Facts and pipedreams

Greece faces a geopolitical conundrum: Even if it wanted to make a move on the regional chessboard, it would find very limited room for manuever.

There was a time when Greece could flirt with the eastern bloc or play the French card against the Americans like the late Constantine Karamanlis did with Charles de Gaulle. More recently even, the country could side with Paris against Berlin inside the EU.

All that is pretty much over. France appears weak. It’s not just President Francois Hollande who is to blame for this but, more importantly, the country’s financial troubles. Meanwhile, Washington has all but withdrawn from the region. Its only concern is that Greece remains stable and that it does not slide into a disorderly default that could jeopardize the US or global economy.

Various pundits like to theorize about how Washington uses the IMF like a Trojan horse to manipulate Europe. Others have supported the idea of a Greek-American alliance against Germany. Wishful thinking.

The US helped Greece at a crucial time in 2012 when it convinced German Chancellor Angela that a Grexit at that time would entail devastating consequences. Sure, there are disagreements on economic policy and tension over the phone-tapping scandal. However, no one in Washington is really interested in a game of Stratego that would pit Athens against Berlin. And then there are those who envisaged a grand strategic alliance with China against Germany. Chinese officials are interested in Greece as an investment opportunity as far as the country remains in the eurozone and is stable. Finally, there are the champions of the Russian scenario which has, for obvious reasons, lost support following the crisis in Ukraine and Russia’s own economic woes.

In other words, the chessboard is laid out and there is no escape from it. This is why we always end up with those “Med alliances” and “protest movements” and talk about “the peoples of Europe.” Meanwhile, no southern European government wants to appear standing beside Greece after it was labelled a “special case.”

Put differently, we need to find our own way. We need a good dose of self-confidence and a good plan. But we also need to keep mind of the facts. If we fall off the cliff because of a mishap or because we were chosen as an example to be avoided, our isolation would be devastating. We feel humiliated because our economic dependence has eroded the country’s sovereignty. It is our obligation to rebuild the country and its institutions, to get rid of the old guard, turn the page and reduce our dependence. Europe may not offer the security that Karamanlis had once hoped. But there is no one else out there who can foot the bill or provide security.