NEWS

Extreme displays of anti-Americanism can only harm us, says Rallis

Based on all of the above, one wonders whether the current revival of anti-Americanism in Greece has any ideological foundation, or whether it is simply because of the USA’s arbitrary and illegal operation in Iraq? I have always believed – and still do – that anti-Americanism, either as an ideological foundation or a political tactic, is an unfounded and rather prejudiced reactionary stance on the part of those who use to achieve their ideological-political goals by influencing – or whipping up fanaticism among – broad sections of the people against a nation which in recent years has moved ahead in all sectors of human activity and in all historic developments on our planet. Here, it seems to be a general phenomenon. Is it simply a question of calm and moderation? That ancient saying «everything in moderation,» which is so useful these days, is a deterrent to our propensity for hyperbole, not to say madness. In this case, we were right to hold two major demonstrations and marches, but we can’t do that every day. It is not up to us, we cannot impose our will. Even Germany and Belgium withdrew their veto in NATO over Turkey. In our country there are politicians and other public figures who wanted the Greek government to ban the Americans from flying over Greek territory, to close the Souda Bay base and to suspend all bilateral agreements. Who do we think we are? This war is wrong, and we have said so outright. But we can’t change anything. Even (ND leader Costas) Karamanlis’s statement in Olympia a few days ago, that «this war must stop immediately» did not seem very serious to me. What did he mean «stop immediately?» Because you and (Communist Party leader Aleka) Papariga want it to? What we have to do is to achieve two things after the war is over: The first is to be part of the reconstruction of Iraq. There are Greek firms that could benefit a great deal. Secondly, we should not leave ourselves out of the process of forming a hard core of European nations in the sector of foreign policy. The question is whether this strong anti-Americanism harms the national interests referred to by the government and the main opposition as forming Greece’s official stance. Look, the American people hear more, and are bothered more, by outbursts of extreme anti-Americanism. They know less, or take less notice of, the balanced stand taken by the government and main opposition. That, of course, harms us, because our participation in postwar developments and the reconstruction effort in Iraq will not come about automatically. It will be up against hard competition. That is why we do not have the luxury of presenting a divided and contradictory front to the world, particularly in times of such fluidity as the present. So how can this anti-Americanism, which you see as harmful, be restrained? It is lucky that, for the first time ever, the government and main opposition have agreed on a crucial foreign policy issue, such as the war in Iraq. At the same time however, the two major parties, particularly PASOK because of the burden of past relations between Greece and the West, have a duty to convince the Greek people of the need for calm, consensus and a sense of responsibility needed under the current critical circumstances.