Moldova and the Coming Conflicts

moldova042109.jpgBelow is an excerpt of a frightening, slightly exaggerated, but not entirely untrue opinion article in The Weekly Standard about the Moldova protests by Stephen Schwartz.

The new election of an outright Communist government was bound to stimulate discontent among Moldovan youth, who have never known the harsh realities of Slavic rule. But once again, in Eastern Europe the long-established historical paradigm defines reality. With apparent contempt for the flirtation with Moscow offered by the Obama administration, Putin and his gang are bent on firming up control over their former possessions and neighbors. A Communist regime in Moldova was merely a step, according to regional critics of Putin â s intentions, toward a long-expected assault on independent Ukraine. And it was probably no coincidence that the upheaval in Moldova paralleled Moscow’s assertion that Chechnya has been pacified. Chechnya borders Georgia, and many observers believe that Putin is preparing another attack on the latter country, later this year, perhaps crossing the Chechen area. (…)

In the frontline of opposition to revived Russian aggression,Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, and Kosovo are key players, inhabited bypeoples who despise Putin and are also ready to fight for the freedomsthey have gained in the past 20 years. Is Moldova worth Americanengagement? Probably not. But the likelihood that President Obama willabandon our commitment to place missile defense facilities in Polandand the Czech Republic would send the worst possible message to Moscow.Russian expansionism has gained new life, regardless of the blows ofthe global economic crisis. It can no more be ameliorated by diplomacythan can the threat of Iran and other extreme Islamist enemies ofdemocracy, or the radical leftist upsurge in Latin America.

Let us hope that future historians do not look back at the events inMoldova and judge that obliviousness about such remote issues led us tonew and worse appeasement. In the case of Moldova, we need to know nowwhat Putin and his co-conspirators, including those in Serbia, intend,and to prepare for committed opposition to their brutal adventurism.

Photo: A man holds a newspaper with a photo of Tuesday’s clashes during anopposition rally in Chisinau on April 12, 2009. About 10,000 peoplerallied in Moldova today against President Vladimir Voronin‘s “dictatorial” leadership as the constitutional court ordered a recount of disputed legislative elections. (Getty Images)