Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

The most unpredictable factor

COMMENT

TAGS: Diplomacy, Politics

Can anybody trust the United States anymore? It’s getting increasingly difficult. Watching what is happening in Washington these days, it’s hard to know exactly what we’re looking at: a poor imitation of drama series “House of Cards” or a page out of tome by a future Edward Gibbon titled “The History of the Decline and Fall of the American Empire.”

Donald Trump’s election to the presidency had a certain logic. Much of what he says would constitute a necessary correction of American policy. But his tactics have been tragic. The back-pedaling, the paranoid personal style and the complete collapse of decision-making mechanisms have gobbled up a huge chunk of American credibility and influence. And if he is re-elected, this downward course will not be reversible. In the words of a prominent European leader responding to the question of his greatest nightmare while talking to a closed circle of interlocutors: “Trump’s re-election will mean the end of the West as we know it.” Strong words maybe, but we are living in major historical times.

In Greece’s wider neighborhood, there is not a single state that doesn’t feel insecure, that doesn’t feel it is experiencing a political earthquake of unprecedented dimensions. Even Israel feels threatened, because Trump’s handling of foreign policy is creating a very dangerous environment around it. It is seeking a closer relationship with Greece because it now believes that it will need bilateral strategic alliances, beyond that with the US.

The winners in politics are revealed by developments. Russian President Vladimir Putin played his cards right and won. I still remember Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s response when I met him in Damascus and asked if he had any channels of communication open with the US president. “You know, with Putin, I know that I will get the same answer to whatever I ask on Friday and next Monday. Not with Trump.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feels powerful and is uncontrollable for the time being. Beyond this geopolitical landscape, China is increasingly emerging as the most important rising power, unseating the US from its primacy.

No one can say for sure what all this means for us Greeks. There is neither a reliable compass nor a well-designed map to chart a path in this environment. The only sure thing is that a multidimensional foreign policy is absolutely necessary. And that’s why our close relations with China and the “restart” in our relations with Moscow are positive.

However, the problem remains. If something serious happens in the Aegean or the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek prime minister will not know exactly who to call and what the person at the other end of the line will tell him – that is, if he finds him. He might even hear, as has happened in the past, something like: “Erdogan is a good guy, he’s a friend of mine. Sort it out with him...”

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