"The End of Childhood". Moldova Should Take Control of Its Own Fate

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Both our own and international experience prove that outsourcing state-building issues to international partners is not the best idea
Semyon ALBU, RTA expert: A special feature of the modern information space is that the focus of consumers' attention never dwells on anything for too long. Hot newsworthy events are arriving in rapid succession, often leaving no time to critically scrutinize them. However, this week's events in a distant Afghanistan clearly stood out even against this backdrop. The rapid withdrawal of American forces from the country, the almost instant destruction of the political regime they had established, fear and horror at the Kabul airport - the catastrophic end of this incredibly long, twenty-year-long conflict shocked almost the entire international community, previously confident in the omnipotence of the United States. The scale of the defeat, amplified by the corresponding media coverage, reminiscent of scenes from the Hollywood apocalypse movies, highly impressed, and the Americans' failure in Afghanistan was holistic. The military operation, in fact, ended in nothing, since the Taliban terrorist movement regained its control over this Central Asian state. An attempt to build a nation using Western, "democratic" patterns ended in complete failure and triumph of medieval Islamic fundamentalism. The pro-American regime in Kabul was collapsing at a speed that no one expected, severely damaging the U.S. image. And this is not to mention the colossal costs spent on this war, amounting to about two trillion dollars which in fact went to waste. All that dramatic events have already evoked many expert responses and assessments worldwide: in the United States itself, most of the media, including even those loyal to the current leadership of the country, indulge in criticism, lamentations and self-deprecation; the rest of the world talks about the short- and long-term consequences of today's Afghan war. Many of our experts also did not stand aside, expressing different points of view, both trivial and not. In my opinion, it would be somewhat reckless to draw direct analogies in this regard, but the experience of building a “correct” state in Afghanistan seems to be very interesting. Though Washington rebuffs having such a goal from the start, all the past statements and, more importantly, actions testify to the opposite. In fact, twenty years ago the United States established a completely dependent regime in Afghanistan, subsidized by billions directly from the American budget and guarded by tens of thousands of coalition soldiers. In fact, it was a secret desire of many of our Western representatives, who dream of not being responsible for anything and absorbing the never-ending flow of external funding. What could have gone wrong in this situation? As it turned out, everything. The regime built in Afghanistan had formed a close bond with the advisers-governors and was incredibly corrupt and ineffective. Misappropriation of aid, including on numerous infrastructure projects, reached unimaginable scale, and at some point the political elite even withdrew almost a billion dollars from the central bank of Kabul through various schemes (does it ring any bells?). The country's westernization completely failed and did nothing but fueled anti-Western sentiments. As a result, the pro-American government was extremely unpopular and was not accepted by the overwhelming majority of the population. This was the main reason why it collapsed immediately after the withdrawal of the Western contingents had barely started, since it was only due to the military presence that the American regime managed to keep afloat. After all, almost no one came out to fight for the existing "democratic" regime, and the country's army, reformed in line with the Western patterns, nominally numbering hundreds of thousands of soldiers supported by tens of billions of dollars, fell to pieces like a house of cards. Thus, a whole generation of the US-led collective West has failed to build an exemplary democracy in a country, which is not the largest one, despite the enormous efforts. In this sense, one should think about insofar the attempts to impose a certain universal value module on all states are viable, regardless of their historical and cultural specifics. As for Moldova, I believe that the ongoing catastrophe in Afghanistan was partially experienced by our country when it was ruled by the alliances for European integration. Parallels suggest themselves, with certain conventions, of course. The riots in Chisinau sanctioned and supported from the outside in 2009 in fact triggered radical changes in the local political landscape. With the hands of the West, we formed a loyal ruling alliance, which was also ineffective and corrupt leading to the theft of a billion euros from the country's banking system, and as a result was swept away by the local "Taliban" in the person of Vlad Plahotniuc's group. It was only through the joined efforts of the three main geopolitical players in our region that he was finally expelled from the republic. What was happening in our country during the 2010s and what is happening in Afghanistan right now should put an end to the naive childhood dreams that still hover in the minds of most of our politicians that Moldova must by all means be "saved" by the Western partners. As practice shows, neither being dubbed "a showcase of the European integration", nor the status of an ally of the United States or even a NATO member, nor association with the EU are in any way a guarantee of the republic's prosperity and development. The obsessive desire to "outsource" the issues of state building can be regarded nothing less than a big mistake. Repeating it now, however, will be very easy. We see that the new leadership is very much counting on international assistance, and not only financial, but also expert. Even earlier foreign advisers were involved in the work of the presidency, and statements have already been made about the intention to expanded this practice. I wonder if it will come to appointing foreign consultants to prominent government positions, including ministerial ones, as was the case in post-Maidan Ukraine. Generally, Moldova is now at a similar starting point as it was ten years ago. Hopefully, previous miscalculations and current events in the world will allow us to draw the right conclusions. First, you should primarily achieve self-reliance. Secondly, the Western model is not an enduring truth and must necessarily be adapted taking into account local realities. Thirdly, it is stupid and counterproductive to get involved in geopolitical adventures that are far from the interests of our tiny republic. After all, if they fail, no one will rescue the local governors. Only neutrality and friendship with all interested countries can be considered the only correct course. It's time to finally start thinking with your own head and abandon living by manuals from foreign capitals, and at the same time to use rationally the resources and preferences that partner states are ready to give us, both from the West and from the East.