OPINION

So what if the US gets mad?

I must admit to being surprised at US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent statement regarding the Macedonia name dispute: «It would be a pity if something that has to do with antiquity were to get in the way of what I think is a very important step for Macedonia and NATO.» It was not the reference to antiquity that surprised me, for I have often heard foreigners being sarcastic about it when discussion turns to the Macedonia dispute, and especially Americans, who detest history and adore simple, practical solutions to diplomatic problems, who break out in hives if you ever try to explain something that is more than five or 10 years old. What surprised me was Rice’s complete lack of diplomatic tact. After thinking about it for a while, though, I came to the conclusion that it made sense in a way. Greece could depend on Washington’s support provided at least one of three things were true: 1) Washington considered Greece a close partner; 2) The USA really needed Greece to be on its side or shuddered at the thought of more anti-American sentiment being expressed in the country; and 3) The White House was coming under pressure from a very strong lobby. A sober look at he facts tells us, first of all, that Washington does not feel it has much to gain from Greece. In contrast, it sees Athens playing its own game with Russia and disagreeing with Washington on every open front of international politics. If the dogma «You’re either with us or against us» is anything to go by, then Greece certainly is not a member of the small USA fan club. The Americans do not need Greece for anything and any rise in anti-American sentiment in Greece is dismissed as being rather silly, even inane. As far as the lobby is concerned, unfortunately that disappeared years ago. The present-day American archbishop, a wise and respectable man, bore the brunt of President George W. Bush’s sarcasm in the past when he brought up the name dispute. The lobby no longer exists and it poses a threat to no one. When the Greek government decided to persist in its efforts to link a settlement of the name dispute with FYROM’s NATO bid, some said that Washington would eventually support Greece’s position, but that has not happened. Greece must finally come to terms with the fact that America is not, in cold geopolitical terms, «our friend» in the name dispute. It is, in fact, very likely that at the summit in Bucharest the Greek prime minister will be facing a tough adversary in the US. And this will be when we will all have to reflect upon the other aspect of Greek-American relations, the one in which Greece, a European country with its own interests, has nothing to fear from American displeasure. Just as they don’t need us, so we don’t need to worry about them getting angry.