OPINION

Corruption

…As the government has once again proved unable to take any concrete measures, PASOK’s various communication experts have indulged in rumormongering about destabilizing power centers currently planning a new attack on the institutions, that will this time also turn against Socialist politicians and ministers. The main question, however, does not just concern possible machinations by any centers and individuals who will not hesitate to undermine the political system in order to serve their interests. Rather, it concerns whether those party leaders who were not accused of corruption will also act with determination against political figures who were entangled with businesses, and who now must pay the price of their actions. The essence is that there is a crucial need to fight the currently poor climate, not just for the good of the citizens who have anyway formed their own opinion – a negative one – of the country’s political system (notably, all opinion polls show that Greeks have more confidence in the Church and the armed forces than the politicians). Fighting corruption should be, above all, the concern of the politicians who have been in power over the previous decades and whose behavior has deprived them of all credibility… Of course, for the Europeans, the disagreement is nothing but a return to the good old pre-September 11 days. That was when we could all express healthy outrage at President Bush’s decision to walk away from the Kyoto Agreement on limiting greenhouse gases, when America continued to oppose the establishment of a permanent court for war crimes, when it cared nothing about ratifying a ban on land mines, when it executed its own and others’ citizens. America, having shown that it can win wars on its own, is accused once again of doing what it wants, justifying itself to no one and demanding what it wants of its friends and enemies. Bush has done little to alleviate this. In his talk of capturing Osama bin Laden «dead or alive,» he conjures up a cowboy culture that might alienate other nations. His declarations that whoever is not with America is «with the terrorists,» and the «axis of evil» that he has devised to lump together the disparate states of Iran, Iraq and North Korea might be great for steeling Americans’ resolve, but they also raise fears elsewhere that Washington may rush in where angels fear to tread, upsetting delicate balances and causing a backlash that may lead to further trouble. French officials, for example, have been growing increasingly critical of what their foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, on Wednesday called America’s «simplistic approach that reduces all the problems in the world to the struggle against terrorism.» This came a week after Bush presented his budget, in which he cut some social programs and introduced a deficit in order to provide more funds for security at home and abroad. The greatest criticism will, no doubt, come from Americans themselves if they judge that Bush’s budget and policies have damaged the economy more than they have benefited the country’s security. That is their call. What affects the rest of us, though, is what effect America’s actions have on the world.