OPINION

The war on terror

Speculation of the future ought to be optimistic. This is mandated by the rules of good behavior, of political correctness and, above all, by the needs of the human race which has long been unable to handle reality in its true form. As a consequence, in view of the New Year, Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government ought to be optimistic about the future because, as of January 1, the euro currency will be launched and Greece will become part of the hard central core of the European Union. Of course, the fact that the monetary paradox known as the euro is not supported by a single political unity – contrary to its rival currencies, the US dollar and the yen – is part of a different debate. The government ought to be optimistic as mid-January marks the beginning of another round of talks on the Cyprus dispute. There have been many similar talks in the past, but this time everyone seems to pretend that they could lead to a positive outcome. The fact that there is no sign that Turkey has, even slightly, revised its position on the Cyprus issue is disregarded for reasons related to a policy of «diplomatic optimism» which has tirelessly, though ineffectively, been followed by the mediators of the lengthy dispute. However paradoxical it may sound, the Cyprus issue, the situation in the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations and even the introduction of the euro itself, are subordinate issues, as the dominant issue, at both an international and local level, is terrorism and the way to deal with it, merely because this is the primary policy of the United States of America in the wake of the terrorist assaults of September 11. Fortunately, Simitis will visit Washington as a guest of US President George W. Bush whom he will meet on January 10, and he will therefore have the opportunity from the first days of the new year to understand Washington’s priorities, which can be summed up in one phrase: «The War on Terrorism.» But this «war on terrorism» as Bush sees it, and which he has repeatedly defined, is no chance operation. It is the axis around which US policy will revolve in the coming decades and will give rise to continuous interventions (of various scales of intensity) in countries which supposedly nourish terrorism and, above all, entails a more direct policing in the nations of the integrated (in terms of internal security) Euro-Atlantic zone. For Simitis or any other Greek prime minister, the war on terror means cooperation on a new scale for the disruption of the November 17 terrorist organization. Under the present circumstances, this means the suspension of certain procedures that PASOK governments had invoked for years of refusing to arrest individuals on whom they lacked adequate evidence. The reality of the new year will be completely different from the rhetoric that PASOK has developed for decades of being a self-styled leftist party defending the citizens’ democratic freedoms against a supposedly autocratic right. This is the ideological dilemma for Simitis who, in order to convince the public of his democratic and leftist credentials, has also invoked his militant activity during the dictatorship.