The members of the CSAT (Supreme Council for National Defense) are meeting in Cotroceni Palact today, with the head of state as chair of the meeting. The minute Traian Basescu and Calin Popescu Tariceanu turned into each other's enemy, the CSAT meetings turned into a battlefield with the two sides fighting in the open.
The Romanian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the national security laws, the reform of the military and of the secret services, as well as contracts of billion Euro meant for equipment to be purchased by the Ministry of National Defense have been pretexts for Traian Basescu to impose his own opinions during the CSAT meetings. Momentary pride or Traian Basescu's wish to fuel the special relations with the Glowworm over the Ocean have prevented the making of decisions effecting on the relations with the EU, the changing of outdated laws, the reforming of institutions in the field of defense, public order an national security. It has also prevented the start of strategic programs to purchase modern equipment.
Romanian troops' participation in Iraq was the reason why minister Teodor Atanasiu lost his position. At that time, it was not the Liberals' idea that troops should be called home from Iraq that was the apple of discord between the Romanian President and PM. The apple of discord was the way minister Atanasiu took it up, for he made use of the military intelligence services to express a political clue coming from a party, but not from the government or other institution with attributions in the field. In the end Traian Basescu's muscles were stronger that Calin Popescu Tariceanu's and the Liberal idea to have a calendar for the withdrawal from Iraq drawn failed lamentably.
This is the right time for drawing a clear deadline for Romania's withdrawal from Iraq, as most of the participating states have already done it or they have got withdrawal calendars. It is the right time because this month Romania has become the third state in the Iraqi Freedom mission, with soldiers from 26 countries participating, most of them from the US and Britain. We should carefully count the human resources we have got available, since we are to carry on with our commitments in Afghanistan under the NATO auspices and to send more troops. There is also the fact that a participation of troops from Chad and the Central Africa Republic under the EU auspices is looming ahead.
In today's meeting the CSAT members are to analyze the status of military staff as well. It is an issue giving President Basescu and the Defense Ministry officials headaches. As for the reform and the restructuring, they have been talked about in the ministry lounges for years now. It is just that a critical moment has been reached now and neither the Romanian military heads nor the Defense Ministry officials can avoid it any longer.
In the Defense Ministry there are two human resources departments: one headed by Admiral Marin and the other ruled by Teodor Melescanu. And the restructuring idea has uncovered a conflict between generals and colonels. The strategies embraced by the ex head of the Personnel and Mobilization Department, a sailor who is seasick, have opened war in the Defense Ministry. It has probably got to Cotroceni Palace as well, after the memo written by a group of dissident generals.
As for the strategic programs on the military equipment, a big issue is at stake in today's meeting: the 4 billion Euro contract on the new multi-role aircraft. Traian Basescu is standing by the Americans who want to make us buy second-hand F-16 planes, whereas the Romanian PM and the defense minister are on the side of the Eurofighter or Gripen Europeans, who want to deliver us a new aircraft, with an over 80% offset.
So we are curious to see the muscles of Traian Basescu "the Zeus" facing those of Calin Popescu Tariceanu "the Soft", who is rather clean after the local elections.