March 08, 2004


Greece is liberated:

Greek conservatives ended a decade of socialist rule with a resounding election victory today which handed new Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the challenging job of overseeing this year's Olympic Games.

After exit polls indicated a win of around five percentage points for the New Democracy party of Karamanlis, socialist leader George Papandreou conceded defeat.

Given the new PMs background -- he was educated in the US -- this might also signal a decline in Greek anti-Americanism.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 8, 2004 09:00 PM

Falafel for all!

Posted by: Sortelli at March 8, 2004 at 09:02 PM

It will, but not for the reason given> the Elder Papandreaou, father of the current one, while educated in Greece, bravely spent WWII fighting the good fight as a professor at UCLA Berkley. This allowed him, after the war, to call my father and grandfather traitors. One fought in the Royalist resistance and the other was a naval officer who refused to be evacuated and spent the war in Athens as a civilian.

Posted by: sam at March 8, 2004 at 09:07 PM

Inotherwords this bloke is going to take it in the shorts when the Olympics turn out to be a giant clusterf***. Sod the atheletes, what is going to be fun to watch is just how badly organised the whole affair really is in the end.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at March 8, 2004 at 09:37 PM

The Athens Olympics will probably make the Munich Olympics look like a smashing success in comparison.

Trusting the Greeks with your security is like trusting...

Posted by: Reid of America at March 8, 2004 at 09:57 PM

Yes, big and much-needed change coming to Greece. One thing that sadly is unlikely to change is Greek anti-Americanism which is deeply ingrained into most Greeks, fed mostly by the role of the CIA in the 1967-74 junta, the humiliation of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, also blamed on the USA; and probably well before that, the Civil War of 1946-49 and the Marshall Plan, and the long experience of American military bases on Greek soil.

The link you gave above relates to 1999 and the Kosovo bombings, deeply resented and opposed by most Greeks, but subsequently such voluble and violent demonstrations, exploited by anarchists, have taken place regularly, particularly during the Iraq invasion a year ago, during which the Greek media was universally, hysterically and almost laughably anti-American. Guys like John Pilger, George Galloway and the like became often-replayed superstars on Greek TV.

All of which recalls a moment in the 1974/5 elections following the fall of the junta, when I watched a guy well known to me (then standing for parliament for the first time, later to go on to a very distinguished career in Greek politics), tapping unashamedly into this sentiment at a mass rally in central Athens, yelling "Exo I Amerikanoi!" (out with the Americans) with his smiling blonde American wife standing close by his side.

Posted by: Rob Wallace at March 8, 2004 at 10:07 PM

Hm. Speaking of the 2004 Olympics, Israel doesn't have a capital city.

Posted by: Rick C at March 9, 2004 at 02:22 AM

"he was educated in the US -- this might also signal a decline in Greek anti-Americanism."

Right, dude. Nobody educated in the US could possibly harbor or foment anti-Americanism...

Posted by: buzz harsher at March 9, 2004 at 02:36 AM

Rick, the capital of Israel is Tel Aviv!!!!

Posted by: LVbabe at March 9, 2004 at 06:52 AM

If he attended an American college or university, then he had anti-American propaganda spewed at him on a daily basis. Nowhere in the world is the U.S. as despised as by left-wing academics "teaching" on American campuses.

Posted by: George L. at March 9, 2004 at 08:54 AM

LV, did you read Rick's link?

And it's Jerusalem.

Posted by: Sortelli at March 9, 2004 at 12:47 PM

I'ts my understanding that he and the head of the Socialist Party agree on about 95% of the issues and that the reason the New Democracy Party won so handily was the widespread cronyism (sp?) and corruption in the government. Does this mean Socialism leads to consensus--"Socialism doesn't work"?

He wants to cut taxes and increase funding for schools and hospitals so he'll either have to find other cuts or learn that increased spending IS increased taxing.

Posted by: Neocon Apologist at March 9, 2004 at 01:02 PM

Papandreou's mother Margaret was American. As a Marxist feminist internationalist peace activist, she was also strenuously anti-American.
GP's Trotskyist-socialist father Andreas became an American citizen (1944) yet was equally anti-American.
(By the way, Sam, he was not at Berkeley but at Harvard during WWII.)
But Greece hasn't been anti-American because its leaders were; Greek leaders have been hostile to the U.S. because most Greeks are.
This is tied up with Greece's enduring infatuation with communism, which dates to the fierce struggle between Communists and anticommunists after WWII. Defeat gave the coms a kind of victory: it made them romantic heroes AND victims, perfect martyrs for the masses. The rule of the Colonels arguably saved Greece from communism a second time, but the genuine nastiness of the junta only served to preserve and even sanctify the country's attachment to that odious creed.
While other Europeans learned to hate communism from harrowing experience, the Greeks continued for decades to cherish the belief that communism is noble and good.
In Greek politics, everything rests on your attitude to the junta. Condemning it is de rigueur. Hating the U.S. is also de rigueur, because the U.S. / CIA supported the junta. Opposing the U.S. makes you one with the brave communist/socialist heroes who fought against the junta (a bit like the way being left-wing in France aligns you with the resistance).
A conservative government may finally make it possible for Greeks to get over their childish attachment to the teddy bear of socialism/communism and support the U.S. in tones louder than a whisper.

Posted by: arly at March 9, 2004 at 01:03 PM

The Socialist Government brought inflation down to low levels and opened up the Greek economy however they were too long in power, just like the liberals here, which is why the new Government is welcome.

It is hoped they continue the reform program and cut corruption.

Posted by: Homer Paxton at March 9, 2004 at 01:09 PM

IMHO, terrorism at the Olympics is a vote for W in November. They don't want to risk that.

Oh, goody, going from commie to socialist. What a great leap "right."

However, I was always treated very nicely there when I visited wayyyy back in the 80s.

Posted by: Sandy P. at March 9, 2004 at 03:29 PM

Until the seizure of Jerusalem, TEL AVIV served as the de facto capital of Israel.

Though Israel subsequently designated Jerusalem to be its capital,
that designation was regarded as a breach of international law
and not accepted by the diplomatic community (with just two exceptions, Costa Rica and El Salvador).
All other countries continue to regard Tel Aviv as the de jure Israeli capital,
All embassies and consulates are there.

The Congress of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital,
but the president was given permission to prevent the moving of the US embassy from Tel Aviv.

Posted by: peggy sue at March 9, 2004 at 09:35 PM