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  Nr. 4194 de joi, 27 martie 2008 
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On the people and the rulers: 1918
Exactly 90 years ago, Basarabia decided to unify with Romania, after almost one century of Russian domination. In iasi people danced on streets, still an ocean of sorrow was the companion of joy. Romania's destiny looked gloomy in March 1918.
Bucharest had been under German occupation for one year and a half. Both military and administration had chosen Moldavia. After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the Romanian troops were alone on the Eastern front. The war looked lost for ever. The foreign military missions had left Iasi. Alexandru Marghiloman had already signed the shameless "provisory peace" in Buftea. Romania was to lose the entire Dobrogea (the sea mouth) and important pieces of land along the borders with Transylvania. Determined to resist till the last minute, the Royal Family had an "extraction" plan, through Russia and Mesopotamia till the allies' front.
King Ferdinand, who had agreed to fight against his own family in order to serve the national interest of his adoptive country, was being accused of dragging Romania into an irresponsible adventure. Queen Mary, who had enthusiastically pleaded for intervention on the Allied side, had become unpopular all of a sudden, despite her exemplary conduct as "mother of the wounded". When the events on the Eastern front miraculously overthrew the fate of the war, the two monarchs gained back all the adepts thet had lost.
Public opinion has always been changing. Fortunately, the rulers Romania had at the time didn't use to govern depending on opinion polls. They wouldn't sacrifice national interest for the sake of their own images. Years later, Quee Mary was writing in her diary that one had to put up with the lack of popularity for a noble cause: "I have got the strength to overcome the seemingly ugly and unpopular moment in order to reach the essential, the one that must not be disconsidered because of trifles..." She bore no grudge to her unfaithful subjects, who had so injustly judged her at times most difficult for her and for the country: "I have learned to know my Romanians and I know why the Anglo-Saxon-German race is necessary to them like a resisting support: because they are inflamable, easy to irritate, influenced by the passion of the moment and by their irresitible wish for change. When someone doesn't meet their expectations, they would like to destroy them at once, even if they are idols, and replace them with different idols..."
Queen Mary's remark seems strangely fit for the present times. The people is the same. Unfortunately, the present rulers are made of a totally different clay. We have got no country makers, but only gang leaders. How can one ask them for posterity prospects, when their aspirations don't even reach an entire electoral cycle? Who is there to proceed to achievements difficult to make, since recriminations are so fashionable? Great projects are seldom elaborated, but they never really start. Power itself has become a target, instead of a means to serve the general good. We almost find it normal. We are no longer asking our leaders for the skills and sacrifices once implicit.
Honor, duty, patriotism, sacrifice... Even the words sound artificial nowadays. And still there was a time when they were not just words, just cheap demagogy. In February 1917, Colonel Constantin Crainiceanu was senteced to 15 years of labour because of his complicity wih two deserters who had planned to make the Romanian military in Moldavia change attitude and join Germany. The colonel was the son of a general and the nephew of another general. His mother's brother was Constantin Prezan, head of the Romanian military. He annulled the too 'soft' sentence and sent his betraying nephew to face the War Council. Then he signed the death sentence with his own hand. A ruler was to be an example. Unfortunately, such examples are impossible to find in today's public life in Romania. And earstwhile heroes have been forgotten.
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