Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Winds of war

COMMENT

TAGS: US

They say that history repeats itself as a farce, but at times it may look more like a tragedy. In the past few days, a hard power game is in full swing in the United States concerning Iran.

The danger of hawks dragging US President Donald Trump into a war with Iran is visible. Both National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are maintaining a hard line, pushing for a military confrontation with Tehran.

Similar to what former vice-president Dick Cheney and former secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld did with George W. Bush, Bolton and Pompeo are fighting behind the scenes for their opinion to prevail. Trump has so far shown that he likes pushing things to the extreme, but then stopping just before the cliff-edge. In the case of Iran, however, he seems to be awfully close to the edge and the – not so invisible – hand that is pushing him is strong.

A war with Iran would accelerate geopolitical changes that are already taking place in the region. There is no way that Trump can forge the international alliances achieved by George H.W. Bush in the first Gulf War. He has wasted too much time and energy dismantling the network of relations and alliances on which any such war would be based.

For Europe, such a scenario would be a big test. It could even prove to be the definitive moment that would wean Europe off the US. Some states would surely ally with Trump, but core European countries would keep their distance from any such action.

Such an eventuality would also be a challenge for Greece. It would be very difficult for Athens to participate, even symbolically, in such a war. And it shouldn’t participate, because it is a wrong war with terribly dangerous consequences for everyone.

The Greek government will, however, be faced with dilemmas. Greece is developing its defense relations with the US, providing it with use of Souda Bay in Crete, among other bases and facilities. Would the government give the green light for these bases to be used in operations against Iran? And if not, what would this mean when the time comes to seek something in exchange?

There is also the question of what distancing ourselves from such a war would mean in terms of our deepening strategic relationship with Israel. An obvious solution would be to align ourselves with EU decisions. Or even to follow a flexible policy with many “nos” and a few “yeses,” weighing the national interest each time.

Whatever the case, if Trump is pulled into a war with Iran, the consequences would be very significant for the post-war order and Greece in particular.

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