The great shield of Deveselu
Locals in this forgotten village are hoping to take advantage of the opportunity. The mayor, a former Communist apparatchik, was the first to sign up for English classes. He claims to have been pushing for the revival of the military air base ever since it was closed in 2002.
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the deal, sealed in September during a visit by Traian Băsescu, Romania's president, to Washington DC. "I feel betrayed... we were not asked if we want this shield," says [link in Romanian] Valerică Jumugă, a former pilot.
In 2007, when the idea of Romania hosting part of the US anti-ballistic missile shield first came up, the Social Democratic opposition said it would demand a referendum on the issue. It never transpired; had it done so it would have probably passed, as Romanians are among the staunchest pro-Americans [PDF] in Europe. Last week Mircea Geoană, the Social Democratic chairman of Romania's Senate, said that parliament should ratify the missile-shield deal as soon as possible, to reinforce the US-Romanian "strategic partnership."
For Mr Băsescu the deal is a personal victory. Despite some criticism from Russia and Ukraine, the reaction from Romania's neighbours has been nowhere near the level of the Cold War-style outrage sparked by George W. Bush's original missile-defence plan, which involved rockets in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.
If the United States is seeking to intercept rockets from the Middle East, southern Romania and Turkey (where the radar will be stationed) make more geographical sense than Mr Bush's plans did. And happily, neither country shares a border with Russia. (Poland is next to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.)
Still, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, is demanding "written guarantees" that the shield will not be used against Russia. And Ukraine, which stretches between Russia and Romania, has said that it would only be interested in a system that included Russia. It is unhappy that it was not consulted by Romania over the deal.
Nothing has got beyond paper yet. Plans such as this one are notorious for revisions and postponements. No one knows if Deveselu will be flourishing around a US base by 2015. But a few English lessons can't hurt anyone.
The Economist Newspaper Limited 2011