The enemy in the camp

Reactions to reports of an allegedly pro-junta speech delivered on November 17 by the head of a group of cadets to his colleagues have exposed quite a bit of hypocrisy.

Suddenly, everyone sought to make an issue about the need to protect Greece?s democratic institutions against the threat of extremism.

There is no question that we must all keep a close watch on the fringes of the political spectrum and hold the champions of a far-right or far-left dictatorship at bay.

After all, history demonstrates that across the world, big crises like the one plaguing Europe at the moment can lead to wars, civil conflict and domination by extremist forces.

However, I cannot help but wonder where all that sensitivity was in the not-too-distant past when we needed to safeguard Greece?s post-1974 democracy against the widespread elements of decline and corruption.

I am trying to put myself in the mind of the average cadet who has joined the military after passing the demanding nationwide examination.

The young cadet is likely to know that Greece purchased armored vehicles from Germany at a very high price without, until very recently, having acquired the necessary ammunition. It?s not hard to guess why this happened.

Similarly, the young cadet is likely to have heard how much money was spent on various sorts of ammunition programs that, for some reason, came without some key components.

Widespread graft and impunity in this country have pushed a considerable segment of society to the fringes of the political spectrum — both the left and the right.

Many of the people who now like to pose as friends of the man on the street used to turn a blind eye to such instances of corruption and impunity or, worse, were apologists of the ailing status quo.

But the young cadet has every right to be angry at being paid peanuts for serving as a guard on some isolated island — just like the young protester is angry at being unable to land a job.

Please don?t misunderstand me here. I am not and I will never justify extremist acts or any form of illegal behavior. However, a country?s ruling elite must, before everyone else, show respect for the principles which it demands other people respect.

I am afraid that democracy in this land is threatened by some of its political leaders.