The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

Maria Bucur: “There are also those like Richard Hall”

(purely personal views, as always)

When Professor Maria Bucur (Deckard) of Indiana University wrote the words “there are also those like Richard Hall,” she did not come to praise me.  She knew exactly what she was doing, virtue signalling to other Romanianists the “socially/academically correct” view of how I should be treated.  It is classic “in group/out group” kind of stuff, “othering” by the very people who preach about how they loathe “othering.”

“There are also those like Richard Hall, who contacted me upon learning I was giving a presentation about being in Romania during the 1989 events and provided information he considered necessary for me to read ahead of time”


Click to access 1_maria_bucur.pdf

I have attempted to tell Professor Bucur and share on this page, why I felt it necessary to reach out to her.  I did not realize at the time that she was definitely writing an autobiographical account in this essay.  I did so, because I have been shocked at the shallowness and laziness of her previous coverage of December 1989.  On the one hand, it is understandable, as it is not a subject that she has devoted much time to, researched or written on.  On the other hand, it smacks of the emigre who “lived” the event, knows the language and culture, and thus feels empowered to write about anything and everything involving the homeland.

I won’t belabor the point too much here, because I have discussed parts of this before.  Granted I was still talking a blue streak, during what I could charitably call my “Helter-Skelter” phase of research and writing on December 1989 (my early post field work dissertation stage), so I can only be so critical, but I remember in 1995 hearing from both Bucur and Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu who told me to read Cornel Ivanciuc in the political-intellectual weekly, 22.  I already suspected Ivanciuc of having Securitate ties because of the content of what he wrote (and expressed my suspicions in my dissertation and early articles).  A decade later, Ivanciuc’s collaboration with the former Securitate became public.  Bucur and Tismaneanu were blind and clueless, in large part because of their romanticization of fellow Romanian intellectuals and their media outlets:  they were so talented and had such good, noble values and were such nice people who they knew personally (a critical element), and neither those intellectuals nor they themselves could fall for Securitate disinformation.

Later I commented to Bucur about her comments in a video on December 1989 in which she suggested that nobody knew, perhaps the Securitate were involved in disrupting Ceausescu’s famous speech on 21 December.  Next I read her discussions of the 21st, where she quoted from an article interviewing a former Securitate officer about those events that appeared in Dan “Felix” Voiculescu’s Jurnalul National.  I was aghast again at the lack of scrutiny or attention to sources, the seeming ad hoc careless way, she backed up her contentions on December 1989.  And in every case, she appears to have assimilated unknowingly the revisionist myths and narratives of the former Securitate.

This is all the more galling and ironic, because thanks to an indiscretion by Professor Tismaneanu, who rather than answer my question about an apparent contradiction in his publicly stated views on a December 1989 matter, immediately attempted to smear me on social media, by declaring that I got a negative peer review for my 1999 East European Politics and Societies‘ article.  Years had gone by without me ever suspecting, but I had always thought it odd that I only received one peer review of my article and not the standard two.  Given the profile of the academic who wrote the positive one, and the age and career profile at the time of Maria Bucur, I strongly suspect she was that negative review.  What is ironic and fitting is that the very reason she continues to make such basic, egregious mistakes when speaking or writing about December 1989, is precisely because she did not accept–I would argue could not accept–the arguments that were at the heart of my EEPS article, that Securitate revisionism on December 1989 had long ago infiltrated and come to shape even the most anti-Iliescu, anti-communist, liberal, pro-West, intellectual elements of Romanian society and media–in other words, all the people those like Bucur and Tismaneanu were friends with and held in high esteem.

(Professor Tismaneanu’s indiscretion has inevitably also made me review some of Bucur’s actions since the EEPS article appeared in November 1999.  I cannot know for sure, but I now look differently on certain of what seemed relatively benign actions at the time.  A month later, on the 10th anniversary of the events, Maria Bucur published an over-the-top, glowing review on the Hapsburg Website of an indeed decent article on December 1989 by Harsanyi–strange even then, because she had never weighed in on December 1989 before to my knowledge.  In early 2005, when I sent my article “The Romanian Revolution as Geopolitical Parlor Game” article around to Romanianists she responded by asking me if she could share it with her graduate students.  Of course, I said gladly:  sure.  (I did not believe it was my business to ask why…if someone finds or has access to something in the public domain, I shouldn’t say:  no, you can’t use it!)  Only I was later to be told by another Romanianist that it got back to him that she had indeed used an article he wrote to trash his research in front of her students.  I know wonder if Professor Bucur’s request to use my article–which surprised me at the time–followed this tactic.  I am more than tired of what seems a well-honed skill among some Romanian emigre scholars to play a double game that they do not assume:  trying to appear virtuous in front of the crowd of American academics, but playing vicious out of the public light, in part to maintain their carefully crafted public reputations.  Based on Professor Tismaneanu’s indiscretion and what I have detailed above, I suspect that Professor Bucur was very upset that her negative review of my EEPS article did not rule the day.)

Here is a link to the EEPS article, and below it, what should make even those like Maria Bucur reconsider their views on December 1989 and its historiography, and most importantly read the 1999 EEPS article with new eyes.

The Uses of Absurdity

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ROMANIA:  CIA National Intelligence Daily 28 December 1989 (declassified from Top Secret and Released to the public on 10 December 2019,

Romania:  New Regime Consolidating Security

The government continues to make limited progress in eliminating the threat from Securitate diehards, but Romanians are increasingly skeptical of Communist dominance of the new government.

On Tuesday [26 December 1989], the new government put internal security forces and border guards under the Defense Ministry and set a new deadline for the Securitate troops to surrender.  The government is also calling on civilians to turn in all arms issued to defeat Nicolae Ceausescu.  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Information not declassified for protection of sources and methods xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx nearly half of an estimated 200 Securitate members in Timisoara were dead, captured, or had escaped.  xxxx Classification not declassified xxxx


What can we learn from this?  For one thing, there is nothing here, absolutely nothing, to substantiate the claims of the military prosecutors in the Indictment of April 2019 in the so-called Dosarul Revolutiei, according to which Ion Iliescu, Gelu Voican Voiculescu, Iosif Rus, Nicolae Militaru and other military commanders are accused of having “invented” a terrorist diversion with non-existent terrorists in order to seize and legitimate their power, especially by intentionally disseminating disinformation through television.  Nor is there anything here about Generals Stanculescu, Guse, and others with blood on their hands for their role in repressing demonstrators in Timisoara giving contradictory orders and “inventing” terrorists in order to create a heroic image for the military and buy themselves immunity for their actions in Timisoara.  Nor is there anything here about everything just being about confusion, and suspicion, and mass psychosis, and accidental “friendly fire” being the dominant condition.  Nor is there anything here about the Army’s DIA (Buzau 404) or “Soviet tourists” (KGB, GRU, Spetnaz), etc. or others as being the actual terrorists engaged in a false flag operation to incriminate the Securitate.  Nor as a journalist in Romania suggested was the use of the term “Securitate diehards” inspired by the 1988 Bruce Willis film “Diehard” or was CIA “prisoners of information supplied by the [National Salvation] Front …that is why two lines are excised in the section above, precisely because of the highly sensitive level of how the information was acquired.  Finally, it should be clear, especially if one reads the entire document, that the analyst[s] who wrote this crisis piece, had no illusions about Iliescu and the Front (they saw that they were high level former communists who were already being decried by people in the streets) or that ‘free flowing arms’–arms distributed or seized by the population during the events–were a fact.  But these were facts, alongside the fact that there were Securitate terrorists fighting on behalf of Ceausescu, something which they knew from sources other than just international media or “The Front.”

Significantly, the CIA NID from 28 December 1989 is consistent with what National Security Council (NSC) Director for European Affairs Robert Hutchings maintained in 1997: “It was an argument that had a few adherents at staff level during those chaotic days, during which a successful counterrevolution by Ceausescu loyalists seemed a real danger110. …With Moscow as with others [“Bonn, London, Paris, and other capitals”], there was a broadly shared desire to see Ceausescu loyalists defeated, the bloodshed ended, and the democratic ‘spirit of Timisoara’ vindicated.”



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