There’s a lot to ponder in this open letter to Barack Obama from Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, et al., but I’ll stick to this part:
We have to cherish and protect the multitude of educational, professional, and other networks and friendships that underpin our friendship and alliance. The U.S. visa regime remains an obstacle in this regard. It is absurd that Poland and Romania — arguably the two biggest and most pro-American states in the CEE region, which are making substantial contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan — have not yet been brought into the visa waiver program.
I’ve seen variations on this theme many times over the years: the U.S. government should do something for such and such country because that country’s government contributed troops to some U.S.-led war. I sometimes agree with the policy change suggested, as in this instance. It’s absolutely ridiculous that my Romanian mother-in-law was recently denied a non-immigrant visa on a whim from a sour embassy employee. (An immigration official here in the U.S. even told my sister-in-law that the visa should have been granted.)
But of all the reasons this or any other policy should change, the fact that Romania’s handout-hungry leaders assisted in a war of aggression (when less than half of Romanians supported it) should not count for much â€“ to libertarians, at least.