OPINION

Greece in Lebanon?

It has been three weeks since Israeli troops entered Lebanon and the outcome of this offensive is dubious to say the least. The impression that has been created is that this is a war against the civilians and infrastructure of Lebanon. The international community has not forgotten the fact that, following weeks of NATO bombing of Serbian targets in Kosovo in 1999, Yugoslav military forces emerged relatively unscathed. The barbarism of this war is broadcast daily and in witnessing the indescribable trauma being suffered by the Lebanese, the average viewer must acknowledge the absence of any meaningful policy on a global level. All the statements being made by politicians relate to the future, to «what must be done.» And the countries that do not clearly support Israel, unlike the USA and Britain, are unwilling or unable to intervene. Meanwhile the European Union – «the great achievement» of postwar Europe – is sliding into a rut of inactivity. World leaders have been debating the establishment of a peacekeeping force. And Greek politicians have joined this discussion. But successive Greek governments have always sent troops to different parts of the world as a smokescreen for their incapacity to tackle domestic problems. Hence the current declarations about Greece adopting a leading role in this crisis. According to Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis, Greece has 1,200 peacekeepers in Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan, who cost taxpayers 250 million euros a year. Now, Greece is considering sending more troops to Lebanon so it can be regarded as a «major player» in the Middle East. The problem is that this argument can only be applied on the theoretical level. Greece’s role in the region does not depend on military missions. Its deficit is much broader and much more serious.