OPINION

Listing consciences

Once upon a time — from the 1960s onward in fact — those who claimed that Greece?s security spending (which was nearly on the same level as that of Israel and the United States) was way above the real needs of the country, were accused of being idealist peaceniks, at best, or national traitors, at worst. Overspending did not seem to be an issue back then.

That said, it was not the mammoth cost of procurements that encouraged protesters to insist on their allegations, in spite of the shower of criticism. It was also the conviction, a conviction that was backed by evidence, that army procurements was not the proper response to the existing problems; nor did they solve any of these problems.

It was the double certainty that, on one hand, the purchases were somehow dictated to Greece by its greedy allies and, on the other, that the political officials involved in the purchases would have to be very resistant to corruption.

The contribution of defense procurements in the deficit and debit that threaten to swallow the country has not been established; but it is certainly greater than the cost of the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Because, as the questionable submarine deal indicates (Greece?s financial crimes squad, better known as SDOE, has dubbed the purchase of four German-made submarines by the Greek navy as ?an unprecedented scandal involving the squandering of state money and illegal money transfers?) here?s a scandal that spans across many years and different political parties.

For over a decade, between 1996 and 2006, three ministers (two from the Socialist PASOK party and one from the New Democracy Conservatives) and some one hundred officials worked hard to vindicate the now-infamous remark of Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos, who controversially said that ?we ate (pocketed) the money together.?

Driven by a desire to safeguard the national interest, as it were, these political officials decided to deprive the money from other sensitive sectors like health and education, and to safely store it in foreign banks.

It?s not the submarines that listed. Rather, it?s the conscience of our political leaders. It?s the conscience of the people who played a key role in the scandals, the people who turned a blind eye to them or who concealed them.