Get used to this America

If there was any hope that a second term would lead President George W. Bush to act in a less unilateral way than before, Washington’s surprise recognition of the «Republic of Macedonia» on Thursday, trampling on Greece’s sensitivities, showed clearly that the United States is not going to waste time with diplomatic niceties. The message to Greece and the European Union was clear: Get used to living with this America. There was no doubt that September 11, 2001 would change the United States and the way it acted in the world. Iraq showed that American reaction had developed into unilateral action, irrespective of the opinions of other countries or organizations. This has not led, so far, to the crushing of international terrorism or to peace in the Middle East. Both these problems pre-date Bush’s presidency and it would have been impossible to solve them in a four-year term. The United States may wield unprecedented power but it is not the only country in the world, nor are Bush’s supporters the only Americans. (Americans who disagree with him will have to mobilize, and we may be at the start of a genuine political reawakening in that great democracy.) If the transatlantic friction continues, this will encourage the EU’s efforts to develop greater political and military coherence. Individual countries, like Greece, will have to either align themselves with the United States according to Washington’s needs or cooperate more closely with each other. Through its history, Greece has done well when it coordinated its aims with the interests of greater powers. That is why it is truly fortunate that our country is a member of the EU. The fact that the EU has not quite clarified its aims provides Greece with the opportunity and the responsibility to play a productive role in defining them. George Bush has been re-elected. What are we going to do about it?