“How will you guarantee our security?” This is the first question that just about every Greek politician (and others) asks any senior foreign official of a major ally who visits the country. The question is naturally met with bewilderment. In today’s world there are no protectorates or guardians as was the case in the 19th century. What there is is alliances and political unions.
Greeks tend to look upon the big powers in contradictory terms. One side of us wants to see the country as a David that is locked in an eternal battle against some Goliath. The part of Goliath is played by Turkey, the United States or Germany, depending on the timing. Another side of us, however, suffers from an inferiority complex. It is in awe of the big powers and their envoys. It expects them to provide protection and eternal guarantees for our country’s security. This side of us places hope in them, overestimates them, and gets disappointed when its expectations are not met.
We live at a time that warrants great caution. There are hardly any constants. The United States may guarantee the security of Israel or South Korea. But even these countries are starting to have doubts about what they can expect from the Trump administration.
Overall, the West is sending out some very alarming signals about the weight of its promises – a thing that recently became abruptly evident to North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the Kurds in Syria.
It’s time that we grew up as a people.
As bad as anti-Americanism is, the notion that the United States will come to the rescue if something goes wrong with Turkey is also dangerous. Moreover, as sick as the obsession against Israel was, it is equally wrong to assume that it will fight “our war” if necessary.
We must obviously forge our alliances in a systematic manner. We must make the most of our cooperation with allies in the field of defense and security, of the American presence in sensitive regions, and of the collection of intelligence. At the same time, we should never give up the multifaceted foreign policy dogma adopted by the late Greek statesman Constantine Karamanlis, which was based on the principle that Greece should never rely on a single global pillar.
Giving the impression that we need to depend on a guardian for our protection is not good for us. It is a sign of weakness and geopolitical misery.