King Arthur, Blinken, Lancelot and Perceval

King Arthur, Blinken, Lancelot and Perceval

There is something indeed noble about being a knight. Not just any knight but King Arthur himself. You are the head of a formidable state, protected by the high walls of the unbreakable Camelot. You are the leader of a political and military entity with profound soft power and an unprecedented moral capacity that can do more good than bad in your era. You also have your brave companions, allies in modern terms. You choose to exercise your power through the implementation of a primus inter pares approach, offering them the option of being active parts of the collective effort to preserve the principles of Camelot against existing or potential enemies.

In a few days, the head of the US State Department, Antony Blinken, will pay an official visit to Greece. Greek-American relations have been enduring since the early days of the Cold War, if not even before. The United States was always present by the side of Greece whenever needed, while the large and influential Greek-American community was one of the strongest pillars of the Western Great Power. In addition, Greece is the NATO bastion in the Eastern Mediterranean, contributing to the presence of the free world in the region. As an IR academic and a neo-realist, I am fully aware that there are no friends or foes in international politics, only momentums or actors willing to share the burden of survival in the perpetually volatile international environment.

Nevertheless, if, in a parallel universe, two allies had the luxury of exchanging sincere vows of admiration, these would be Greece and the United States. Blinken is coming to Athens to endorse the message that Washington gives great importance to the role of Greece as a pillar of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, as the ex-US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt loved to repeat at every given opportunity. But also to show his appreciation for the bold and firm Greek attitude towards Kyiv since the first hours after the Russian invasion a year ago. In addition, Blinken will also discuss the current condition of Greek-Turkish relations. It is evident that despite the continuous Turkish provocations against the US, in particular, and NATO in general, Washington has decided that it is of paramount importance to keep Ankara inside the alliance.

The American side is quite optimistic that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s electoral defeat in the coming presidential elections in Turkey will move the state away from Russia’s embrace and it will return to the arms of NATO as a benevolent prodigal son. I am afraid that Washington disregards, for the benefit of maintaining the existing NATO status quo, that Turkish aggression is not a political choice of the Turkish president but the outcome of enduring revisionism as an instinctive reaction to the loss of its imperial ontology. Once again, Athens will be asked to be the adult in the room when the other is not just a child prone to tantrums but a bull that takes immense pleasure from ruining everything around it.

There is something genuinely gallant about being King Arthur. Yet, if you continue to believe that Lancelot will stop flirting with Guinevere for the sake of Camelot’s unity, your judgment is blurred by your wish to keep the big picture as it was in the past. If Lancelot and Guinevere continue their deceitful acts against you with no consequences for their deeds, Perceval will eventually begin to feel unappreciated. If someone tries to understand the connection between the US-Greek-Turkish triangle and Camelot, please forgive these incoherent lines. However, please also remember that Perceval stands by King Arthur’s side by choice instead of lack of options, as perhaps Lancelot or some advisers at Camelot advocate.

Spyros N. Litsas is professor of international relations theory at the University of Macedonia.

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