OPINION

Looking out for national security

Yesterday’s announcement by the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) that it will not buy 10 more US F-16 fighter aircraft provides an opportunity for a political debate on a serious issue. This is especially timely given the prevalent rumors of an imminent decision to buy a few more dozen fighter aircraft, once again based mainly on political criteria instead of military ones. The Greek people have suffered through the process of weapons purchases as a way of exercising very expensive and extremely ineffective «foreign policy.» Enormous sums have been spent in the recent past on poorly equipped fighter aircraft which were operationally inadequate, on missiles that were incompatible with existing systems, on armored tanks that were useless about the operational needs of the Greek army, and so on. Even if one ignores the powerful, self-seeking, parasitic interests bent on lining their own pockets – who often influence the particular choice of weapons purchase – the country’s defense is harmed even by the most sincere diplomatic intentions when these affect the military criteria for choosing armaments. The sole criterion should be the purchase of systems that not only are from among the most advanced that Greece can afford but which also meet the country’s defense needs in the best possible manner. Expenditure on arms is a great burden on the Greek economy and deprive it of considerable resources. The least Greeks can expect of this sacrifice is that governments definitively end suspicions that, for political or diplomatic reasons, the weapons being purchased are of the lowest operational value. We all know that pressure on governments from major foreign powers is at its height in this particular sector. However, we also expect the Greek government to resist such pressure and to serve the country’s defense interests in the best possible way.