communists were singled out for deportation. One night alone in January of 1920, more than 2,500 “alien radicals” were seized in thirty-three cities across the country and deported to their countries of origin.

DENYING CITIZENSHIP TO ISLAMIC ACTIVISTS – I submit to you that all Western countries need laws that will treat any naturalized citizen’s or legally resident alien’s known adherence to an Islamist world outlook as excludable - on political, rather than “religious” grounds. It is politically feasible to articulate the demand that citizenship of a democratic Western country should be denied to all Islamic activists.

In the United States a foreigner who becomes naturalized has to declare, on oath, “that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” A declaration of this kind, of not a solemn oath of allegiance, is expected from naturalized citizens in most European countries.

For a Muslim to declare all of the above in good faith, and especially that he accepts an “infidel,” i.e. non-Muslim document or law as the source of his highest loyalty, is an act of apostasy par excellence, punishable by death under the Islamic law. The sharia, to a Muslim, is not an addition to the “secular” legal code with which it coexists; it is the only true code, the only basis of obligation. To be legitimate, all political power therefore must rest exclusively with those who enjoy Allah’s authority on the basis of his revealed will – and for as long as they remain infidel, both Europe and America are illegitimate. So how can a self-avowedly devout Muslim take the oath, and expect the rest of us to believe that it was done in good faith? Because he is practicing taqiyya, the art of elaborate lying that was inaugurated by Muhammad to help destabilize and undermine non-Muslim communities almost ripe for a touch of Jihad. (Or else because he is not devout enough and confused, but in that case there is the ever-present danger that at some point he will rediscover his roots.)

AUXILLIARY MEASURES – Those who preach or promote jihad and advocate the introduction of sharia can and should be treated in exactly the same manner that adherents of other totalitarian ideologies had been treated in the free world during the Cold War. It will be a long and hard struggle to open the eyes of legislators and legal regulators that Islam itself is a radical, revolutionary ideology, inherently seditious and inimical to Western values and institutions, but it can be done. Other necessary measures would then follow, but to that end anti-jihadists should start articulating and advocating them now:

  1. Seek zero porosity of the borders. Preventing illegal immigration is a desirable objective per se; in the context of stopping terrorists it is mandatory. No anti-jihadist strategy is possible without complete physical control of borders. This is an issue on which a majority of the electorate of each and every Western country will agree - much to the chagrin of the liberal elites. Anti-jihadists should insist that all illegal immigration is a major security threat and that it can and should be subject to the letter of the law, and not to the suicidal dictates of the “human rights” lobby.
  2. Demand mandatory cooperation of state agencies at all levels in identifying, registering and apprehending illegal immigrants and in assisting in their deportation - starting with those from nations and groups at risk for terrorism. It is a curious phenomenon in most Western countries that at various levels of state administration (e.g. welfare officers and social workers) and law enforcement (e.g. police forces in major cities) we encounter varying levels of tolerance, and even encouragement, of illegal immigrants’ continued presence in the community. Again, this demand for simple compliance with the law by tax-funded public officers would be politically popular.
  3. Discard the irrational ban on “profiling.” Not all Muslims are terrorists, of course, but all transnational terrorist networks that threaten Western countries’ national security and way of life are composed of Muslims. It is time to accept that “profiling” based on a person’s appearance, origin, and apparent or suspected beliefs is an essential tool of trade of law enforcement and war on terrorism. Just ask the Israelis!
  4. Subject the work of Islamic centers to legal limitations and security supervision. All over the Western world, Islamic centers have provided platforms for exhortations to the faithful to support causes and to engage in acts that are morally reprehensible, legally punishable, and detrimental to the host country’s national security. They have provided shelter to the outlaws, and offered recruitment to the leaders.
  5. Treat affiliation with Islamic activism as grounds for denial or revoking of any level of security clearance. Such affiliation is incompatible with the requirements of personal commitment, patriotic loyalty and unquestionable reliability that are essential in the military, law enforcement, intelligence services, and other related branches of government (e.g. immigration control, airport security). Presence of practicing Muslims in any of these institutions would present an inherent risk to its integrity and would undermine morale.

Acceptance of these proposals would represent a new start in devising long-term defense. The proposed measures recognize that we are in a war of ideas and religion, whether we want that or not and however much we hate the fact. They reflect the seriousness of the struggle. This war is being fought, on the Islamic side, with the deep condition that the West is on its last legs. The success of its demographic onslaught on Europe enhances the image of “a candy store with the busted lock,” and that view is reinforced by the evidence from history that a civilization that loses the urge for self-perpetuation is indeed in peril.

Can The Candy Store With A Busted Lock Be Saved?

The above proposals are not only pragmatic, they are morally just. They will elicit the accusation of “discrimination” from the self-hating segments of the elite class, even though no such label is applicable. Targeting people for screening, supervision and exclusion on the basis of their genes would be discriminatory indeed, but doing so because of their beliefs, ideas, actions, and intentions is justified and necessary. Orthodox Islamic beliefs, ideas and intentions as such pose a threat to the European civilization, culture, and way of life.

The elite class rejects this diagnosis, of course, but among reasonable, well-informed citizens the debate must be conducted on terms liberated from the shackles of the elite class. Geert Wilders certainly shows the way. We should act accordingly, and never, ever be afraid of causing controversy. That means being subjected to the threat of legal proceedings by the neoliberal state - or to the threat of death, by those whom the neoliberal state continues to protect to the detriment of its own citizens.

Western leaders did not agonize over communism’s “true” nature during the Berlin air lift in 1949, or in Korea in 1950, but acted effectively to contain it by whatever means necessary. Yes, back then we had a legion of Moscow’s apologists, character witnesses, moles and fellow-travelers, assuring us that the Comrades want nothing but social justice at home and peaceful coexistence abroad. They held tenured chairs at prestigious universities and dominated all smart salons, from London and Paris to New York. They explained away and justified the inconsistencies and horrifyingly violent implications of the source texts of Marx and Lenin. They explained away and justified the appalling fruits: the bloodbath of the Revolution, the genocidal great famine, the show trials and purges, the killing of millions of innocents in the Gulag, the pact with Hitler, the works.

Today their spiritual heirs in politics, the academy and the media establishment act as Islam’s apologists, character witnesses and fellow travelers. They flatly deny or else explain away, with identical scholastic sophistry and moral depravity, the dark and violent implications of the source texts, the Kuran and the Hadith, the deeply unnerving career of Muhammad, and centuries of conquests, wars, slaughters, subjugation, decline without fall, spiritual and material misery, and murderous fanaticism.

Nil Desperandum!

Some eighty years ago Julien Benda published his tirade against the intellectual corruption of his times, The treason of the intellectuals. For generations prior to the 20th century, Benda wrote, members of the Western intellectual elite ensured that “humanity did evil, but honored good.” The “Treason” of the title occurred when they gave up promoting lasting civilizational values in favor of short-term political preferences. Benda wrote at a time when fascism, nazism and bolshevism dominated Europe’s scene. Today the “treason” of the elite class takes a different form. It upholds the allegedly universal values of multiculturalism, inclusiveness and antidiscriminationism to the detriment of the particular value of our civilization and all its fruits. The propensity of the elite class to the betrayal of our culture remains the same, however.

The fact that normal people don’t realize the magnitude of the problem works to the advantage of the people like Solana, Soros, Blair, Prodi, or Hillary Clinton. Their ideas, which but two generations ago would have been deemed eccentric or insane, now rule the Euro-American mainstream. Only a society inured to the concept of open borders can be unblinkingly told that Islam is good and tolerant, that “we” (the West) have been nasty and unkind to it over the centuries - remember the Crusades! - and that “terrorism” needs to be understood, and cured, by social therapy that is independent of Islam’s teaching and practice.

At the root of the domestic malaise is the notion that countries do not belong to the people who have inhabited them for generations, but to whoever happens to be within their boundaries at any given moment in time - regardless of his culture, attitude, or intentions. The resulting random melange of mutually disconnected multitudes is supposed to be a blessing that enriches an otherwise arid and monotonous society.

A further pernicious fallacy is the dictum that we should not feel a special bond for any particular country, nation, race, or culture, but transfer our preferences on the whole world, “the Humanity,” equally. Such notions have been internalized by the elite class in America and Western Europe to the point where they actively help Islamic terrorism. In America the process has been under way for decades. By 1999 then-Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott felt ready to declare that the United States may not exist “in its current form” in the 21st century, because the very concept of nationhood – here and throughout the world – will have been rendered obsolete.

A generation earlier such uttering from a senior government official would have caused a scandal. By the end of the 20th century such declarations bothered only the unsophisticates who persist in assuming that the purpose of what Dr. Talbott was doing at the Department of State was to ensure the survival, security and prosperity of the United States within the international system, rather than its eventual absorption by the system. But his was an exultant prophecy, not an impartial assessment. The ideological foundation for Talbott’s beliefs was stated bluntly: “All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary.” To the members of his class, all countries are but transient, virtual-reality entities. Owing emotional allegiance to any one of them is irrational, and risking one’s life for its sake is absurd.

The refusal of the Western elite class to protect their nations from jihadist infiltration is the biggest betrayal in history. It is rooted in the mindset that breeds the claim that “force is not an answer” to terrorism, that profiling is bad and open borders are good, that “true” Islam is peaceful and the West is wicked. The upholders of such claims belong to the culture that has lost its bond with nature, history, and the supporting community. In the meantime, thanks to them, the quiet onslaught continues unabated, across the Straits of Gibraltar, through JFK and O’Hare, Heathrow and Schiphol. Far from enhancing diversity, it threatens to impose a numbing sameness and eradicate the identity of target-populations, to demolish their special character and uniqueness.

That supporting community, the real nation, is still out there, in North America and Europe alike, working and paying taxes and grinning and bearing it. When it is told of Islam’s “peace and tolerance,” it grumbles about someone’s stupidity or ineptitude, but it still does not suspect outright betrayal. The betrayers, meanwhile, promote an ideology of universal human values, of a common culture for the whole world. They may not even realize why they abet Islam. For all the outward differences, they share with the mullahs and sheikhs and imams the desire for a monistic One World. They both long for Talbot’s Single Global Authority, post-national and seamlessly standardized, an Ummah under a fancy secular name.

Those Americans and Europeans who love their lands and nations more than any others, and who put their families and their neighborhoods before all others, are normal people. Those who tell them that their attachments should be global and that their lands and neighborhoods belong to the whole world are sick and evil. They are our enemies and jihad’s indispensable objective allies.

The elite class, rootless, arrogant, cynically manipulative, has every intention of continuing to “fight” the war on terrorism without naming the enemy, without revealing his beliefs, without unmasking his intentions, without offending his accomplices, without expelling his fifth columnists, and without ever daring to win.

It is up to the millions of normal Europeans and their American cousins to stop the madness. The traitor class wants them to share its death wish, to self-annihilate as people with a historical memory and a cultural identity, and to make room for the post-human, monistic Utopia spearheaded by the jihadist fifth column.

This crime can and must be stopped. The founders of the United States overthrew the colonial government for offenses far lighter than those of which the traitor class is guilty.

*  *  *  *  *


Capitol Hill Club, Washington D.C., May 27, 2009

At a time when the U.S. power and authority are increasingly challenged around the world, the Obama team sees the Balkans as the last geopolitically significant area where they can assert their "credibility" by postulating a maximalist set of objectives as the only outcome acceptable to the United States, and duly insisting on their fulfillment. We have already seen this pattern in Kosovo, and now we see an attempt to stage its replay in Bosnia under the demand for constitutional reform, i.e. centralization under "Dayton II."

The advocates of unitary Bosnia studiously ignore the fact that similar U.S. policies contributed to the war 17 years ago. In the spring of 1992 the late Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia before its breakup, materially contributed -- probably more than any other single man -- to the mayhem in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The facts of the case have been established beyond reasonable doubt and are no longer dosputed by experts. After Zimmermann's intervention, Alija Izetbegovic felt authorized to renege on the EU-brokered Lisbon Accord: the U.S. would come to his assistance to enforce the independence of a unitary Bosnian state.

Zimmermann's torpedoing of the EU Lisbon formula in 1992 started a trend that frustrated the Europeans, but they were helpless. Cutileiro was embittered by the US action and blamed Izetbegovic for reneging. Had the Muslims not done so, he recalled in 1995, "the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of life and land." Cutileiro also noted that the decision to renege on the signed agreement was not only Izetbegovic's, as he was encouraged to scupper that deal and to fight for a unitary Bosnian state by foreign mediators."

The motives of Zimmermann and his political bosses in Washington were not rooted in the concern for the Muslims of Bosnia as such, let alone a higher principle. It was the end-result of the interaction of several pressure groups within the American power structure. The Balkans evolved from a Yugoslav disaster and a nagging European inconvenience into a major test of "U.S. leadership." This was made possible by a bogus consensus which, amplified in the media, limited the scope for meningful debate.

Just as Germany sought to paint its Maastricht Diktat on Croatia's recognition in December 1991 as an expression of the "European consensus," after Zimmermann's intervention Washington's fait accomplis were straightfacedly labeled as "the will of the international community." Europe was resentful but helpless when the U.S. resorted to covert action to smuggle arms into Croatia and Bosnia in violation of U.N. resolutions.

THE SETTING - At the outset of the crisis in 1990-91 most inhabitants of Bosnia-Herzegovina did not want to become "Bosnians" in any political sense; but they were unaware of the extent to which their future depended on events beyond their republic's boundaries. The ruling League of Communists of Yugoslavia literally disintegrated in the first months of 1990. The resulting power vacuum was felt in Bosnia-Herzegovina more keenly than in other republics because the Party rule there was more rigidly doctrinaire. When the first multi-party election since 1938 finally took place in November 1990, the voters overwhelmingly acted in accordance with their ethnic loyalties that proved more enduring than any ideological differences between them.

The Serbs of Bosnia wanted, overwhelmingly, to preserve the status quo. As they had no desire for the destruction of Yugoslavia, they were forced into reactive posture vis-à-vis those who willed the Federation's disintegration. Their argument -- even if seldom stated with simplicity and coherence -- was clear when freed from rhetoric: they had lived in one state since 1918, when Yugoslavia came into being. They reluctantly accepted Tito's arbitrarily determined internal boundaries between the six federal republics-which left one third of them outside Serbia-proper-on the grounds that the Yugoslav framework afforded them a measure of security from the repetition of the nightmare of 1941-1945; but they could not swallow an illegal ruse that aimed to turn them into minorities, overnight and by unconstitutional means, in their own land.

Even without the vividly remembered trauma of the Second World War, they reacted in 1991-1992 just as the Anglophone citizens of Texas or Arizona might do if they are outvoted, one day, in a referendum demanding those states' incorporation into Mexico. They demanded the right that the territories, which the Serbs have inhabited as compact majorities long before the voyage of the Mayflower, not be subjected to the rule of their rivals. In the same vein the Protestant Ulstermen demanded - and were given - the right to stay apart from united Ireland when the nationalists opted for secession in 1921. In the same vein the state of West Virginia was created in 1863, incorporating those counties of the Commonwealth of Virginia that refused to be forced into secession. The Loyalists of Ulster and the Unionists of West Virginia were just as guilty of a "Joint Criminal Enterprise" to break up Ireland, or the Old Dominion, as were the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina who did not want to be dragged into secession.

Yugoslavia was a flawed polity, and there could have been no rational objection to the striving of Croats, and even Bosnian Muslims, to create their own nation-states. But equally there could have been no justification for forcing over two million Serbs west of the Drina to be incorporated into those states against their will. Yugoslavia came together in 1918 as a union of South Slav peoples, and not of states, or territorial units. Its divorce should have been effected on the same basis; the boundaries of the republics should have been altered accordingly. This is, and has been, the real foundation of the Yugoslav conflict ever since the first shots were fired in the summer of 1991. Even someone as unsympathetic to the Serb point of view as Lord David Owen conceded that Josip Broz Tito's internal administrative boundaries between Yugoslavia's republics were grossly arbitrary, and that their redrawing should have been countenanced:

Incomprehensibly, the proposal to redraw the republics' boundaries had been rejected by all eleven EC countries... [T]o rule out any discussion or opportunity for compromise in order to head off war was an extraordinary decision. My view has always been that to have stuck unyieldingly to the internal boundaries of the six republics within the former Yugoslavia... as being those for independent states, was a folly far greater than that of premature recognition itself.

Of the three ethnic-religious parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Muslim party-the SDA-was the most radical, in that it alone advocated a fundamental restructuring of the Bosnian society in accordance with divine revelation. It attempted to do so not on Bosnia's own terms, not within the Republic's own local paradigm, but within the terms of the global-historical process-as its leaders saw it-of the global Islamic renaissance. Many in the West have been in a state of denial for years about the nature of Alija Izetbegovic's long-term program, preferring to believe their own assurances that Izetbegovic's blueprint is not "Islamist" but "multicultural."

Not unlike Islamist parties elsewhere-notably the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey today-the SDA had a public, "secular" front, and an inner core of Islamic cadres that remained semi-conspiratorial in the early days. This is vividly described by one of the party's founders who had previously made a successful business career in the West, Adil Zulfikarpašić. He was appalled by the "fascist" methods of the SDA and by its "conservative, religious, populist" orientation.

Izetbegovic was an advocate of Sharia law and a theorist of the Islamic Republic long before the first shots were fired. His early views were inspired by the teaching of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Al Husseini, who toured the German-occupied Europe preaching that the Third Reich and the Muslim world had a natural community of interests. Izetbegovic's ideas subsequently matured into a comprehensive, programmatic statement in the Islamic Declaration - his de facto political platform: "The Islamic movement must, and can, take over power as soon as it is morally and numerically so strong that it can not only destroy the existing non-Islamic power, but also build up a new Islamic one... There is no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions."

This was a political program par excellence. The author's contempt for Western values is evident in his dismissal of the Kemalist tradition: "Turkey as an Islamic country used to rule the world. Turkey as an imitation of Europe represents a third-rate country the like of which there is a hundred in the world." Elsewhere, he accepts the "achievements of Euro-American civilization" but only in the area of "science and technology... we shall have to accept them if we wish to survive." In a revealing sentence, Izetbegović discusses the status of non-Muslims in countries with Muslim majorities: "The non-Muslim minorities within an Islamic state, on condition that they are loyal [emphasis added], enjoy religious freedom and all protection." He advocates "the creation of a united Islamic community from Morocco to Indonesia." Izetbegovic's views are unremarkable from a traditional Islamic point of view. The final objective is Dar al Islam, where Muslims dominate and infidels submit. That is the meaning of Izetbegovic's apparent generosity to the non-Muslims, "provided that they are loyal": the non-Muslims can be "protected persons" only if they submitted to Islamic domination.

The current clamoring for unitarization raises an old question that remains unanswered by the Bosnifiers: If the old Yugoslavia was untenable and eventually collapsed under the weight of the supposedly insurmountable differences among its constituent nations, how can Bosnia-the Yugoslav microcosm par excellence-develop and sustain the dynamics of a viable polity?

The campaign against the RS is detrimental to what America should stand for in the world. It seeks to give further credence to the myth of Muslim blameless victimhood, Serb viciousness, and Western indifference, and therefore weaken our resolve in the global struggle euphemistically known as "war on terrorism." The former is a crime; the latter, a mistake. Yet there is no true debate in Washington on the ends and uses of American power, in the Balkans or anywhere else. The ideologues' resistance to any external checks and balances on the exercise of that power is upheld. Obama's team and Bush's may differ in some shades of rhetoric, but they are one regime, identical in substance and consequence. Its leading lights will go on disputing the validity of the emerging balance-of-power system because they reject the legitimacy of any power in the world other than that of the United States, controlled and exercised by themselves. They will scoff at the warning of 1815, 1918, or 1945 as inapplicable in the post-history that they seek to construct. They will confront the argument that no vital American interest worthy of risking a major war is involved in Russia's or China's near-abroad with the claim that the whole world is America's near-abroad.

It is vexing that the demand for rekindling the Bosnian crisis comes at a particularly dangerous period in world affairs: the return of asymmetrical multipolarity. Following a brief period of post-1991 full-spectrum dominance, for the first time after the Cold War the government of the United States is facing active resistance from one or more major powers. More important than the anatomy of the South Ossetian crisis last August, or the Taiwanese crisis three years from now, is the reactive powers' refusal to accept the validity of Washington's ideological assumptions or the legitimacy of its resulting geopolitical claims. At the same time, far from critically reconsidering the Bushies' hegemonsitic assumptions and claims, the key decision-makers in the Obama Administration will continue to uphold them.

Their ambition, unlimited in principle, will remain unaffected by the ongoing financial crisis, just as Moscow's Cold War expansionism was enhanced, rather than curtailed, by the evident shortcomings of the Soviet centrally planned economy. Come what may, they will not allow the reality of global politics to interfere with their world outlook, "neoliberal" or "neoconservative," but hegemonic and irrational at all times.


The Problem, The Prospects, Ukraine's Response
Srdja Trifkovic
Presented at the AIU forum in Kiev, June 17, 2010

Ukraine faces sustained security challenges from its southwestern neighbor Romania. Those challenges reflect a remarkable continuity of Romania’s geopolitical objectives, regardless of the nature of its domestic regime. They require carefully calibrated policy responses from Kiev. This fact was blurred by the visceral Russophobia of Ukraine’s previous government, to the detriment of both parties. It is now finally possible to look at the challenges Ukraine faces on its southwestern borders through the realist prism, and to consider specific counter-measures that are proportionate to the challenge, feasible, and useful.

THE PARADIGM – The notion of interests and the policies that they engender are defined by the ideological framework in which they are embedded. Both the old Soviet notion of the “fraternal community” and the current notion of “European integration” are derived from neo-Marxist utopianism. Both hold that Man is improvable and that permanent peace within a stable, supra-nationally controlled system is the attainable order of things. Both believe in their ability to make the international system as they wanted it to be, rather than dealing with it as it is.

It is realism that, unlike either utopian school, places national interest, pragmatically defined and quantifiable, at the basis of international affairs. It accepts the reality of a world where might is often right, rivalry the norm, and the immutable constants of history, culture, and geopolitics outweigh propositional slogans emanating from Moscow (before 1989) or from Brussels (today).

From the realist vantage point, it is evident that Romania’s cultural narratives, national objectives and state interests – as articulated by its political elite ever since the Congress of Berlin (with the exception of two decades following World War II) – make that country Ukraine’s most adversarial and potentially dangerous neighbor.

THE CHALLENGE – At this time, four key elements of the Romanian elite consensus directly affect Ukraine:

  • Romanians are claimed to be a civilizational outpost of “the West” amidst the Slav-Magyar sea, and in the 21st century they supposedly remain Europe’s “last bastion before the immense, vague and unsettling space left behind in the wake of the disintegration of the Soviet Union.”
  • Moldovans east of the Prut speak the Romanian language and are Romanians (even when they do not acknowledge the fact); therefore, they should be incorporated into Romania on the basis of the right to self-determination.
  • Not only the Republic of Moldova, but also Ukrainian territories to its south and north (Bukovina), annexed by the USSR in 1940, should be “returned” to Romania based on its legal rights – by undoing the fruits of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Last January President Traian Basescu thus declared in Kishinev that he would not sign a Border Treaty with Moldova: “I will never sign what Hitler with Stalin have signed. I will never confirm that Romania’s border passes on Prut River. There may be discussions about a contract, an agreement concerning the border regime, but there is no way I can discuss an agreement based on which I will confirm that the border passes from here to there.”
  • In any event, Bucharest has a valid title to the territories of pre-1940 Romania mare on the basis of its historic rights. In May 2010, President Basescu thus stated: “If Kiev has pretensions concerning the return of Transdniestria to Ukraine, then officials there should not forget about the return to Chisinau of Southern Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, territories which the former Ukrainian SSR received after the Second World War.”

HISTORICAL LEGACY – Before 1878, the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (united in 1859) looked upon Russia as an essential source of external support in their emancipation from the Ottomans. The United Principalities took part in the siege of Plevna, but their hopes of enlargement along the Black Sea were soon dashed. Russia took back Bessarabia (lost after the Crimean War) and awarded southern Dobruja to its then favorite, Bulgaria. The effect on the political class of the newly established Romanian state (“undeserving of statehood” as it was, according to Bismarck) was both immediate and decisive:

  • The early-19th-century national-romantic myth of the Romanians as linguistic and cultural heirs to Rome morphed into the nationalist ideology of Romania as an outpost of the Western civilization amidst the allegedly inferior ocean of Slavs and Magyars.
  • The irredentist aspiration to Bessarabia and resentment of Russia outweighed the bitterness over the Magyar treatment of the Romanian minority in Transylvania, drawing Romania to the Central Powers in the three decades preceding World War I.

Romanian nationalism, freshly minted, weak and insecure, thus came to rest on two pillars, and the equation has not changed in essence for almost a century and a half:

  • Audacious territorial aspirations, primarily directed eastwards, and
  • Antagonism to “the Other,” directed at Budapest and St. Petersburg.

The collapse of Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia made possible the creation of the Greater Romania (1918-1940), by crook more than by hook. East of the Prut, however, Bucharest proved singularly unequal to the task of nation building. Bessarabia remained un-integrated socially, undeveloped economically, resentful politically; most of its Moldovan-speaking plurality remained reluctant to embrace a “Romanian” identity.

The disasters of 1940 – the loss of northern Transylvania to Horthy, southern Dobruja to Boris and Bessarabia to Stalin, without a shot being fired – were to be alleviated by Hitler’s gift of Bukovina and an insanely expanded “Transnistria” all the way to the Bug, comprising a fifth of Ukraine, as a reward for Romania’s participation in the Barbarossa. Ethnic cleansing started right away, justified by an openly racist attitude of Romania that treated Jews and Slavs as equally sub-human. The hasty switch of allegiance came in August 1944, however, enabling Romania to avoid facing squarely the demons of its recent past. They are still with us today.

PLUS ÇA CHANGE… – A radical change in the composition of Romania’s political class took place under communism. Its core consensus and nationalist agenda have not changed, however. In 1991 Romania rushed to be the first country to recognize the newly-independent Republic of Moldova. The government of Ion Iliescu, Nicolae Ceausescu’s neo-communist successor, saw its independence as a step towards its reunification with Romania. It hailed the event with a rousing statement that could have been counter-signed by Marshal Antonescu:

“The proclamation of an independent Romanian state in the territories annexed by force following the secret agreements of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact represents a decisive step toward the peaceful elimination of that pact’s unfortunate consequences directed against the rights and interests of the Romanian people.”

During the Transdnistrian conflict, Romania sent a contingent of volunteers and military advisers to fight alongside Moldovan forces, and supplied them with weapons. When Moldova started having second thoughts about the union, however, the reaction in Bucharest was acerbic. On April 14, 1994, the Romanian Parliament adopted a declaration of protest against the decision of the Moldovan Parliament to join the CIS. The protest contained an audacious blend of nationalist claims based on ethno-linguistic, historic, and late-19th-century “civilizational” arguments:

“The vote of the Parliament in Chişinău regrettably reconfirms the criminal [Ribbentrop-Molotov] pact and irresponsibly cancels the right of the Romanian nation to live within the integrity of its historical and spiritual space. [...] Through the geographical position, culture, history and traditions, the natural place of our brothers from across the Prut is, undoubtedly, together with us, in the great family of the European nations, and by no means in a Eurasian structure.”

Sixteen years later, in May 2010, President Traian Basescu used the same terms of reference in his aggressive reaction to the unsubstantiated claim that Presidents Medvedev and Yanukovich had reached a secret understanding on the future of Moldova and Transdnistria:

“Moscow and now Kyiv are trying to create on the territory that, at the end of World War II should have been returned to Romania, a pseudo-federation of three political-legal pseudo-subjects. But we will do everything to oppose the Russian-Ukrainian plan for the amputation of Bessarabia.”

It is remarkable that the head of state should feel compelled to react to an allegation that is unconfirmed and unproven; it is even more noteworthy that he should use such bellicose language. But at he last he is consistent and open: already in January 2006, Basescu had declared that “the minimal policy of Romania is for the unification of the Romanian nation to take place within the EU.” Note the phrase minimal policy, implying the existence of a maximal policy that presumably goes way beyond mere unification with Moldova. The reality of the project is apparent in the decision to grant Romanian citizenship to all residents of the territories belonging to the pre-1940 Greater Romania and their descendants, up to the third generation – including the denizens of Bukovina (Chernovtsy) and southern Bessarabia (Budjak).

UKRAINIAN RESPONSE – The policies and stated positions of Bucharest represent an open challenge to Ukraine as a state and a threat to its core interests. The response to that challenge has been muted and indecisive thus far. Its articulation in realist terms should be a priority for the decision makers in Kiev.

To start with, Ukraine should overcome the previous government’s propensity to embrace the Euro-integrative discourse, which inhibited asserting its interests in a reasonable, clear and unambiguous manner. Ukraine’s reluctance to do so over the years has created the expectation in Bucharest that it can get away with a dual-track policy of pursuing its revisionist-nationalist agenda, and at the same time pretending to be Ukraine’s special friend and advocate within the EU. With “friends” like Basescu, Ukraine needs no detractors.

ROMANIA’S WEAKNESSES: Kiev’s response to the challenge should take account of the fundamental weakness of Romania’s position, both internally and externally:

  • Romania does not enjoy a carte blanche from Brussels, or from any major West European capital, for its irredentist-revisionist policy. In fact, its status within the EU – low to start with – has been further eroded, albeit indirectly, by the Greek financial crisis. Key European countries are more impatient than ever with their poor relations along the periphery of the Union. They have no time for their special pleading, and do not care one way or another for whose flag flies over Kishinev or Tiraspol. They will not hesitate to express their lack of support for Romania’s designs if asked to state their preferences. The reason Romania has been able to pretend that it enjoys the support of “Europe” in its aspirations has been Ukraine’s reluctance to force the issue and test that proposition.
  • Romania does not enjoy the support of the Obama administration either for its irredentist-revisionist designs. Admittedly, Bucharest gets private encouragement for such ambitions from various neoconservative “analysts” who still pursue a Russophobic, NATO-for-ever agenda, yet those people represent nobody but themselves. They may pretend to have official connections and influence, and their Romanian hosts may be lured into believing it. Ukraine can and should call their bluff, in view of Yanukovich’s high stock in Washington after his visit last spring.
  • Romania is no longer able to count on the Orange animosity to Russia as the welcome focus of Ukraine’s external priorities. To the contrary, Ukraine is now able to discuss and coordinate its policies with Moscow, since their interests in the region are “objectively” identical. This is particularly significant in view of the growing special relationship between Russia and Germany, manifested in the opening of the North Stream pipeline: Europe’s overall indifference to the rekindling of regional tension is strengthened by Moscow’s ability to exert influence in Berlin on specific issues it deems worthy of attention.
  • Romania cannot count on clear support for its agenda in Moldova – not even for what Basescu calls the “minimal policy” of unification. The Unionists may be ascendant right now, but the opposition to “the reunion with the Romanian motherland” remains strong. The support is largely pragmatic (i.e. EU membership and associated presumed benefits) rather than emotional and cultural, which makes it soft and volatile.
  • Within Romania itself, there is no real consensus on the irredentist objectives of the political elite. Ordinary Romanians are too preoccupied with the daily struggle of making ends meet in what is officially the poorest EU member-country (per capita GDP). Polls indicate that barely one-half of the population supports a union with Moldova and a third rejects it. Among those supporting the union, it is worthy of note that a half would be willing to give up Transdnistria. The cost of the project is broadly suspected of exceeding (in relative terms, of course) FRG’s cost of integrating GDR. Anecdotal evidence also indicates a sense of cultural detachment from the trans-Prut Moldovans, who are perceived as less than diligent and generally “primitive.”
  • Romania’s aspiration to “regional leadership” – a theme that had inexplicably resonated in Kiev for years until last January – is entirely bogus, and it is the source of actual or potential friction with Warsaw and Budapest. “Leadership” presumes the qualities of legitimacy and cultural, political or economic power that underpin the leader’s willingly accepted benevolent authority. On no account can Romania aspire to such a lofty position. In the words of a Bucharest-based Western diplomat, “it needs to be led, rather than lead.”
  • Romania has ambiguous relations, at best, with all of her neighbors, and tense with two. (a) The new Fidesz government is Hungary takes an active interest in the status of Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries, and it advocates autonomy for the Hungarians of Transylvania, which the authorities in Bucharest say they will not accept. (b) In eastern Serbia, the Romanian government is actively promoting the “awakening” of the Vlachs, traditionally well integrated, and the unprecedented establishment of parallel ecclesiastical structures of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
  • Romania has no military option a la Saakashvili, being within NATO and having no green light from any quarter for an act of reckless adventurism. Far from giving it the muscle for assertiveness, EU and NATO membership create salutary constraints in the behavior of Bucharest and provide affected third parties (in this case Ukraine and Russia) with the means of exerting indirect influence, and – if needed – pressure.

Ukraine should assert its interests with five low-cost, low-risk policy moves:

  • Ukrainian law does not recognize dual citizenship, but it should be augmented by the prospect of the loss of Ukrainian citizenship by permanent residents of Ukraine who accept the citizenship of another country. This would not affect the Ukrainians e.g. in Toronto who take the citizenship of Canada, but it would quite properly affect those living in Chernivtsi or Izmail who take the citizenship of Romania and thus implicitly accept the validity of its continuing claim to the pre-1940 Romania mare.
  • Ukraine should intensify its relations with the new Hungarian government, with which it shares common interest in denying Romania any special or privileged position in the context of regional cooperation and Euro-integration. Budapest has already signaled its interest in a new chapter in its relations with both Ukraine and Moldova.
  • Ukraine should increase the awareness of Romania’s problematic positions and policies by indirectly supporting and promoting events, research and publications – primarily in Western Europe and North America – conducive to its views on regional stability.
  • Ukraine should indicate to its West European interlocutors that it needs no third parties as its pleaders in the process of drawing closer to the EU. There will be no eastward expansion of the Union anyway, but Romania nevertheless should be disabused of its pretensions to be Ukraine’s self-appointed chaperone in Brussels.
  • Ukraine should proceed with the Bystroye project, and indicate that it would treat any attempt to dig a counter-canal upstream as an overtly hostile act.

The challenge Ukraine faces from Romania is not going to fade away because it is based on the cultural, strategic and geopolitical realities that are relatively constant. That challenge can and should be met more forcefully than before, and recognizing its existence would be the necessary first step. The source of the challenge is relatively weak and vulnerable. With its size, resources, and comparative advantages, Ukraine has nothing to fear in tackling it responsibly but firmly.