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Geopolitical delusions

By Alexis Papachelas

We seem oblivious to the major changes going on in the world around us. One of these is the gradual disengagement of the United States from the broader regions of Europe and the Middle East. The US is settling its accounts with Syria and Iran, and seems determined to focus is energies on Asia, a top military priority.

Europe became accustomed to living under the US umbrella after World War II and is bound to feel the void now. Greece benefited from acting as though it were anti-American while hoping that if a conflict ever arose in the Aegean Sea or Cyprus, the US would step in, at least to calm things down. Meanwhile, no new “boss”– in the geopolitical sense of the word – has emerged in the region. Russia’s Vladimir Putin has earned marks and gained some prestige recently, but appears inconsistent. Turkey is making some rather erratic moves, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming increasingly unpredictable and arrogant. Greece needs to keep a close eye on Erdogan’s attitude, especially in light of the problems that the country is facing right now.

And because we play at the game of geopolitics superficially, much like traditional cafe patrons play with their worry-beads, there are those who are developing their own theories regarding the alliances Greece should forge. Some would like to see the country turn into Europe’s Puerto Rico and rely solely on the US. Of course no one has asked Washington if it is interested in playing that role. Others suggest looking toward Russia. Has anyone asked the Russians? Has anyone seen any real help coming from Moscow that the rest of us failed to notice?

The country must look to where its interests lie instead of at imaginary scenarios and shallow analyses that serve no purpose. Who actually helped Greece during the crisis? Let me tell you, in my humble opinion, who let us down and who helped. The French have been a disappointment. Although traditionally our allies, they exhausted their support in words while exerting pressure on us to buy fighter jets we couldn’t afford. The ones who did contribute, in a pivotal way, were they Chinese. They invested in Greece during Costas Karamanlis’s premiership, bought 6 billion euros’ worth of bonds during George Papandreou’s government and finally put pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she flirted with the idea of throwing us out of the eurozone.

The pressure Greece is under compels us to think about our geopolitical alliances and other possible routes. But these are not decisions that should be dictated by passion. It is hard facts that we need, because it’s easy to take a lethal, geopolitical plunge and find yourself helpless in a void.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday December 8, 2013 (14:17)  
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