Who wins matters

As Kathimerini was going to press, the the outcome of Super Tuesday primary voting in the USA was still unknown. But there’s no doubt that whoever moves into the White House in January next year will be better than the incumbent president. But why should Greece be interested in who prevailed yesterday or who will win in November? The truth is that Washington’s role in Greece is extremely limited these days. The time when US Ambassador to Athens John E. Peurifoy entered the ministries, cigar in mouth, to tell Greece’s ministers what to do is history. Even in terms of military equipment, the USA’s share has diminished. The average Greek is more interested in what the European agriculture commissioner has to say on cotton than the comments of an American official on any issue. On the other hand, the identity of the person sitting in the Oval Office is crucial in times of crisis, when foreign policy and security issues are at stake. For example, a «friendly recommendation» by Condoleezza Rice on an issue like the FYROM name dispute is still possible. In the event of a standoff over the Aegean, the Americans can provide precious information or even compromise the defense system of one or both sides. As former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously said, when a prime minister faces a foreign policy crisis, there is always someone to call in Washington. But if he chooses to call Brussels, a response will take many meetings – if there’s any answer at all. In any case, it’s important for a government to have people who can pick up the phone and talk to the US president when necessary. This is a Greek-centered take on the US elections but from a different point of view, America continues to play a crucial role in international politcs and the global economy so who is in the White House could be very important.