Dream­ing of Trump

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Greek so­ci­ety is rag­ing again. Peo­ple are ex­hausted and an­gry. The things you hear be­ing said are very sim­i­lar to the noises ahead of the first elec­tions in 2012, when the old po­lit­i­cal sys­tem was routed in a spec­tac­u­lar man­ner. No­body could have pre­dicted then what would fol­low. In this era of rage and ex­as­per­a­tion, Don­ald Trump has, un­sur­pris­ingly, gained fans in Greece, some of whom are par­tic­u­larly fiery. His anti-sys­temic style, the of­fer­ing of sim­ple and im­me­di­ate so­lu­tions to long­stand­ing prob­lems and his un­der­ly­ing au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism are com­pletely in line with the kind of qual­i­ties part of our so­ci­ety would like in a leader. The longer our democ­racy fails to pro­vide so­lu­tions to prob­lems, the more ad­mi­ra­tion for Vladimir Putin, Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan and Trump will grow. Of course, I find it dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how to­day’s Greece would ac­cept a gov­ern­ment made up of bankers, hedge fund man­agers and gen­er­als, but in this crazy age any­thing is pos­si­ble. Is it to Greece’s ad­van­tage that Trump is the US pres­i­dent to­day? At the mo­ment, he seems to be lead­ing an ad­min­is­tra­tion that has a pos­i­tive view of the po­lit­i­cal forces that want to break up the Euro­pean Union and is not par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the eu­ro­zone’s co­he­sion. Some peo­ple seem to be­lieve the new US pres­i­dent will or­der the Amer­i­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the IMF board to in­sist that the Fund with­draws from the Greek pro­gram. There are many in the IMF who would like this to hap­pen but there is ab­so­lutely no in­di­ca­tion that it will. In geopo­lit­i­cal terms, we do not yet have a clue about how Trump will af­fect us. One pos­si­bil­ity is closer co­op­er­a­tion between Greece and the USA in the fight against Is­lamic ter­ror­ism. Some peo­ple take it a step fur­ther and sug­gest that if In­cir­lik Air Base in Turkey ceases to be avail­able, Greece could host Amer­i­can air­craft. They be­lieve Greece will be­come the West’s line of de­fense against Is­lam. The ques­tion that will arise in such an even­tu­al­ity is whether we can live up to such a role. Are we a coun­try that could or would want to be a lighter ver­sion of Is­rael? And, how se­ri­ous will the threat of a ter­ror­ist at­tack be in re­tal­i­a­tion for our co­op­er­a­tion with the US? As is well known, Greece is not an im­preg­nable fortress in terms of do­mes­tic se­cu­rity. Lastly, Trump is cer­tain to try to get in­volved in en­ergy is­sues between Turkey, Is­rael, Egypt and Cyprus. The cor­po­rate in­ter­est is sig­nif­i­cant and many of the play­ers are his ac­quain­tances. For the time be­ing, part of Greek pub­lic opin­ion is imag­ing what it would be like to have a prime min­is­ter like Trump. And, part of the Greek es­tab­lish­ment is imag­in­ing deals and geopo­lit­i­cal ac­tion with him. The first dream is un­der­stand­able, the se­cond is, for the time be­ing, dan­ger­ous.

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