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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

mediawatch

Undivided Loyalty

The (Strangely Misnamed) Greek Lobby’s Unceasing Attempt to Make Greece the Fifty-Fourth State




…“America for the Americans!” Yet your analysts already describe Israel as the fifty-first state, Taiwan the fifty-second and Turkey, 67-million strong, as the fifty-third, without Midwest complaint. A marketing campaign will soon persuade the nervous: Infinite Justice, New Frontier, America on the March, Unending Adventure, Happiness Unbounded! We will co-finance it. Reassure your patriots and militias that the demographic doubling, the influx of fresh money, the extension of Americanness, like that of Romanness in its day, will double the glory of your country and its protective power. Remind them of the gain in strategic depth — your enemies pushed outside a reassuring cordon of buffer states.

There is a reciprocal concession: the right to run for the highest office. You may be alarmed that your great-grandchildren will elect a president born in Mexico, Denmark or France. But the Emperor Trajan, who extended the imperial frontiers of Rome to the Persian Gulf, was Spanish; Septimus Severus, who spoke Punic and Syriac, a Tunisian; and Diocletian a mere Dalmatian, or Croat. Rome was not always in Rome. More than once under those great itinerants, the Antonines, staff and records followed the Number One. Marcus Aurelius ran the empire from the Rhine or the Danube. Constantine moved his capital to the Bosphorus, an offcentre waste land — a brilliant displacement, which did away with the idea of encircling. The shift was to give the first multicultural society a thousand years of supplementary life. Some day, perhaps, the United States of the West will have its capital in Ankara, Honolulu or Messina…But let’s not get ahead of the music. For the next century, we Europeans can formally guarantee that Washington will remain on the Potomac.
— Xavier de C*** (aka Régis Debray), “Letter from America,” translated by John Howe, New Left Review, 19, January/February 2003

The fighting in the Greek Civil War ended in August 1949, but the country’s division — and the attendant systemic violence against the defeated — continued until a quarter of a century later when the military dictatorship of the time imploded in July 1974. At both historical bookends, we find the United States. The Truman Doctrine, of course, rationalized US intervention in Greece and stood, more or less, as the official declaration of the Cold War (which turned hot more often than not, as in the Greek case). Decades later, the US’s unspoken but incontestable ratification of the Greek junta’s coup against Makarios (in another stellar example of American exceptionalism, ours was the only government in the world to extend de facto recognition to Nicos Sampson and his hitmen) was the dénouement of an era in which Greeks and Cypriots might have voted, peacefully assembled, petitioned their governments for redress of grievances, and attempted in every other way (when they had the chance) to assert their democratic rights, but to no avail or purpose, since Athens and Nicosia were forced to march to the tune of a different drummer, wearing American insignia .

Nevertheless, after 1974 — and Constantine Karamanlis — Greeks said goodbye to all that and reconciled. (There was even a brief and historic government that united right and left in 1989.) Greek Americans, however — or, at least, their self-anointed “leaders” — have never let go, or moved on. Indeed, they continue to act as agents of American hegemony, wide-eyed and willing water-carriers for whatever task their Effendi asks of them. As a result, naturally, the “official” leadership of the Greek American community (such as it is) and its “institutions” (such as they are) have not only done an enormous disservice to Greece; they have, in fact, undermined the country’s attempts to steer a genuinely independent foreign policy based thoroughly and unreservedly on Greek interests, as opposed to those of the United States (or of any other country). The run-up to the US war against Iraq has confirmed — more starkly than at any time since 1974 — the bankruptcy of the so-called Greek lobby, as well as its pernicious influence on various Greek governments, both of the left and the right.

What we all owe to Constantine Karamanlis
Following his convincing victory in the first post-junta elections in 1974, Constantine Karamanlis embarked upon what he saw — with extraordinary vision — to be the most important structural, indeed constitutional, change of the Greek polity and society: accession to the then-European Economic Community (or, more precisely, “Communities”). Although Karamanlis had legalized the communist party after the fall of the junta and, immediately after his election, brilliantly oversaw the referendum that finally abolished the monarchy and established the (third and final) Greek republic, he genuinely believed that no internal reform of the polity would be as critical to Greece’s future — or as fundamental in guaranteeing the permanency and continuing maturity and expansion of its democracy — as membership in what he knew (perhaps instinctively, perhaps because of his francophilia, perhaps because he wisely and deeply understood the inevitable nature of political integration) would prove to be the European Union.

When he famously formulated his definition of Greek identity, Anêkomen eis tên Dysên, Karamanlis recognized — that’s why he did it, in fact — that he was not so much explaining the obvious as challenging the complacent. There is nothing more absurd than seeing Karamanlis as a conventionally “conservative” politician; he was, in fact, the most radical political (and intellectual) force in Greece at the time, especially in regard to what he saw as the sweeping constitutional realignments that were necessary if the country was finally going to put paid to its terrible history of internecine strife and — both cause and effect of the former — foreign dependency. His right-wing critics — who originally welcomed him back to Greece thinking that he would resurrect the fetid corpse of the pre-junta right’s “good old days” — were not far off the mark when they ended up denouncing him as “Karamanlenin.”

In the event, being famously exact — and sharp — with his words, Karamanlis’s assertion that “We belong to the West” was precise. He did not say that Greece belonged to the “Atlantic alliance,” and even less to NATO. He also did not align Greece with the United States; he pointedly did not refer to the “unique” relationship that had been the rhetorical stock-in-trade of the Greek right from the moment it gave itself — and the country — over completely to the US. No, Greece belonged to “the West,” Karamanlis affirmed, and, since he had spent the previous decade-plus in France (having left Greece long before the coup of April 21, 1967), one had to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to realize what Karamanlis meant by “the West.”

Not to mention that, after the invasion of Cyprus, Karamanlis understood in the cruelest way that the “unique relationship” was worth less than nothing. Adding insult to injury, the US’s continuing “tilt” (or, more accurately, “collapse”) toward Turkey made two facts abundantly clear to him. First, Greece could not afford to alienate the United States — at least not at that time. And, second, Greece could never, ever, depend on the United States for anything so long as the objects of US geopolitical desire in the region engendered and maintained competing claims to its fidelity and, therefore, commitment(s).

Karamanlis thus saw that the only realistic strategy for sovereign Greek political and social development lay in Europe: the only definition of “the West” that not only made sense to him, but was practicable, and genuinely resonated in a statesman who had truly always been culturally more European than Atlanticist. (Andreas Papandreou, ironically, might have been rhetorically anti-American, but he was also by far, both culturally and politically, the most American and Americanizing politician in Greek history.) In any case, Karamanlis’s notion of sovereignty confirmed his European predilections and principles. Like most latter-twentieth-century Europeans, Karamanlis understood that the absolutist, hermetic, and almost mystical “national sovereignty” of which Andreas Papandreou railed on endlessly (and demagogically) was not only specious but even self-destructive: it was in truth a purely American concept. Which is why, not at all coincidentally, Papandreou was so opposed to the EEC — until, of course, he took office and then milked the organization to a fare-thee-well.

“National sovereignty” has always been the problem in European eyes in any attempt to progress beyond national government to transnational forms of governance and administration, precisely because the brutal and sanguinary history of Europe until 1945 (and beyond, in Bosnia and Kosovo and Macedonia and Cyprus) is the history of competing (and often sociopathic) sovereignties. As far as his country was concerned, Karamanlis knew from his own life what the cost of sovereignty was; he had, after all, been born in (and into) Ottoman Macedonia. At the time of Greek accession to the EEC, in other words, he had lived through both Balkan Wars, the First World War, the Greek-Turkish War (which Turkey refers to as its War of Independence), the Asia Minor Disaster, the Second World War, several coups, two particularly harsh dictatorships, the Civil War, and the invasion and occupation of Cyprus: national sovereignty can indeed be a pitiless tyrant.

While it is pointless to speculate, one cannot help but think that, despite his reputation as an unbending (Greek nationalist) Macedonian, Karamanlis might have occasionally considered the multiethnic felicities of Ottoman imperialism, especially in the last decades of his life. The problem, of course, was the imperialism: it always is. The solution was palpable: ensuring self-determination among nations without condemning them to political, socioeconomic, and cultural impositions about which they not only had no say but which ended up as afflictions of the worst kind. Said differently, the point was — is — to move from a community of nations to a nation of communities.

A European nation? Not in Karamanlis’s lifetime, and certainly not in our own. We are, however, on the verge of a federation of national communities in Europe, and the next generation of Europeans will be born into a nexus of transnational integration so tight — and, in many respects, so seamless — that it will in fact be unrecognizable from the divided continent that devastated itself and the world in 1914 and, even more so, in 1939. As such, it will be a radically different Europe from the one that Karamanlis’s fellow Greek (Ottoman) Macedonians hoped to join at the time of his birth. It is not hyperbole to add that both Greeks and their fellow “southeastern Europeans” (to use the currently fashionable, if historically evasive, phrase) — who view integration into Europe as the singular paradigm for their respective (trans)national futures — owe a historical debt to Constantine Karamanlis for his vision of a Balkans that was truly an integral part of and to Europe and not an odious and primitive, and feared and despised, quasi-European extension of it.

The Atlantic is still an ocean
Following the debacle at the Security Council regarding the US war against Iraq, and the wider cleavage it’s provoked between the United States and Europe, one would have to be criminally obtuse to believe that Greece has anything left to gain from a foreign policy that perpetuates Cold War models (and realities) in its relations with the United States. That kind of criminal obtuseness (or, in this case, pure and well-considered self-interest) is precisely what the Greek lobby is guilty of, however, as it willfully insists on continuing to hold Greece’s future hostage to American fortunes. In the almost 30 years since the forced division of Cyprus — in which US policy has been complicit either through commission or omission — the Greek lobby has based its fraudulent existence on two “promises”: to resolve the Cyprus issue and to enhance Greek security against the threat from Turkey. It has not only failed spectacularly on both counts, but has mendaciously taken credit for whatever Greece has accomplished in either case through its own efforts, persistence, and courage.

There is not much to say about Cyprus that is not obvious. The end is nigh, and it will be positive, and it is all due to the Greek government’s own initiatives, working with the republic of Cyprus through the EU and UN, and lately joined by Turkey’s new government. While the latter has proven to be hesitant, desultory, contradictory, and even craven in its approach to the Last Actually Existing Ottoman Pashalik (and its vali, Rauf Pasha), it is clear that the Turkish road to European accession leads through northern Cyprus, and that Turkey will take it. In the event, the silence of the United States in this entire process would have been deafening were it not for the conspicuous and loud objections expressed by the US — always on Turkey’s behalf — in the many years that got us from Henry Kissinger’s elective affinities with Nicos Sampson to today.

Which brings us to the scam that makes three-card monte look like the height of Gandhian probity: the 7:10 ratio. It is difficult to imagine, from any standpoint, a more pernicious or more perversely designed policy for Greek security — or rather, insecurity. Looking at it objectively, in fact, one is tempted to assume that it was thought up by Greece’s most insidious enemies. What is truly bizarre about it is its much-vaunted mechanism of equity and defense, which is so transparently and conspicuously a device of entrapment, dependency, and exposure. It boggles the mind to think that Greek government upon government — right and left — yielded to this inexplicable shackling of Greek security to the respective security interests of two other nations with, of course, different needs as well as, on occasion, open hostility to Greece.

Three salient aspects of the 7:10 ratio stand out. First — and most obviously — was the arbitrary determination by the US that Greek security needs were, by definition, less than those of Turkey. Why? Because Greece is obviously a much smaller country, was the self-satisfied answer of the US and its apologists. But that’s precisely the point. Because it’s so much smaller, it might actually have much more profound — more sophisticated and more expensive — defense needs against a much larger nation. (And who came up with the ridiculous 7:10 ratio?) Besides, a nation’s defense needs are for that nation to determine, not for its putative ally, and even less for its supplier. (Israel is also a small country, but it receives much more US aid than the much-larger Egypt — or any other nation.) Most important of all, it was obvious to the whole world after 1974 that Greece never posed — or cared to pose — any threat to Turkey. It was equally obvious that, until very recently, Turkey continually threatened all kinds of military action against Greece (and Cyprus), violated Greek airspace and territorial waters, and, in fact, held its armed forces in a posture defined by the permanent threat against Greece and Cyprus. What, after all, is the Turkish Fourth Army (the so-called Army of the Aegean), formed in 1975 and headquartered in Izmir in offensive posture, but the manifest expression of this threat?

Second, and even more important, was the overt binding of Greek military procurement (and therefore strategy, and therefore policy) to US aid — which aid, not at all coincidentally, was directly linked to US aid to Turkey. What was always most astounding about the 7:10 ratio was its sheer Through-the-Looking-Glass quality: the more one examined it, the more lunatic it became. To this day, I still cannot fathom why Greece made its security hostage to such overt prejudice and, even worse, vulnerability. The only possible answer, of course, is fear — of the United States, clearly — which leads to the last point.

The virtually colonial dependence on the US as the disinterested “guarantor” of peace, amity, and stability between Greece and Turkey did what every colonial relationship does in the end (among other things): it “securitized” reality. I will leave aside Greek-US relations; instead of taking a thoroughly different turn after the disastrous years between 1949 and 1974, they continued on their blithe course, and have now so completely broken down that there is hardly any Greek, of any ideological inclination, that trusts anything the US says or does anymore. As for Greek-Turkish relations, they were utterly militarized for a quarter of a century after 1974. Indeed, the policy blockage between the two neighboring countries perpetrated and perpetuated by the US was a classic example of paradigm prison.

Since the entire relationship between Greece and Turkey was structured — at least in the witless world of the Greek lobby — by the 7:10 formula, it became not only unacceptable but an act of lèse-majesté to think “outside the box” (to use Pentagon- and corporatespeak). Indeed, everybody was trapped inside a box that was politically and conceptually a prisonhouse of policymaking. It was not so much that all discussion of the Greek-Turkish relationship was relegated to “security,” but that it became impossible to see security other than as a military design, as opposed to a deep and wide-ranging engagement and transformation inevitably embedded in politics, society, the economy, and culture. Indeed, the notion of security as fundamentally a product of culture as opposed to arms was — and, in Washington, especially today, remains — unimaginable.

Which is, finally, why I said that it was the persistence and, yes, courage of the Greek government — specifically that of Costas Simitis and his foreign ministry led by, first, Theodore Pangalos and, later, George Papandreou — that produced the genuine breakthrough in Greek-Turkish relations that has guided events between the two countries and in Cyprus over the last few years. As for the 7:10 ratio, it shackled Greece to a dependent relationship on the United States, while at the same time irresponsibly (cynically?) fueling an unsustainable and extremely debilitating arms race in Greece and Turkey that did absolutely nothing to address the critical issues between the two countries. The only nation that benefited, of course, was the US. The only people who profited — and who continue to do so — were the various agents of the Greek lobby who pocketed huge sums in the forms of fees and contracts, or influence leading to same.

***

One would think that some things would have changed in the last 30 years, but the forest primeval is the permanent, and calcified, reality of the Greek American leadership. Indeed, it is a world not simply frozen in time but absolutely bereft of any possibility of imagination or intellectual divergence from the worn paths of received truth. It knows what it knows, which is not much: that the US runs the world, that it is right and meet that it do so, and that Greece’s subaltern function is to do whatever is asked of it in support of US hegemony, in the hope of some residual reward (with the stress on “residual”).

The policy police
The Western Policy Center was established in 1998 in Washington, DC (don’t ask me why an institution on the banks of the Potomac is called the Western Policy Center, unless it’s an unusually arrogant self-definition). It is funded by Greek Americans as a “bipartisan” venture, to use the notorious and distinctively American term denoting mind-control and sociopolitical hesychasm. (Why a man of the intelligence and fundamental decency of Michael Dukakis is on its board of directors is another question I cannot answer.) Like so many bipartisan endeavors in the US, of course, the “takeaway” (again, to echo the military-corporate argot of Washington) is thoroughly conservative (not to say reactionary). The neocon phenomenon, after all — from the Podhoretzes (père, mère et fils) to Richard Perle — is Democratic (albeit not very democratic). So, ignore the ostensible party affiliations and follow the money — or the mayhem, as the case may be.

With the Western Policy Center, it’s very easy to do so. Only the most mentally challenged among us can’t see where “it’s coming from” or, even more to the point, where it’s headed, or has the presumption to lead the rest of us benighted Greek Americans, since it virtually screams out its intentions, strategies, and ambitions. Its executive director is John Sitilides, who is described on the Center’s Website as the erstwhile “Executive Assistant for Communications and Legislative Affairs to former U.S. Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato” — in other words, the former PR aide to the most egregious excuse for a senator from New York in the postwar era. OK, let’s move on.

Immediately below Mr. Sitilides on the staff hierarchy, according to its Website, is the Center’s “Senior Policy Advisor,” Colonel — yes, Colonel (albeit “retired”) — Stephen R. Norton. Colonel Norton is described as the “former Defense Attaché at the U.S. embassies in Athens, Greece (1996-1998) and Nicosia, Cyprus (1987-1991), and former Assistant Army Attaché in Ankara, Turkey (1980-1983).” He was also “Special Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO) for the eastern Mediterranean region (1991-1992) and…a politico-military planner for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1984-1986) where he was responsible for formulating military policy for the region.” There’s nothing like objectivity when you’re a “senior policy advisor.”

Once we move below Mr. Sitilides and Col. Norton in the Center’s organization charts, its “bipartisan” — or, at least, professional — nature seems more apparent (it couldn’t have been less so at this point), but still highly uneven. Senior Editor Susan Spencer seems perfectly credentialed, as does Senior Fellow Paul Glastris. As for the organization’s adjunct fellows, I happen to have met one of them, Andrew Apostolou, years back when he was working for The Economist, and thought he was very bright and informed. If I remember correctly, he was doing research on the Holocaust in Greece or Greek Jewry as a whole (I don’t quite recall), which, of course, struck me as unusual — and unusually commendable — for anyone from a Greek gentile background.

The other adjuncts are Bruce Clark, a highly respected British journalist who knows Greece (and Europe generally) very well; Lt. Col. Steve Williams, yet another retired US military man, who served in the US embassy in Athens and was involved in NATO’s “police action” in Kosovo and Serbia; and, of course, Asla Aydintasbas, the journalist about whom I wrote in the first part of this article (see From Wall Street to Your Street, March 17). It is, as I said, a decidedly uneven mix of abilities and credentials. There is one thing that’s striking, however, and which unites all of these individuals as you scroll down their bios: in what is a self-described “policy center” that, in its own mission statement, focuses on research and analysis, there is not one doctoral degree to be found among the entire staff.

Don’t get me wrong: when I walked away from academia almost 20 years ago, I had just started writing my dissertation (indeed, having worked in both the corporate and academic worlds, I can attest to the fact that the only thing that separates them is the compensation). But that’s not the point. The point is that it is impossible (actually, ludicrous) to establish a “policy center” in this day and age without the kind of academic foundation that would make it credible. When a doctorate has almost become a mandatory credential for serious journalism, how can one believe that a center of “research and analysis” will be — or should be — taken seriously when it can’t even fulfill the minimal formal requirements for such an institution? Indeed, it speaks volumes for the pathetic state of “official” Greek America that most of greekworks.com’s contributors have doctorates but that nobody at the Western Policy Center does. (When I met him, I thought Andrew Apostolou was pursuing a doctoral degree at Oxford, St. Antony’s specifically, but my memory could be playing tricks on me.)

It’s bad enough that the major claim to previous intellectual purpose by the Center’s executive director was apparently flacking for a right-wing Republican whose political tenure was a source of endless embarrassment (and sardonic comment) in his home state: that’s actually often par for the course in the mentally minimal world of the organic intellectuals who inhabit the nether regions of the Beltway’s ingresses and egresses. In the event, one would assume that the Center would “staff up,” as they say. Fill the vacuum(s) and fill in the gaps. Colonels are nice, but an occasional doctor of philosophy or even of law or literature is more to the point (besides, CNN’s got generals, tons of them). Being au bout de son latin (or, in this case, de son grec) is one thing, but this is ridiculous.

Assuming, of course, that one cares about Latin. Maybe all one cares about is Rome — the imperium, in particular. Well, then, the hell with Virgil and Ovid and let’s just head straight down to the Colosseum. It’s clear that the Western Policy Center is not so much an academic grove as a gladiator’s training-ground. When you go to its Website, the home page cannot be more forthright; smack dab in the center stands its motto, and a pithy one it is: “Promoting U.S. Interests and Western Institutions in Southeastern Europe.” Let’s just parse that phrase for a moment.

Promoting US interests and Western institutions: well, yes, of course, the two don’t necessarily coincide (less and less so, in fact, in the last few years). But then doing so in Southeastern Europe? Excuse me, but there’s some cognitive dissonance here. Isn’t Europe — southeast, northwest, Mediterranean, Baltic, Latin, Saxon, Slavic, Greek, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, or agnostic — “Western”? What is “the West” if not Europe? Wasn’t that where the concept was originally created? What does it mean to bring “Western institutions” to the heart of the…West?

Coals to Newcastle, clearly — unless, of course, it’s not really Western institutions we’re talking about but just good old “US interests” in drag. Let’s go to the Western Policy Center’s mission statement again, this time in full:

The Western Policy Center is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy organization advancing solutions to Greek-Turkish, southern Balkan, and transnational problems, and promoting U.S. geostrategic interests and Western values and institutions throughout southeastern Europe, through research, analysis and debate on the vital political, economic, and security issues facing the region.

The Center fulfills its mission by:

  • Engaging select U.S. executive branch, military, and congressional leaders on foreign policy issues in the region;
  • Conducting policy analysis;
  • Formulating position papers and policy recommendations;
  • Convening public and private forums for policy-makers, lawmakers, military officials, scholars, business leaders, and foreign officials;
  • Publishing and disseminating original essays, opinions, and analyses, along with regular country reports, to a national and international readership of professionally interested parties; and
  • Improving the personal dialogue between Greeks, Turks, Cypriots, and people and organizations with special interest in the region.

Much better — or, at least, much clearer: the Cold War by other means.

Groundhog Day
I’ve often been grateful for my training as a film historian whenever I’ve had to deal with Greek America. The object of study is mostly formula in both cases (either overtly or through opposition), and, after awhile, we all get it, if we’ve been paying attention: keep your eye on the frame and assume it’s all a cartoon (which is really what Hitchcock meant by his famous “it’s only a movie”).

Unfortunately, the leadership of the Greek American community doesn’t even possess the cleverness of a good movie. For the last generation, in fact, it’s been an endless remake: Groundhog Day without the morally transformative ending. Do it differently: that’s the realization that leads to the self-knowledge in Bill Murray’s character in the end, and both liberates him from his hellish time loop and ethically saves him. Greek America’s leadership knows only one gospel, however — What is tried is what is true — which is why it has not only become totally irrelevant to the vast majority of Greek Americans, but, much worse, has become an impediment to Greece and to its future.

Look again at the mission statement quoted above: to “promot[e] U.S. geostrategic interests and Western values and institutions throughout southeastern Europe….” I can understand promoting cooperation and mutual respect and amity among the US and the countries of southeastern Europe, but promoting US geostrategic interests? Should we also assume that Western values and institutions inhere in US geostrategic interests? And what happens, in fact, when they don’t, and when US geostrategic interests clash with those “values and institutions” that southeastern Europeans think of as equally “Western” — or even more so — than those represented by US geostrategic interests? Do we then just default to the bombing option, as we did in Kosovo? Or were the values of the UCK so more profoundly “Western” than those of Milosevic, or of the Serbs in general?

Regarding the “engagement” of “select U.S. executive branch, military, and congressional leaders on foreign policy issues in the region,” we’ve seen where that leads: to freedom fries and, much more seriously and criminally, to Iraq’s national museum being gutted of 7,000 years of Mesopotamia’s history and culture under the eyes and guns of its American “liberators.” As for the violence and murder that seems to have become synonymous with “US geostrategic interests,” not to mention US definitions of “Western values and institutions,” anything that one says anymore seems almost an offense to human decency.

It is clear that another kind of engagement is needed by all of us, as citizens; we all need to start reading the world again, by ourselves, in the privacy of our own minds and affective bonds, according to our own judgments of right and wrong, of reality and falsehood. We all need to relearn the secrets of a fundamental paideia: critical, free, acute, which contests the infinite emotional distractions and moral disorientations of an ideological compulsion to power whose only purpose is to crush what we know to be true. I began this series with a particular piece of reportage on northern Iraq and ended up with the “Greek lobby” and the Western Policy Center. Need I belabor the obvious? That the media and political power and economic hegemony are so intimately linked nowadays — in the US more than in any other society in the world, and therefore increasingly throughout the world — that one can no longer read anything, or look at any image, or listen to a piece of music, without wondering what’s really behind it and who’s paying for it, and why.

I’ve said that my film background has helped me deal with Greek America. Actually, every day, I feel more and more that the world we live in has become an artificial image, an “embedded narrative” running at 24 frames per second — or, more often than not, on videotape — in which what we think we know is only what we see, and what we see is, quite literally, a shadow of a shadow of so much that we need to know. As Greek Americans, we should at least be aware that there are people out there — self-interested, self-enclosed, deaf to any notion of equal and respectful exchange — who are speaking in our name. Indeed, they have appropriated our collective name and presence for an agenda that is not only subversive of our community but, even more so, deeply damaging to Greece.

The Western Policy Center wants to assist in “mproving the personal dialogue between Greeks, Turks, Cypriots, and people and organizations with special interest in the region.” Greeks, Turks, and Cypriots are more than capable, intelligent, and astute enough to initiate, further, and maintain their own dialogues, both personal and social, on their own. As for the Greek government, it has an obligation to its citizens to stop pandering to, and in fact encouraging and promoting, the indefensible activities of organizations such as the Western Policy Center (and others as well). It is actually a matter of profound national security for Greece. Greece’s future is clear, and has been since Constantine Karamanlis decided to stake his entire historical legacy on one bet. He was right, and he won. Greece has no choice, if it wants to remain sovereign in any sense of the word, but to follow where he led. It might seem a conundrum to some, but it is actually self-evident, and the height of lucidity and reason. Anêkomen eis tên Dysên. We belong to the West — not to any simulacrum or imitation or, worst of all, forgery thereof, but to the West — not to the United States of the West.

Peter Pappas is co-founder of greekworks.com.
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