New needs, new roles

One of our favorite pastimes as Greeks is speculating about imminent government shakeups. Most analysts and pundits tend to see any reshuffling of the cabinet as a panacea. However, endless speculation over Costas Karamanlis’s formation of his conservative cabinet has deflected attention from a more substantial matter: Before reshuffling his ministers, the prime minister must first change the structure of the government per se. The existing structure is at fault for generating many of the defects and distortions that have undermined Greece’s international standing the last few years. The government structure of each nation must be designed so as to best suit the particular needs of that country. In the case of 21st century Greece, which does not even have a national security council, the notion of «foreign policy» and, most crucially, of an administrative and political institution responsible for hammering out and implementing that policy has simply become redundant. The traditional structure of our government fails to safeguard the basic parameter that will decide our future – just as it often determined our past: global military relations. National security and foreign policy increasingly overlap. In the wake of the crucial Washington and Prague summits, the NATO alliance has grown into the globe’s main foreign policy organization. The priorities of the alliance have been elevated above the importance of so-called bilateral ties among the NATO members. It is increasingly unlikely for a country with an active role in NATO to be harassed by outsiders. Nevertheless, an active role depends on two preconditions: First, the government must educate the public about what it means to play an active role in the alliance. This will help to decriminalize NATO in the public eye and avoid potential political costs. Second, the government must integrate the different institutions that perform this role – a role that will determine Greece’s status in the nascent global order.

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