The New Grand Strategy of Greece and its Mediterranean Geostrategic Imperatives. By Alexander Th. Drivas

                                                                     greece in mediterranean

The win of Titans against the Gods.

In Greek Mythology, the clash between good and evil symbolized with the big and constant war between Gods and Titans. Before we start to shape on our thoughts about the feasible –and possible- new grand strategy of Greece, it is necessary to mention that the Greek debt crisis has all those characteristics which prove that the debt crisis was definitely the last consequence. The first cause is the  total absence of grand strategy. The recent history of Greece (1974 and after) has all the characteristics that prove the maladies. Therefore, the Greek  situation is not irreversible.

This is full of irony if we estimate two reasons. Firstly, Greece’s heritage is full of paradigms of grand strategy from the so called “glorious antiquity”to the Balkan Wars and the WWI. Secondly, the greater region that Greece belongs geographically, is a part of McKinder’s  Heartland and Spykman’s Rimland. The Mediterranean Sea, accommodated at least four empires (Athenian, Roman, Byzantine & Ottoman). Being on the physical border of the Southeastern Europe, Northeastern Africa and Western Middle East, Greece is determined to be a geographic border among these regions. However, the Greek governments never cared to establish a grand strategy. Giving a scheme to these thoughts, we could say that Greece holds Diamond but it never paid attention to Landes. If we admit that is hard to find a total definition to explain the sense of grand strategy, the Greek political stuff, ignored it at all.

Grand strategy is the sum of a state’s activities. Defining its purposes, grand strategy is the “personality of state” and the way which follows the state to fulfill its plans. Economy, Military, Education, Demographic issues, Internal and Foreign Policy are the general substantial of grand strategy. After the WWII, Greek redeeming came late because of the civil war (mainly in1950’s). Unfortunately, the unstable political situations in Greece came to an end no before 1974. After that, Greek economy changed. From agricultural model of production, Greece was ready to transit its economy to the third sector of production. Greek productivity was held from services and maritime trade. Since then, -without the support of industrialization- Greek economy showed its vulnerability. Also, referring to foreign policy’s sector, Greece had only two pillars. The region of Balkans and Turkey. We could easily understand that Greece’s foreign policy based on its neighbors threats and never to its regional opportunities.

The total absence of grand strategy’s characteristics proved when the USSR collapsed. The systemic change had never taken in consideration by Hellenic administration. The opportunities of acting an important regional role in the greater area, had been reduced as a result, Greece, diminished its potential role which was no other that help post-communist regimes so that they could be transformed according to the western institutions. An important example of Greek diplomacy was the Agreement of Elsinki in 1996. In this agreement Greek and Turkish counterparts agreed to put the Greek-Turkish differences into the EU’s pattern. According to this, Greece would never block with veto the Turkish European process unless Turkey continued to raise imperial ambitions against Greece. Actually, the only qualification that needed to be a diplomat in Greece was no other than to be a proficient of International Law. The usage of International Law and its invocation, were the reasons that Greece made alliances with Arabic states. Andreas Papandreou claimed that the Arabic states would support Greek quests in UN (against Turkey) and in exchange, Greece would support Arabic interests. Calculating the result of this strategy, we can say nothing else but that it failed.

Robert Kaplan’s analysis for Greece in his articles “For Greece’s Economy, Geography was Destiny” and “Is Greece European?” provide a lot of correct answers about the Greek attitude in Economy and in Foreign Policy. We can also refer to Henry Kissinger who claimed that “Greece has the history on its side but she does not know what to do with it”. Mark Mazower, in his article Democracy’s Cradle, Rocking the World”proves that Greece has all the geostrategic merits and that is the reason for whom, we can find her in milestones of historical incidents. In other words, Greece’s destiny have incised by fallacious decision making. Geopolitics, have their importance but they must be transited into geostrategy if a state desires to achieve its survival. Consuming its natural wealth, Greece refused to use the rise of American power after 1950’s and it seemed to be an unstable pivotal state. Not only the Greek foreign policy did not transit into geostrategy, but also transited into populism. In 1980’s, Greece had more resemblances with meta-communist states than the western in an era that the essence of progress came from the West.

Trying to imprison (again) the Titans

For each problem, there is a solution, otherwise there is no problem. That is the axis of rationality. In nowadays the debt crisis gives the aim to open the Pandora’s box, so the fallacies have already disclosed. The first (most difficult) pattern of shaping a grand strategy, is neither the economy nor the health administration. It is doubtless that the so-called hard power has a material basis, but its funds couldn’t be materialized. We must underline the separation between idealism and the usage of ideas for a realistic structure. Realistic thought has the strategic willing in its core. This kind of soft power is the crucial “good start” to face the challenge of change. That means it should be built a new social contract between citizens and state. Inside the Greek political system, we can find out the total absence of a party that claims the doctrine “free inside, strong outside”. In addition, the new liberal parties in Greece have the best plans for the Greek exit from debt crisis -supporting the free-market ideas that didn’t take place in Greece- but grand strategy is not only the economic policy. In order to build a new grand strategy it is prerequisite that each plan, (according to grand strategy) connects the internal policy with the external one. Somewhere here, it is important to mention the educational role. A kind of such a response, covers one of the most crucial question for grand strategy’s issues; “What citizens we want and in what state?”.

Avoiding conflicts or learning International Law by heart, both of them, consist the Greek vulnerability. Grand Strategy’s issues accumulate the image of the inner which could have an external dynamic. They are not few the articles which have as certain point to scatter the myths. They pursue one “realistic” view and they forget that myths, images and heritage are domestic funds for society’s unity. Do we need the “myths”?  The contemporary Greek feels neither as ancestor of ancient Greece, nor Byzantine. The average of the Greek citizen, has no identity. That is the role of education. Nothing to believe, means nothing to focus on. Moreover, nothing to focus on, means nothing to expect and nothing to gain.

Imitating Hercules

Unfortunately, Greece has such a big problem to face (in its foreign relations) that, we can call it as a problem. “Athlos”. In ancient and modern Greek, “athlos” means a huge problem whose solution could bring you glory. If politics have the obligation to solve problems, Greece will have a lot to do. Firstly, its foreign affairs need a new start. How could we imagine a new start for Greek foreign policy?

Firstly, it is obligatory that Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, understand the Cline’s equation of power (Pp=(C+E+M) x (S+W) ) Explaining this equation with simplicity, it is necessary to reestablish the realistic way of calculation. Economic situation, Hard power, an adoption of a feasible strategic goal (macro-plan), and the decisiveness to follow it, are the funds of foreign policy and grand strategy. Secondly, we must focus on the qualitative factor of the equation. The adoption of a strategic goal and the willing to follow it, are the most important parameters concerning the part of decision making. So, the following question is what could be the feasible and obtainable strategic goal for Greece? It is a matter of high importance to mention that foreign policy without geopolitical and geostrategic knowledge, is not useful. Greece must take the appropriate initiatives to “reconstruct” its neighborhood. The greater neighborhood of Greece, is the South-Eastern Mediterranean, but the feasible suburb to reconstruct, are the Balkans. In the specific  area, the problems are big so there is a big opportunity for Greece. The opposite argument would be the disability of Greece in the era of its economic calamity. Following the opportunities of international relations, would be a solving factor for many reasons. The deeper thought of adopting initiatives is that you show a proposal that could be beneficial not only for your state  but also, for other countries. We can mention that Turkish diplomacy, isn’t very different from this. Sometimes, teaching the others could make you better. External responsibility, reliability and power have a deeper connection among them.

Following the third step, we pose a question. What could be taught a Balkan state from Greece? The -so called- Soft Power, could complete the realistic actions. The usage or common religion, the spillover of western institutions and the promotion of Hellenism and all the things that could consist a cultural diplomacy, are very important matters. Being strong and having openness, means that you are potential useful for your region (even a pivotal state for a great power). Moreover, Greece has to face its diplomacy like a company faces its sales. The essence of marketing is another change that we must put it in grand strategy’s plan. Fields like Culture, Tourism and Greek environment, could be used as separate pillar of Greek foreign policy. Having an active foreign policy, means that you have opinion for everything concerns your neighborhood, and of course, that you are awake to propose solutions, to gain opportunities by promoting the regional stability.

The sudden presence of Goddess Athena.

It is a part of common knowledge that the Goddess Athena, was the Goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology. The factors that have been referred to the previous paragraphs, have the need of a good start. Greek government managed very well the possibility of an alignment among Israel, Cyprus and Greece. Also, it is a matter of crucial importance the possibility that Greece could be an energetic junction. A possible strategic coalition among the three states, would be beneficial for Greece, which has the urgent need to have powerful partners. The problems that would be transferred into this triangle are many and full of complexitivity, however, the trilateral coalition can change the geostrategic environment of South-Eastern Mediterranean. So, Greece must seize the opportunity. The Greek-Cypriote doctrine of common defense, would be sustainable and more powerful with the presence of a power like Israel. Moreover, putting the subject into international sphere, the new doctrine of NATO, – focuses on homeland and citizen’s security-, which tries to take control of the possible asymmetric threats, is an open door for Greece. Using its geostrategic advantages, –being in the heart among regions which are problematic- Greece, can still control its map.

As a conclusion, we cannot forget that is never easy to build such a policy. It would take time to establish a new Grand Strategy’s plan for Greece. To sum up, Greece must take advantage of its geopolitics and to take the appropriate decisions The main need of Greece from human resources is to find “managers” and “merchants”. Geopolitics, would be –as Morgenthau claimed- a false-science if they are not followed by the appropriate decision making. Following the money and focusing on the map, preparing for the worst and aspirating for the best, all of them, consist the essence both of grand strategy and foreign policy. Greece must “hunt” nothing less, than to transit itself  to a regional power, which could guarantee stability and peace to its region.



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