Umbrella or lightning rod?

It is stunning to see people «parading» on the television and radio and in the press these days, claiming that NATO’s assistance during the Athens Olympics will render Greece more vulnerable to a terrorist strike. These are not the usual left-wing pundits. Fortunately, as far as 90 percent of the population is concerned, such views have no impact whatsoever on official government policy. Rather, it is the various self-styled experts, journalists and commentators who are out to assure us that Islamic terrorists have nothing against our country; they appreciate Greece’s traditionally pro-Arab stance; they will take into consideration the fact that we played no active role in the Iraq war; that they will not want to spread carnage throughout the country. That is, as long as we show prudence and remain calm. As long as we do not become hysterical over terrorism; as long as we do not invite international support for the security of the Games; as long as we do not provoke them. Things are so predictable and reassuring for these experts. As if terrorist attacks are decided by vote in an Arab League plenary session. As if the August Games are a national, not a global event; as if Al Qaeda gave a fig for the damage that Greece would suffer. Apart from being ideologically obsolete and one-dimensional, these views are deeply naive and irresponsible. They derive from the belief than anyone can set himself up as an authority, for he will never be held accountable about the decision on whether NATO is an umbrella or lightning rod. Such «cost-free authority» is reminiscent of the old coffee-house quip, «Just make me prime minister for a day and you’ll see,» or the variation, «I wish you were prime minister, so we could see what you’d do.»

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