Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Uncharted waters

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

“Do you remember Koula’s cousin who went to the US to study? Well, his best pal from college is the second cousin of a guy who is best friends with the guy they say will become Trump’s chief of staff.”

While we haven’t reached that level of discourse and pursuit of anyone who might be acquainted with the US president-elect yet, we will get there soon enough, judging from everything we’ve been hearing and reading in the last few days.

The same happened with the Bushes, Clinton and, to a lesser degree, Obama. We, the people working in media, are always desperately in search of Greek personalities, because they attract a lot of attention. Various expatriates have turned “clientelism” into a profession in Washington, causing both laughter and tears.

This would be a rather quaint phenomenon if it didn’t have some serious repercussions. Because the problem becomes major when a country’s leading officials start planning new foreign policy dogmas based on what “Giorgos” or “Costas” said. We are going through a particularly explosive and compact period in terms of security and foreign policy issues. We are entering uncharted waters, as we don’t know what kind of ties the new US government will forge with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other players who concern us.

Erdogan is unpredictable. Europe stands powerless opposite him and there is no “boss” or anyone capable of taking swift decisions. The US will go through a long period of uncertainty until the new administration is established and starts its own decision-making process. It would be foolish, if not dangerous, to make plans and decisions right now.

Many rushed to downgrade President Obama’s visit. Surely it would have a different value if Hillary Clinton had been elected because the continuation would have been a given. Nevertheless, big countries don’t change their foreign policy strategy that clumsily or without questioning. There is a kind of institutional memory and continuity from the moment the new president takes his place in the Oval Office and begins listening to the proposals of the State Department, the Pentagon and the Secret Service. The fact that the outgoing US president chose Athens to deliver a speech securing his legacy should not go unnoticed either. What is also certain is that he will not be a silent former president, as the extrovert and progressive establishment will look to him as a counterweight to Trump.

So, let’s be patient and wait and see who will take the decisions and how matters regarding our country will evolve. It will take months for the dust to settle and for us to have a clearer picture. Until then, it’s best for some people not to come across as playing Stratego, without even reading the game’s instructions.

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