In my last article I stressed that the future of the Greek American community is at risk because we are not fully engaged as a community on foreign policy issues concerning U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
We are not consulted or asked for our input as a community by our own government before decisions are made regarding U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.
We have been marginalized by the pro-Turkish forces in the government, in the think tanks in the media; and by Turkey’s paid lobbyists and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which now has more than 90 fulltime paid staff members monitoring the Congress, the media, the academic community and think tanks, so that they can respond when they believe it’s necessary (AIPAC also works to initiate favorable articles).
In the article I set forth the four primary centers of power in the development of U.S. foreign policy, namely:
- the Executive Branch (the White House and National Security Council (NSC) and the Departments of State and Defense;
- the academic community and think tanks.
In general, the development of foreign policy in the U.S. comes from the interplay of these four centers of power.
The Executive Branch
The Executive Branch is the main problem for the Greek American community. By the Executive Branch I mean the White House and its National Security Council, and the State and Defense Departments. It is this group which has been the main proponent of a pro-Turkish policy at the expense of Greece and Cyprus and to the detriment of U.S. interests in the region.
In my first article on “The Need to Get Active” I discussed in detail the overriding importance of the Congress and its ability to influence the Executive Branch. I stressed the need to follow the example of the Jewish American community and develop Congressional Contact Leadership Teams of at least 3 Greek Americans for each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the Senate. That means we need at least 1605 Greek American leaders throughout the U.S. grass roots leaders in every state and congressional district.
I was very pleased to read the National Herald’s November 5, 2005 editorial endorsement of the American Hellenic Institute’s Congressional Contact Leadership Team program.
A key way to influence the Executive Branch is through the Congress with its power of the purse, its oversight responsibilities and its authority to make law and set policy through legislation.
Two other ways to influence the Executive Branch is through the other two centers of power, the media and the academic community and think tanks.
By “media” I mean our newspapers, radio, television, news weeklies, and monthlies. We need members of the community involved with their local papers in the 100 leading cities.
Special attention should be given to the leading dozen plus newspapers: The New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Enquirer, Baltimore Sun, Atlanta Constitution, Miami Herald, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union-Tribune and Sacramento Bee. We need persons assigned to the news weeklies Time Magazine, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, and biweeklies and monthlies such as Harpers, Atlantic, National Review, Commentary, The American Conservative and The New Republic.
The media frames the public debate on most issues. The newspapers and TV news programs are read and viewed every day by members of Congress and the Executive Branch officials.
There is a daily interplay among the media, the Congress and the Executive Branch out of which comes the news of the day and the issues of the day.
We have not done enough with the media. Much can be done by visits and letters to the editors, reporters and columnists of newspapers and letters to the editor and submission of Op-Ed articles and by letters and visits to TV and radio news bureaus.
Of significant importance is the creation of news stories through conferences, seminars, speeches and demonstrations.
It takes a major effort and commitment to be effective with the media. It can be done and it is interesting work. AHI stands ready to supply the factual and policy information to anyone interested.
The Academic Community and Think Tanks
The academic community and think tanks in the United States play a larger role in foreign policy matters than their counterparts in other countries because of the power and independence of the Congress.
By the academic community, I mean those professors in our colleges and universities who specialize in international relations and who write in scholarly journals as well as monthly magazines and who submit op-ed articles to the leading newspapers. By think tanks I mean those in Washington, D.C., the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute and others elsewhere in the country who deal with foreign policy issues which are currently in the news.
We have not done enough with the academic community and think tanks. The academic community is a prime proponent of the values we espouse the rule of law, majority rule, protection of minority and human rights and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The facts and issues are on our side. The challenge is to get them to the academic community and think tanks. Much more needs to be done and soon. As with the media it takes a major effort and commitment.
Our challenge is to organize individuals and teams with assignments to follow the activities of the foreign policy specialists in the various think tanks and international affairs departments in our colleges and universities and to engage them in a dialogue.
To be effective in foreign policy requires a full day’s effort, 365 days-a year, with each of the four centers of power. The challenge facing our community is to do just that. If we do not become part of the mainstream of the foreign policy development process, we will be perceived as an ineffective ethnic community of little consequence in the mosaic that is America.
How to become active
If you are interested in becoming active with the media and/or the academic community and think tanks in your area simply contact the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), by telephone (202-785-8430) or fax (202-785-5178) or by letter (1220 16th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036), and give us your particulars: name, address, phone, e-mail, your congressional district and representative if you know them, and a brief bio.
A media and/or academic community representative is separate and distinct from AHI’s Congressional Contact Leadership Team. However, a person can do both.
Act today and contact AHI and get involved in the interests of the U.S.
Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury