Monday, 14 May 2012

Nobody Writes Of The Colonels

There is a famous old saying that Victory has many fathers, but that Failure is an orphan. That notion is generally true, but it is different in the case of Greece. Today in Greece, failure has an untold number of papas. There is a Mr Papandreou, a Mr Papademos, a Mr Papoulias, and so on and so forth…

One such ‘paternal’ name is, however, conspicuously missing. A name which surely means nothing to most of you young folks, but which is graven into the uneasy memory of anyone over 50. That name is Papadopoulos. More fully: colonel Georgios Papadopoulos, military dictator of Greece from 1967 to 1974.

I won’t bother you young ones with too many dull history lessons. Let me just tell you this: back in 1967, faced with an economic slump and fearing a possible take-over of the government by the far left, Papadopoulos and a number of fellow colonels stages a coup d’├ętat which ushered in one of the more unpleasant military dictatorships in the post-war period.

Does all that ring a bell of some sort?

The Greek Army… Nobody writes of them, nobody speaks of them, nobody takes them much into account. And yet they may slip into the picture, rather unexpectedly, very soon. To tell the plain truth: I am completely ignorant of what the attitude of the present Greek army is. But I do know that no Mediterranean country is ever very far removed from a military coup. Some of you may shake your heads in disbelief and mutter that such a thing is Unthinkable, Alfred! Well, what can I say? I can only counter that the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent Reunification of Germany was pretty unthinkable. The caving-in of the Glorious Euro was unthinkable. The sinking of the Titanic was – guaranteed - unthinkable.

So. Now that the EU is once again bringing unparalleled prosperity and democracy to European nations; faced with a possible radical left-wing victory in the coming June elections; in combination with complete economic unravelling, and a substantial support of a neo-Nazi Greek movement (1), is it really so unthinkable that the Greek military begin to play with the notion of taking matters into their own drastic hands, ‘to save the Fatherland’ from enemies within and abroad? This time they may even bring back old King Constantine, who is still alive and kicking somewhere in London, I believe…

Let’s just hope that I am very very wrong, and that my apprehension may soon be dismissed as the nonsensical paranoia of a silly old man…

(1) Try this one on for size: in an interview in the Sunday Telegraph of 12 May, the Greek deputy PM Theodoros Pangalos pointed out that in those places where the Greek police voted, the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party did not get the usual 7 % but scored 25 % of the vote!

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