It is high time to transform Hellenism into a proactive power: How to build a strategy

File Photo: Το αμερικανικό Κογκρέσο. CNA, ΚΥΠΕ

By Alexander Drivas (*)

Hellenic Mythology holds undoubtedly, too much wisdom. How we could correlate Hellenic foreign policy with the Mythology of our ancestors? There is a story about two brothers who unfortunately had very different characteristics between them. Prometheus and Epimetheus.

The first one had preemptive merits and he could prevent crises and problems. To some extent, Prometheus was a God of strategic thinking. On the contrary, his brother Epimetheus, had the bad habit to not think enough before he acts. He always was running after the evolutions. He was the God of reaction and his brother Prometheus was the God of prevention. Will Hellas choose the right God in the next decade regarding its foreign policy? Why Hellenism should be proactive and how?

  • An essential issue to adopt a rational and coherent strategy is nothing else than prioritizing. The separation between goals and instruments was always the first merit regarding strategic shaping. After that, all the priorities fall into place. Firstly, it is essential to have a specific plan in black and white. The example of the National Security Strategy (NSS) of the USA would show the right way for Hellas, to build up an accurate and rational procedure regarding its foreign and defense policy. The NSS is an official document written by the executive branch of the American government and addresses to Congress. The existential purpose of this document is no other but to unfold and define the main American concerns towards foreign policy and defense.

As the Atlantic Council describes ”National security strategy must take into account and reinforce a nation’s values in order to appropriately prioritize threats and interests”. This document is also consisted of supporting papers and analyses such as the National Military Strategy. To sum up, the NSS has aspects of significant importance: a) To pose requests, asking legitimacy for the resources with which could be implemented the policies that are explained in the NSS. b) To create the common ground for the consensus on the main American foreign and defense policy’s issues. c) To add policies to the overall agenda of POTUS. All these contribute to the stability of American foreign and defense policy. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of differences between the Hellenic political system and the American one. But that is a matter of comparative political science.

  • The substantial message that brings the NSS’ paradigm for Hellenism is to establish mechanisms and procedures which could shape a coherent and accurate national strategy. The bipartisan consensus is also something that Hellas and Cyprus need. The East Med pipeline is a milestone without a single doubt. It results from exactly this bipartisan consensus. Four different governmental schemes came in power in Greece during the previous decade and not a single one of them changed the strategy of building up the trilateral among Hellas, Israel, and Cyprus. Continuity implies a successful strategy.

Frankly speaking, the Hellenic-American relations was the key-factor that boosted the Hellenic peripheral policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Again, it was a matter of the realistic adoption from parties that used to express anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric. As American Ambassador stressed on 5 December of 2019 during his speech, there are no longer people in the streets to blame the USA and NATO. Bipartisan consensus and realism are interdepended. To be more specific, having a Hellenic NSS eases the bipartisan consensus and reduces the so-called Putnam’s two-level game*. Apparently, there are more elements that are necessary to build a strategy that could transform the Hellenic Foreign and Defense Policy from reactive, into a proactive way. Soft Power and budgeting.

  • The part of Soft Power is an aspect of high importance in order to shape a national strategy. Hellenism is a huge brand name around the world. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to be a part of a stable and accurate national strategy. The Hellenic culture and way of life are very important to be promoted.
  • Not only for Hellas’ benefit. If we throw a careful glimpse of our region, people are needed for prosperity and peace. Using the products of technology’s revolution, Hellas and Cyprus should promote their language which is simultaneously the language that created philosophy, literature, democracy and every aspect of western spiritual and cultural life. With such usage, Hellenism could be the best icon of the benefits of adopting western values.
  • The people of Balkans, of Eastern The Mediterranean and even of the Middle East, don’t hate Hellenism. As Napoleon Bonaparte stated, in the end, the spirit is that dominates everything. We need to create a contemporary Hellenic Cultural Institute having as a prototype the Hellenic American Union, French Institute, etc.

The best practices are all around us and the advantage of our times is that we need not reinvent the wheel. Moreover, we can’t ignore the prerequisite of a coherent and proactive national strategy, which is no other than the so-called strategic willing to act and implement what we have already decided. A National Security Strategy isn’t by itself the solution. An organized plan needs to be reaffirmed and to pass feasibility tests. Everything should be calculated, using cost-benefit analysis. Achieving the veracity of our National Security Strategy in order to shape a proactive peripheral policy, means that the 5Ws – method (Why, Who, What, Where, When) and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) the analysis never gets old.

Strict budgeting is apparently essential if Hellas desires to act as a respected power in the region and wider, as a key factor in the international level, contributing to global peace. At the end of the day, what you spend is what you get in international politics. It is beyond any conversation that we prefer the precautional wisdom of Prometheus rather than Pandora’s box of Epimetheus.

(*)Putnam’s two-level game: An academic model which stresses that a decision-maker in international politics suffers from a dilemma on how to balance the interstate factors that drive him to make a rational decision,(which is according to internal politics due to having minimal political cost) which is at the same time relatively or completely irrational if we check its veracity with criteria from international politics and vice versa (when he makes a rational decision which follows the current external factors but it will cause him severe political costs inside his country).

(*) Research Fellow – HALC, Ph.D. Cand. (Hellenic-American Relations after the Cold War Era)

Is the ghost of Chamberlain still over the Hellenic and Cypriot Skies? We are thirsty for peace…

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