What’s the matter with Greece?
SHAUN BOTTERILL/Getty Images In response to my post last Friday on Fred Kaplan’s anti-Americanism experiment over at Slate, a reader from Greece e-mailed me (all errors of syntax and grammar are original): First of all no-one hates americans or the american way of life. The afghans fought against the americans as well as against the ...
SHAUN BOTTERILL/Getty Images
In response to my post last Friday on Fred Kaplan’s anti-Americanism experiment over at Slate, a reader from Greece e-mailed me (all errors of syntax and grammar are original):
First of all no-one hates americans or the american way of life. The afghans fought against the americans as well as against the russians. Unless the USSR and the USA of the early 80’s had the same values it means that those people are blowing you up because you’re occcupying their country, not because you have a “decadent” way of life.
Now I can only speak about my own country Greece. There have always been a lot of american tourists in Greece and they are as likeable as French, Italians, Germans etc. There is a large american community in Athens and there’s the Greek-American community that makes americans particularly likeable in Greece. I can tell you that everyone loves americans, as well as their way of life. However we absolutely hate american foreign policy. The Greeks will take to the streets to demonstrate against american aggression worldwide. The reason for this is because we have experienced it first hand.
After the second world war, the USA rewarded the incumbent government that collaborated with the Germans and armed them in order to strike the Communist party that was the only force that resisted the german occupation. The communist party was exterminated in what is called the first US intervention in Europe. My country was plunged into a ten-year civil war that saw tens of thousand of people being killed.
When democracy was restored in the mid fifties, the US didn’t deem the greek government favourable enough and instigated and supported a coup. The military establishment governed the country with an iron fist, with the support of the US. In return the US was allowed to house the 6th fleet in Greece and built dozens of american bases for radars and rockets.
In short the actions of the US government has caused a lot of pain, and most people are old enough to have been directly affected by that aggression. Now if you take a closer look at countries all over the world you’ll see that similar actions were taken. Take for instance Latin America. The US has supported all kinds of dictatorships; Chile, Argentina, Guatemala… The list goes on and on. Have a look at how the US has stoped communism spreading all over the world. Vietnam, Korea, Cambodia. Not to mention of course the blatant support for Israel.
You say that it was american citizens that were killed in the twin towers and not government officials. The same goes for the countries that you claim hate you for no reason
Normally, I would not justify with a response this kind of despicable attempt to rationalize the murderous attacks of 9/11 using selective history. But this example is important, not least of all because it comes from Greece, a country where anti-Americanism is handed down from generation to generation like heirloom china.
First, the interpretation provided above glosses over much, including the U.S. role in rehabilitating Greece after World War II, when U.S. foreign aid and the Marshall Plan helped Greece go from being a devastated receiver of foreign aid to a giver of it. This is to say nothing of the role America’s open doors played in helping countless Greeks. They are now among the United States’ most prosperous immigrant communities.
Second, it’s tempting to think that Iraq squandered America’s goodwill in places like Greece. The Passport reader above professes that in his country, “everyone loves americans.” Too bad the facts show the opposite — and did so long before Iraq. As Greek writer Takis Michas pointed out in The National Interest in 2002, one survey of secondary school students in Greece conducted in the late 1990s ranked Americans below Gypsies as being among the most despised peoples in the world.
Greek extremists have occasionally even taken American blood as retribution for perceived wrongs — from the murder of four Americans, three diplomats and a Harvard-educated CIA officer named Richard Welch, in 1975 to the rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Athens just 11 months ago. Since 1975, in fact, there have been more than 145 terrorist attacks against Americans or American interests in Greece. And, as the report of the U.S. National Commission on Terrorism noted back in 2000: “Only one case has been solved and there is no indication of any meaningful investigation into the remaining cases.”
Finally, I never claimed that America is hated “for no reason.” We have our demons, historical and otherwise. And Greece has its own. They include Greek paramilitary units fighting alongside Bosnian Serbs under the command of wanted war criminal Gen. Ratko Mladic. Rail against U.S. interventionism in Latin America during the Cold War if you like. But then ask yourself why the same Greeks who cheered the genocide of Muslims in Srebrenica were so quick to summon anger over the U.S. invasion of Iraq?
This is the kind of hypocrisy we’ve come to expect from the world’s worst illiberal and backwater autocracies. But Greece is a member of NATO, the European Union, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — and thanks in no small part to the United States. Which is why its particular breed of anti-Americanism is so scary.
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