Greece: "The Odd Man Out"
In 1453 the Turks (Ottomans) conquered Constantinople. Three years later, in 1456, they conquered Athens (an insignificant small town at the time) and by 1461 they were occupying almost all the Greek areas. After the fall of Constantinople, the economic and intellectual elites from the Greek lands gravitated to Phanari, the seat of the Greek Christian Orthodox Church, a quarter in Constantinople situated on the European coast of the city.
The name Phanari came from the light ("phanari", in Greek) that used to illuminate the royal quay that was part of the quarter. By 1669 these elites, known as Phanariotes, impressed the occupying Turks enough to be used by them in the administration of the Ottoman Empire. Especially, because of their fluency in European languages, which they acquired during their education in European cities, something the Turks lacked.
From 1669 until 1821 Phanariotes served as "dragomans" (interpreters who also acted as foreign affairs advisers) to the Turks. They were also appointed "hospodars" (lords or governors) of the Danubian principalities, Moldavia and Walachia (vassal states of the Ottoman Empire). The Phanariotes also dominated the administration of the Eastern Orthodox Church. One of the most important Phanariotes families was the Rallis family.
Thus, while Johann Sebastian Bach, in poverty, was creating in Leipzig, possibly the most precious cultural treasure of the world, a few hundred miles away, the rich Greek businessmen, the Phanariotes, were ruling Bucharest, as COLLABORATORS of the occupying Turks. In Greek scholarship the Phanariotes are presented as scheming, power thirsty, subverting one another, and as being contemptuous and arrogant in their behavior towards ordinary Greeks.
The ordinary Greeks were living in poverty and were suffering the agonies of the occupation by the Turks. They tried to revolt many times (with the help of others; the Venetians and the Russians) but failed. Finally they succeeded in 1821 and freed themselves of the Turks.
Yet, the Greeks were not really free. The western European powers forced a young Bavarian prince on them as a king. As expected, Greece became a client state (or better it was under tacit or open occupation) of the "civilized" West European powers; the Bavarians, the French (culturally), the British, the (Nazi )Germans, and (from 1947 to this day) to the US.
After 1821 the Phanariotes migrated to Athens and settled in Kolonaki, an area of Athens close to the Bavarian Royal Palace (today the Parliament building), which is situated in Syntagma Square. Millions of Americans have started their tourist "adventure" of Athens from Syntagma and Kolonaki. No tourist guide ever mentions to the American tourists that the Phanariotes of Kolonaki have been ruling the Greek people for 150 years as COLLABORATORS of the occasional occupying power.
In 1849, George Rallis, son of the eminent Phanariote Alexander Rallis, became Chief Justice of the Greek Supreme Court. Demitrios Rallis was Prime Minister of Greece, in the late 1890s and the early 1900s. John Rallis was Prime Minister of Greece under the Nazis, as a COLLABORATOR, from April of 1943 to 1944, during the (1941-1944) occupation of Greece by the Germans.
To understand what being a Prime Minister for the Nazis means here is an example: John Rallis established courts martial through Act 62 of May 7, 1943. In Article 3 we read: "... Whenever many (persons) unite to pursue anarchist or communist goals... are punished by death".
And in Article 4: "Any person that aims at overthrowing the existing order... Advises or incites others to revolt or resist authority is also punished by death".
(It is probable that John Ashcroft will find John Rallis, his namesake and fellow-Christian, a very interesting person).
Many Greeks lost their lives in the hands of the judges of John Rallis, but that could not stop the Resistance against the Nazis, on the contrary it intensified. So, Rallis had out a new law, Act 260 of June 1943, that established the "Security Battalions", which the Nazis built by recruiting thugs from the occupied peoples themselves.
Even the Nazis were surprised by the cruelty of the Battalion thugs. That after WW II, the US elites have used these very same Battalion thugs as tools of their foreign policy, is a testament to their amorality.
(Here is an interesting parenthesis: The Commander of the Battalion thugs in Peloponese was a certain Papadogonas. After the July 24 1944 attempt against Hitler, Papadogonas sent a congratulatory telegram to Hitler. Here is part of the text of the telegram: "(The Battalion members) bend the knee in gratitude before the Almighty God, who extended a protective hand over your life to preserve you for the German nation and for Europe united in the struggle against the communist plague".
A few days later Hitler and Himler (!) thanked Papadogonas for his telegram. The son of Papadogonas, today is a Deputy in the Greek Parliament and had been a Minister in conservative governments. He states that he is proud of his father. End of the parenthesis.)
John Rallis, after the Nazis left Greece, was sentenced to life in prison and died in prison in 1946. His son George Rallis was Prime Minister of Greece in the late 1970s, under the (benevolent) US "supervision". Today (2002) he lives in Kolonaki in retirement.
During the early 1980s the US installed a series of "socialist" governments in those European countries that veered towards the left; Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. The bearer of "socialist" tidings to Greece was (the American educated, etc) Andreas Papandreou.
Papandreou appropriated the slogans of the communist party, mainly the slogans "Out with the (US) bases of death" and "Americans murderers of peoples", and won the elections in 1981. He, also, invited a group of young leftist "radicals" to his government offering them abundant economic and political power.
After 20 years in power, these (now middle-aged) "radicals" turned into very rich (rightist) reactionaries (of the Horowitz ilk) in the service of the US Embassy. Of course, the Phanariotes of Kolonaki were (and are) very angry that the US brought these upstarts among them, but there was nothing they could do. Now Uncle Sam has two sets of Greek Christian Orthodox "patriots" to use in a (theatrical) two-party system.
So, if this is the history of the elites in Greece, how about the ordinary Greeks? The Greeks after 1821 until today have tried, no matter how poor, to offer their offspring an education. The sacrifices of the Greek parents to enable their children to face a complex world with education as a tool are amazing.
The young Greeks of today can speak and write in two or three foreign languages. However, there are four very important factors that enabled the Greeks to have an "attitude...so different than" other Europeans. An analysis (in capsule) of these factors is as follows:
1. In 1918, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) was established in Greece. KKE influenced the Greek society in a very positive way. The integrity, honesty, and heroism (under torture and decades of long imprisonment) of its rank and file members was respected even by conservative Greeks.
Yet, except for the period of anti-Nazi Resistance, KKE could not attain more than 10% of members and of supporters among the Greeks, because of the opportunism and the control by the Soviets of its leadership. (Something a rational observer could expect of any leadership of no matter what color). However, the humanitarian aspects of socialism had a great impact on ordinary Greeks.
2. In 1918, after the end of WWI, the heads of the victor states: Clemanceau (of France), Lloyd George (of Britain), Wilson (of the US), and Orlando (of Italy), gathered in Paris and started bargaining to divide the spoils of the war. The arrogance, the scheming, the subverting of one another of these (vacuous) men is monumental.
Early in the war these European allies had agreed that after the war Turkey would be divided among them. So, the Italians proceeded to occupy the coast of Asia Minor, which included the coastal port of the city of Smyrna (Izmir).
The British and the French used the (more than eager) "patriotic" Greek elites to stop the Italians by allowing them to dispatch the Greek army to occupy Smyrna, in 1919. To justify this act to the British Parliament, Lloyd George stated:
"The Greeks are the people of the future for the Mediterranean East... They are excellent sailors (and they) will become a naval power. They will be the first guardians of the great route that secures the unity of the Commonwealth". (Meaning the route to the Middle East oil).
Of course, it was the interest of the (civilized and benevolent) British that was paramount. An ideal shared by the elites of their colony across the Atlantic. In August of 1922 the Turks (actually with the help of the British et al) burnt Smyrna and drove the Geek populations out of Asia Minor, who had been living there for more than 2.5 thousand years.
More than 1.2 million Greek refugees landed on mainland Greece, which at that time had a population of about 4.6 million; an increase of about 26% of the original population. These refugees injected a tremendous vitality in the cultural, economic and political life of the ordinary Greeks.
This was an additional positive factor for a realistic view of the world by the ordinary Greeks. Most of the refugees, at first living in great poverty, became the pool for the members of the KKE and of the Greek Left in general.
3. The Resistance against the Nazis (from 1942 to 1944), carried out by the ordinary Greeks, with KKE as the vanguard, is possibly the most important factor that radicalized the Greeks towards the left.
After the Nazis left, in October of 1944, between 35 and 40 percent of the ordinary Greeks were either members of the KKE or deeply radicalized towards the left. Also, they were armed! The imminent social revolution by the Greeks was drowned in blood (more than 160,000 dead) by the British and the Americans, with the tacit approval of Stalin himself!
Memories of this kind lead people towards mature thinking. That is why the Greeks could understand the barbarous "humanitarianism" of the US bombing of Kosovo or the "philanthropic" crushing of the Afghan population by the US.
4. The (US-instigated) dictatorship of 1967 to 1974 was another very important instructive experience for the Greeks. After the dictatorship the US proxies of the Greek elites were obliged to legalize the KKE. So, the US found itself in the awkward situation of having many young Greeks approaching the Communist Youth of the KKE, to the consternation of the US Embassy.
The day was saved for the US by the dogmatic leadership of KKE itself, which disappointed the young people with its uninteresting and sclerotic organization, and by Andreas Papandreou who rendered the most valuable services to the US by leading the Greeks in a US-constructed "socialism". Yet, the brutality of the dictatorship was an eye-opener for the latest generation of Greeks.
- The Background of Hate
One morning during the dictatorship my wife and I were driving towards Syntagma Square. The car before us was an American station wagon. In the rear window of the car there were three children between the ages of six and nine. The children were looking towards us and then after a little while they started pointing their palms in our direction with all fingers extended apart, on their faces an expression of unbelievable HATE.
The palm-gesture (known as "moutza", of Byzantine, or French, or Venetian origin) is considered by the Greeks as the ultimate insult towards a person. There have been cases of one driver killing another one in a traffic incident after the exchange of such an insult.
We tried to figure out why those American parents, probably US military, or US Embassy personnel, or civilian personnel of the US Mission in Greece, taught their offspring this gesture of hate. And they had to teach it to them, as it is not something that you encounter often in your daily life. Even more important, why did they teach them to hate the people of another country.
My opinion: These particular American parents (in the employ of the US Government) passed this hate to their offspring, because they considered the Greeks a lesser race.
The US naval base in Souda Bay, on the island of Crete, is probably one of the most important US military installations in the world. About 460 US service members serve at the base, with a US and Greek civilian population of approximately another 440.
Late in the evening of February 2 of 2002 in the town of Chania, two US sailors from the nearby Souda base assaulted a young Greek woman, stole her handbag, containing about 800 dollars (in Drachmas), and beat her badly up. They stopped the beating only when they panicked from the presence of some Italian sailors that happened to pass by.
The face of Mina Kallou, a young woman in her late twenties, that we saw on our TV screens was quite beaten up. She thought that the US sailors were beating her with inexplicable hate. The mugging was KEPT QUIET by the Greek police for 11 days, despite the fact that the culprits were caught immediately and had already admitted their guilt. The names of the sailors were not made public and they were DETAINED in the Souda base.
A Souda base spokesman, Paul Farley, said the mugging was an "isolated incident". However, the Greek papers reported that a similar incident, with a taxi-driver as the victim of the robbing by US servicemen, took place, in Chania, one month before the above cited bbone. Innumerable incidents like the ones described above have being taking place in Greece for more than a half century. The accused US military are always whisked out of Greece and that's it.
George W. Bush explained to the world why the rest of the world hates America: it is envy. One could, in deep respect, ask President Bush, why his employees hate the rest of the world. Is it a matter of national security for the US? As explained in the text above, the majority of the Greeks know the answer.
P.S. The title of this Commentary was borrowed from a Wall Street Journal article of a rightist Greek politician and member of a D.C. American think tank, Andreas Andrianopoulos, who was lamenting in the article why Greece was the "Odd Man Out" in Europe in approving the "humanitarian" bombing of Serbia by the US. Andrianopoulos is a quite good example of a member of the Greek elites.