Devastating and unexpected pain causes some passing numbness to the sufferer. Our human nature needs some time to swallow the unbearable burden of pain, to gradually digest the irreparable loss, to pick up the pieces of a life which will never be the same again, and to find the courage to tackle the new situation. This, more or less, is the way in which the civilized world reacted to last Tuesday’s unprecedented tragedy. Speechlessly watching people waving their white handkerchiefs in a tragic gesture of ultimate farewell just a few seconds before they were crushed under the rubble of the twin towers, we sense that it’s time we bid an entire era farewell along with the dreams, hopes and certainties that accompanied it, and get used to a new world – a more dark, more uncertain, more violent world. Invisible though the terrorists’ faces may have been, their message was more than clear: No one is safe. The elimination of borders in the era of globalization not only concerns the economy, culture and communications; it also concerns terrorism in its most aggressive and abhorrent form. Neither isolation behind our national borders, nor the fortification of united European security nor the chimera of an anti-missile shield can insure any state, big or small, an enclave of supposed security. The worst thing about terrorism is that it forces democracies to fortify themselves by resorting to the means of its enemies. Fortunately, the world’s strongest democracy does not seem to have succumbed to that dangerous temptation. Wisdom, however, does not mean passivity. The USA will, no doubt, react in an organized and decisive fashion, to the undeclared war which has been unleashed against it. The terrorist attack will act as a catalyst for sweeping changes in the geopolitical equilibrium, not only in the Mideast but worldwide. In this volatile environment, the Greek political elite is called upon to weigh its national interests, its obligations within the alliance, public security concerns and democratic liberties. Its decisions today will determine Greece’s position in the new international world order which will sooner or later emerge from the rubble of the post-Cold War world. The reservations of the European Left are a sign of embarrassment as its leaders are forced to fall in with the decisions of a conservative president – George W. Bush – and strengthen police measures in Western Europe, by-passing some of the democratic sensitivities with which Jospin and Sharping differentiated themselves from their domestic conservative opponents.

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