Has the U.S. State Department Capitulated to Communist Propaganda?
An Editorial by Publishers Christos and Mary Papoutsy
Even though U.S. governmental officials have stated that they will abide by decisions reached by FYROM and Greece in future negotiations over the name of this country, it seems quite unlikely now that there will be any change in the new status brought about by the recognition. State department officials politely received Archbishop Demetrios and other representatives of major Greek-American organizations who wished to lodge their protests, but the answer was a "diplomatic 'nyet.'" Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman told the delegation that the issues between Greece and FYROMians over territory within the borders of northern Greece stemmed from incidents a "long time ago," as it had been reported to us, implying that any actions in such a remote past really didn't affect the realities of today.
Well, Mr. Undersecretary, I beg to differ. In fact, I think that it's time you and other career State Department officials attended some in-services in European history or on the American founding principles of freedom and equality. Maybe taxpaying Americans would be better served by career officers in the Foreign Service and the state department if they had to follow a system of obtaining yearly continuing education credits like many public school teachers. Under this plan, any federal employee who didn't obtain enough credits at the end of the year would be placed on probation. That way, there might be some sort of accountability to the American public in the actions of the State Department. Doublespeak and support of anti-American ideas would result in immediate loss of all credits accrued and probably swift dismissal under my proposal. Now, that's a real policy based on the good, old-fashioned American concept of advancement through merit. But I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of any such changes. For I have observed that there is an entrenchment of career bureaucrats at the State Department, with many holdovers from previous administrations. And I believe that such entrenchment has resulted in many persistent foreign policy errors in the last few decades, particularly in southeastern Europe.
Let's take a look at the score-card of the U.S. State Department with respect to Greece, now the indisputable hub of southeastern Europe. Since we've already mentioned the FYROM misstep, let's move backward in time. Take Kosovo. Greeks protested loudly and vociferously against U.S. bombing in Serbia. Why? They were better informed about the full ramifications of the short-sighted U.S. policy vis-à-vis the Muslim Albanian terrorists who had been quickly relabeled freedom fighters and who had been agitating in the Balkans for quite some time. Did I actually use the word "agitating?" I guess that I did. Perhaps I should have said "waging terror." Because that's just what they did. They crossed over borders and waged terror in order to gain a firm hold on territories in other lands. Surely you can understand this picture, Mr. Undersecretary, because that's exactly what's going on now in Iraq. There are Muslim terrorists crossing borders and "wreaking havoc" in Fallujah, Ramadi, Baghdad and other Iraqi cities. Just so in the Balkans. Al Quaeda, as Greece had already been reporting in its newspapers, had set up camp in Muslim Albania. In fact, there are some Washington specialists who maintain that Osama bin Laden has visited Albania. (It would be a great place for him to hide.) When Washington bureaucrats fell for the terrorists' bait, they started to "agitate" in other Balkan countries, realizing that they could destabilize them, having the ear of Washington, and eventually take them over. Isn't that what's happening now in "Macedonia?" And isn't that why the U.S. doesn't want to see a break-up of "Macedonia" into separate states? For if little "Macedonia" breaks up, of course the Muslim Albanian minority there would clamor to join with Albania into a Greater Albania. Isn't that what has now happened because of a persistently faulty U.S. foreign policy in this area? Don't I have my facts correct? The U.S. bombed southern Serbia ostensibly because of the massacre of "hundreds of thousands" of "ethnic" Kosovars, when the reality has proven to be the killing of a few thousand. U.S. bureaucrats fell for the terrorist bait. Can you see that this would upset Greece because millions of Albanian refugees in Greece might now "agitate" for autonomy and perhaps even for union with Albania? Given the history of the Balkans and the fact that this very sort of warfare is ongoing there, couldn't you see the validity of Greece's concerns? What more proof of these expansionist aims would you want than the usurping of Greek history by the so-called "Macedonians"? (I would refer you to any one of the articles about this topic on HCS.) What more proof is needed than this country would dare to take as its symbol something that has represented Greek history for three thousand years? What more proof is needed than this country would dare to put a Greek national symbol on its currency or its flag? Don't those actions refute your dismissive remarks that it all happened "a long time ago"? Why did you not tell the "Macedonians" that Tito's communist propaganda was "a long time ago" and that they had to face reality and abandon such outmoded thinking?
Let's continue our journey back into time, to the mid-1970's, another pivotal point in failed U.S. foreign policy, the Cyprus debacle. Thanks to the U.S., Turkey invaded a small, sovereign, independent country, one without any national defense. The Turks overran one-third of the island which they continue to occupy today, in repeated violation of U.N. resolutions, an invasion fueled illegally with U.S. armaments. Now, in case you may have forgotten why the case of Cyprus might be of interest to Greece, let me refresh your memory. The greatest majority of the population of Cyprus-preinvasion-was Greek. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced illegally from their homes and land by the invasion. Sixteen hundred people were massacred outright by the Turks, a fact that only in fairly recent years has been verified by Turkish officials. And a handful of American citizens were also killed. Now, those numbers appear to me to be similar in magnitude to the ones suffered by "ethnic" Albanians in Kosovo. So, if that's the case, as people of Greece might wonder, why didn't the U.S. come to the aid of the Greek-speaking Cypriots at the time of the invasion? And why, now thirty years later, has the U.S. still done nothing to rectify this terrible injustice? Why instead has the U.S. taken the side of the Turkish aggressors, as it appears to me and to most others interested in this issue? Greece has generously tried to absorb much of the impact and hardship caused by this faulty U.S. foreign policy by accepting refugees and guaranteeing them education at state universities. What has the U.S. done to help them? Well, even though, Mr. Undersecretary, it was "a long time ago," don't you think that the terrible effects of this invasion are still being felt by a significant portion of the Greek-speaking population? Many of these people have relatives on mainland Greece, people who would also be affected by this invasion, people who would also still experience the effects of this invasion. Can you see, Mr. Undersecretary, how past history continues to affect and shape current history? Or is that a notion that is no longer fashionable-or expedient--among Washington bureaucrats?
Let's continue our journey back into time, to the 60's, to the time of the military dictatorship in Greece. The U.S. is perceived by Greeks as having supported this military junta. To the Greeks, this group of army generals was fascist dictators. But they couldn't have achieved power unless they were recognized and supported by the U.S. and other major world powers. Do you understand, Mr. Undersecretary, that there were many Greek patriots who were jailed and exiled under this regime? Do you know that people who disagreed with this regime disappeared, never to be heard from again? Don't you think that the involvement of the American CIA, which is what the average Greek today understands, has left Greece bitter, a country that was our solid ally in World Wars I and II? Has the U.S. ever expressed regret for its support of the junta? I know that these actions were "a long time ago," Mr. Undersecretary, but can you understand that the terrible effects of this dictatorship are still being felt today by many people in Greece? By the relatives of those jailed or killed? By those who had to flee the country and lost decades of their lives and enjoyment of their property in Greece? What do we say to the surviving relatives of those who were killed? That it was "a long time ago?"
Let's continue our journey back into time, to the 20's, Mr. Undersecretary. I know that you have said that this was "a long time ago," but this, too, is a pivotal period in the history of the Balkans. After the defeat of Greece's forces in Asia Minor-and I won't even elaborate on the massive genocidal massacres of Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek Christians by Muslim Turks-nearly one million refugees swarmed into Greece. I know that this was "a long time ago," Mr. Undersecretary, but it's important to understand that these refugees were thrust into extreme poverty for decades, whole villages from Asia Minor. Their descendants still talk about the betrayal of their relatives and ancestors by the Great Powers, particularly the U.S. Why did the U.S. look the other way when these poor, blameless Christians were being slaughtered by Muslim extremists because of their religion and ethnicity? Why does the U.S. persist in denying recognition of these genocides and making victims anew of the families of these poor souls? This wound runs deep, Mr. Undersecretary. I know that it was "a long time ago," but it's as traumatic to these people as the Jewish Holocaust of World War II is to Jewish survivors and descendants of victims. And I haven't yet met anyone who dismissed these terrible crimes against humanity by saying that they happened "a long time ago." In fact, Mr. Undersecretary, in case you have forgotten, these genocides served as precedents for Hitler's attempt to exterminate Jews. Don't' you remember that he justified his genocidal policy by saying that nobody, after all, remembered the Armenians? Here is a solid instance, Mr. Undersecretary, where something that happened "a long time ago," played a crucial role in shaping later history. And guess what? It is still shaping history, for the families of these millions of refugees (and the relatives of the millions of slaughtered Christians) remember what happened. They have been told about the abject poverty that their surviving relatives endured. And do you know what, Mr. Undersecretary? Most of these refugees from Asia Minor had come from a wealthy and educated merchant class, an urbane and cultured group of people who lost everything when they fled their homes in Asia Minor. Did you know, Mr. Undersecretary, that their ancestors had lived in Asia Minor for over three thousand years before finally being pushed out by Muslim extremists? That their ancestors founded many of the cities on the coast of Asia Minor? They remember it all, Mr. Undersecretary, every time an entrenched Washington bureaucrat attempts to prevent recognition of these genocides and the history of their people. It leaves them bitter. And it shapes their attitude about the U.S. And that, Mr. Undersecretary, affects U.S. relations with other countries and peoples.
Let's continue back in time a little further, Mr. Undersecretary, to the first decade of the twentieth century. I know that it was "a long time ago," but this was a significant period for all of Europe-and even for the U.S. Remember World War I, Mr. Undersecretary? Do you remember the Balkan Wars that immediately preceded World War I? That's when Turkey lost European land because the Christian subjects of the Sublime Porte had finally suffered enough at the hands of Muslim extremists. The two Balkan Wars resulted in new borders in the region. That's rather significant, Mr. Undersecretary, since it required the redrawing of European maps. The effects of these wars are still being felt today. I know that it seems like "a long time ago," but there are actually people still alive who remember being freed by these wars. I would say that these peoples who gained freedom would not dismiss this history as something rather irrelevant, as something that happened "a long time ago," Mr. Undersecretary.
We need not restrict our examples of the effects of past history to events in Greece, Mr. Undersecretary. Our own nation, the U.S., could furnish adequate examples. Even though the U.S. Civil War took place over 100 years ago, there are many people in the U. S. who would say that the effects of this conflict are still being felt even today. Take the case of African-Americans, Mr. Undersecretary, who are descendants of slaves. I feel quite sure that they would say that the winning of the war by the North was pivotal to the freedom of their ancestors. We could even turn to our Native American friends and compatriots for examples of the present effects of past events. The near-extermination of many tribes by the U.S. government has had a profound effect on them and their relationship with the U.S. government, wouldn't you say, Mr. Undersecretary? Or take the case of the American Revolutionary War-we wouldn't just dismiss it as something that happened "a long time ago," would we?
Or how about the involvement of the U.S. in World War II? My own father fought alongside many proud U.S. veterans to combat fascism and communism in the 40's and 50's. Yes, indeed, some American soldiers have actually fought against communists. And-just in case they forgot to cover this chapter about southern European history at your alma mater-some of those important battles were fought right in Greece. You see, after the withdrawal of German occupation forces from Greece, the U.S. became actively involved in combating communism there. As I had mentioned above, American taxpayers expended enormous amounts of money and manpower in combating this ideology. So many lives were lost there and throughout Europe. This period in history may have been "a long time ago," as you say, but, just like the others, it affected every single person who lived then, altering the course of history for all time. So, Mr. Undersecretary, when you tell us that it was all "a long time ago," how can we believe you? How can any rational person believe your expediently dismissive remarks?
Let me try to draw an analogy for you, Mr. Undersecretary. Let's suppose-and I'll beg forgiveness from my Hispanic friends for using this example-that the people of Cuba decided upon a democracy after the death of Fidel Castro. Our many Cuban expatriates living in south Florida might then decide to "unite" with Cuba and secede from Florida. What a mess that would be! But I can easily imagine that the U.S. federal government would never permit such a thing. I could envision U.S. troops or national guardspeople called in to put down civil unrest. But of course, once a group of people "agitate" for secession, it's difficult to change this mindset. Imagine that in the midst of this conflict, Cuba issued currency that showed a picture of St. Augustine, Florida, and a flag that resembled the Florida state flag. How do you imagine that Americans in other parts of the country, or even in Washington, would interpret these actions on the part of Cuba? Don't you understand that these actions would be viewed as incendiary? Wouldn't these actions suggest conflict rather than peaceful behavior? Well, apply this analogy to Greece and FYROM and you may begin to understand what Greek-speaking peoples feel about the situation there. And don't forget that a bloody Civil War in Greece has already been fought against the communists over this issue. The Greeks, unlike some of the entrenched bureaucrats in Washington, remember very clearly what has happened. They know that this land, now formally called FYROM by the U.N., was never called "Macedonia" until Tito implemented his expansionist communist propaganda "a long time ago." This name, "Republic of Macedonia," represents a complete capitulation to his propaganda machine. So many people-upwards of a 100,000-lost their lives over this issue. But their people still remember, Mr. Undersecretary, and their behavior is affected by this recollection.
Perhaps, then, Mr. Undersecretary, you should stop saying that these things happened such a "long time ago." Because, you see, you've lost credibility with many more people than just this one writer. Who can believe you and your colleagues?
(Posted 10 November 2004)
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