On Sunday, Moldovans go to the polls to choose Europe or Russia. In a sane world, this would be an easy choice; whatever Europe’s many flaws, it is not nearly the danger to life, liberty, economic progress, health, material well-being, human rights, and basic sanitation Moscow is.
We do not live in a sane world. Instead, we live in a world Vladimir Putin is slowly creating as we watch.
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe; its economy is a shambles; its government is a sinkhole of internecine and cross-political warfare and endemic corruption; it is riven by separatist regions that are Russian in all but name; and any honest accounting of the place would describe it more a broken relic that should belong in Vladimir Putin’s nascent empire than in a Europe that is still struggling to a common future.
And yet it must choose Europe.
The new Russian Empire is brittle, and is little more than an effort to make again what has failed twice in the last century alone. Although there is a great deal in the short term to favor the Eurasian Customs Union over the European Union, if Moldova is ever to have a chance at its own future, it must be a voluntary future joined to the well-meaning incompetents of Europe, rather than the malicious incompetents of Russia. For Vladimir Putin understands what so many do not: that an Empire need not be a single, contiguous nation-state, but may instead be a group of nations independent in name only, bound to an imperial center.
Vladimir Putin will not live forever, nor will his successor; but no Russian emperor will willingly let Moldova go free a second time without massive bloodshed.
Moreover, Europe has an economic future. Today, Russia’s future lasts only as long as its proven petrochemical reserves. Europe has low population and therefore low economic growth; Russia has negative population growth, and its economic growth will follow suit as oil prices continue to plummet. Moldova’s political and economic futures can only come to be, no matter the short-term pain, with Europe.
By Monday morning, we will know how Moldova has chosen. Sunday, for their future and their children’s and their children’s children’s, they must choose the West.
Image Copyright Wikimedia Commons/Dave Proffer