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Romanian and U.S. militarism
increases insecurity in South Eastern
Europa and the Black Sea Region



Kai Frithjof Brand-Jakobsen, TFF Associate


March 1, 2006

''Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.''

President Dwight Eisenhower


The agreement recently signed between the government of Romania and the government of the United States represents one of the greatest political failures in Romania in recent decades. It is part of a continuing policy rooted in the absence of responsible politics and a reliance on increasing militarism and aggressive military engagement in a broader US dependent alliance.

Romania is the first post-Warsaw pact country to establish permanent US military bases in its territory, contributing to increased insecurity and militarization of the Black Sea region. This step is part of the policies of Romanian governments over the past 14 years - regardless of political party - which have led to the promotion of increased militarization, participation in three foreign wars and accompanying occupation, and misuse of national resources for excessive and unnecessary military expenditures.

US military deployment in Romania will include use of the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase in southern Romania as the centre for its Eastern European Task Force (EATF). US forces will also use the Smardan training range, Babadag training area and Cincu training range. This is not the first time Romania has cooperated with the US military. In 2003 American soldiers used the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base to transfer US soldiers and military property into Iraq during the early stage of the Iraq war. Romania is also one of the few countries in the world which has increased its military presence in the occupation and war in Iraq, rather than calling for their withdrawal. Romania has 860 troops in the US occupation of Iraq, and additional troops in Afghanistan. Romania is also widely believed within Europe, internationally, and by Human Rights Watch, to be hosting a secret prison at the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase as part of the United States global prison terror network, involving wide-spread illegal abduction and use of torture.

Given Romania's own historical experiences of brutal and violent repression and use of torture against citizens by an authoritarian regime, Romania's believed participation in this US run torture network, if true, is one of the greatest betrayals by the regime to the cause of human rights, democracy and freedom in Romania and internationally.

Active and engaged discussion of these issues, by all levels of Romanian society, media, academics and politicians is essential, whatever one's position. Dialogue and investigation of alternatives and appropriate policies are vital. The participation of Romania as a host of foreign military bases and participant in wars which escalate and increase violence and threat of terrorism world-wide represents an extreme negative choice in the range of options facing the country. The measly economic benefit which will be brought in by US bases - a core focus of nearly all media reporting on the issue - will not equal the economic loss to Romania through misappropriation of revenue for increased military expenditures and the Bechtel highway in the country, nor the damage done by Romania for prospects for greater democratization and economic, social and political cooperation in Europe, South Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region. Romania today is becoming a country rapidly losing the respect of its own citizens and the world for the foreign policy roles it is playing.

In 1968 when the Soviet military illegally invaded Czechoslovakia, Romania had the courage and integrity to refuse to take part, and provided a refuge and asylum to Czechoslovak dissidents. This represented a high-point in Romania's refusal to be involved in illegal acts of aggression and war, even when under significant pressure, building upon its past positive experience in the inter-war period in promoting disarmament and non-aggression. In 2002 Romania was one of the first countries to ask to be allowed to participate in the illegal war and occupation in Iraq which has so far contributed to the deaths of more than 100,000 Iraqi citizens, and continued instability and violence in the country, including wide-spread use of torture and human rights violations by the occupying countries.

In 1958 Soviet military forces and bases were withdrawn from Romania representing a step, if only a small one, to increased independence and sovereignty for the country. In 2005, Romania has invited another foreign power to establish military bases on Romanian soil, contributing to the expansion of military bases world-wide and a failure to develop responsible, effective and practical policies to deal with the challenges and issues facing Romania and the world today. Experience from the United States global network of bases has also shown a long track record of increases in prostitution, sexual violence, and rape, bringing negative social consequences, environmental pollution and human rights violations.


Concrete Proposals and Therapy

These policies and their importance to the country mean that they belong in the democratic space of decision making where all citizens have a right and responsibility to take part. Media, academics, NGOs, writers, politicians and all citizens in the country have a vital role to play in engendering a vibrant, constructive discussion of the challenges and issues facing Romania, domestically and internationally, and developing effective policies and responses which address the needs of Romania and its citizens and contribute to the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the effective and peaceful transformation of conflicts in the region and internationally.

The following are a number of proposals which represent a practical and principled alternative for Romanian foreign policy:

Non-stationing of foreign military bases in Romania: a policy which would prevent any country from maintaining foreign military bases in Romania, including withdrawal from all treaties which allow for the positioning of foreign military bases and the use of Romanian territory and airspace for military action against other countries

Non-participation in illegal wars and acts of aggression against foreign countries: including respect for international law and the UN charter and withdrawal of all Romanian military units and personnel participating in the US wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan

Active participation in international fora, the UN and European Union to develop effective responses and practical solutions to the challenges of war and terrorism in the world today: Romania has so far played a minimal if not totally absent role in meaningful efforts by countries internationally to develop effective responses to addressing the root causes of terrorism (state and non-state), and developing effective mechanisms and tools for the resolution of domestic and international conflicts and prevention of war. This should change, with Romania, building upon its own historical experience, playing an active role in building international cooperation and alliances (with governments and citizens) to promote dialogue, respect for human rights, and regional and international efforts to transform conflicts constructively and effectively through peaceful means.

Promotion of a 'Demilitarized Zone/Peace Zone' in the Black Sea Region: As an example of this, Romania could pioneer a policy of constructive engagement with all countries in the Black Sea Region for the total demilitarization of this international space and the promotion of greater regional social, political and economic development and integration and creation of a Zone of Peace in the Black Sea Region.

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Support for the creation of a UN Commission on Peacebuilding and EU Peace Commissioner and Peacebuilding Office: Going a step further, Romania could play an active role in supporting the development of effective infrastructure and mechanisms for the peaceful resolution and transformation of conflicts within Europe and internationally

Establish a Romanian Ministry for Peace, Civil Peace Service and national peacebuilding infrastructure: Addressing this on a domestic level and following the model now being developed throughout Europe and internationally to professionally train foreign service and civil personnel for crisis response and prevention, conflict transformation, emergency relief and humanitarian aid, and post-war and post-violence recovery and reconstruction

Support democratization, human rights mobilization and peace work in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States and Britain: Providing direct government-to-government, citizen-to-citizen, civil society and sectoral cooperation - including teachers, engineers, and human rights workers - to organisations, communities and citizens in these countries working to promote democratization, respect for human rights, and the transformation of conflicts within their countries and in their countries' engagement internationally.

Support and encourage responsible media reporting: The media has a vital role to play in ensuring that citizens have access to correct and diverse information. Citizens, academics, politicians, and NGOs should support and encourage media and journalists in Romania to critically question and investigate and provide professional and responsible reporting and coverage of diverse opinions on such important issues.

Promote democratic discussion and involvement on these issues in Romania: Including creating citizens fora and spaces for discussing these issues, public meetings, and vibrant dialogue and sharing of opinions and perspectives, as well as direct action to promote awareness and understanding of the issues facing the country and responsible policy options and alternatives.


These are policies which, if properly discussed and brought forward, could be supported by the overwhelming majority of citizens in Romania, and earn Romania the respect of the international community.

Continuing on Romania's current path can only lead to increased disillusionment and loss of respect for Romania as a member of the community of nations, and Romania's continuing contribution to war crimes and crimes against humanity through participation in wars and (possible) torture networks.

Alternatives are possible. It is up to citizens, media, academics, writers, politicians and all sectors of society in Romania to discuss these issues, to explore the impacts and effects of different policies and actions, and to choose through democratic processes the policies which meet the needs of the country, and contribute to the promotion of peace, human rights, and the abolition of war and terrorism world-wide.

The challenge is there! May we have the courage to take it up.


Links and Resources

Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR)

Foreign Policy in Focus


US Department of Peace

Ministry for peace UK

Department of Peace Canada

TFF - Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research

Conflict Prevention Partnership

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC)

Z Magazine

European Peacebuilding Liaison Office

Nonviolent Peaceforce


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