Greece must become strategically self-sufficient. Alliances are fine, but even finer, and more effective, is our own force that does not depend on others.
We went through too long a period during which we did not take security matters seriously. We downgraded the machinery of state, hierarchies, the defense industry – whatever, that is, a state needs to function and to be respected by its adversaries. We did it with relish and it was understandable after the maelstrom of the dictatorship. But we overdid it.
Now, fortunately, the pendulum is swinging back where it should be. The threat is far too visible to allow for frivolity. The government has shown that, under the right leadership, the Greek state can become effective, despite its shortcomings. In the same way that the culture of insouciant inaction, partisanship and degradation of management in public enterprises led to dissolution, the culture of professionalism and seriousness embraced by the current government raised the level and awakened a sense of obligation. The message always comes from the top.
The leftist governance also helped dissolve the stereotypes created by the Left and the hyper-populist narrative of the post-dictatorship era about the armed forces and the security forces. The leftist government did nothing extraordinary to solve the accumulated problems in defense. But, starting from the position of “Is all that necessary?” it ended up choosing some serious people who managed difficult situations with a certain professionalism.
On a purely symbolic level, leftist SYRIZA’s alliance with the populist, hard-right defense minister brought back, if excessively, images and symbols that had been banished. Paradoxically, this had a positive effect in reconciling the Left with security. The Left matured, as we all did. And if it chooses to fall back into the immature slogans of the past, it will find it will not be followed by the overwhelming majority of public opinion.
Now, the aim should be our own strategic autonomy. We should stop whining when our partners or allies don’t do the job for us. We have a lot of ground to cover, but we are in the right direction.
The other day I was reading a passage by Henry Kissinger, who may have harmed Greek interests in his time, but whose cynical realism remains instructive: “To be dependent on the continued goodwill of another sovereign state is demoralizing, because it is a confession of impotence, an invitation to the irresponsibility induced by the conviction that events cannot be affected by one’s will.” This, exactly.