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Where Have We Gone Wrong?

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.hellenicnews.com/readnews.html?newsid=7709&lang=US 2007 Hellenic News of America, Inc. Where Have We Gone Wrong? By Marcus A. Templar
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2007

      2007 Hellenic News of America, Inc.

      Where Have We Gone Wrong?

      By Marcus A. Templar

      Greek-Americans cannot explain what happened to
      the effective lobby we used to have. Some believe
      we have lost political influence and others that
      we have lost effectiveness. One could consider
      both assumptions as being not viable;
      nevertheless, it is a fact. The well-known
      powerful lobby of the old times is not powerful after all.

      I however, believe we have lost effectiveness,
      not political influence. We have political
      influence in the polls, but we are not effective
      as a group, as power brokers, simply because we
      are not organized. Simultaneously, Albanians,
      Slavs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of
      Macedonia (The FYROM), Turks, and others have
      gained effectiveness and they keep demonstrating
      that they can play better hardball than we can.
      These ethnic groups have learned on how to play
      the game. They have received support from the
      U.S. government under a dual formula; they have
      persuaded the American public and through it U.S.
      politicians that their old country is
      strategically important to the United States and
      its interests; if this does not work, they play
      the victim card. Some of them can do both and
      thusly they have made it for the duration.

      The change of the Greek Orthodox Church a few
      years ago upgrading the local Metropolitans to
      Archbishops is a de facto downgrade of our
      effectiveness, since we have lost our real power,
      the only unifying factor, the Church. Perhaps,
      the power that Archbishop Iakovos had accumulated
      was bad for the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
      objecting that one single person had become too
      powerful. It proved however, that the decision
      was misguided because under the current world
      political climate a unified Hellenism could be a
      deterrent to Turkey's unchecked appetite and
      constant bullish attitude and to the Slavic, or
      even Albanian farsighted strategic designs against Greece.

      The above ethnic groups have their old homeland's
      governments' full albeit silent support
      regardless of who governs. On the contrary, Greek
      politicians taking advantage of the vacuum in our
      unified leadership have preyed on the phylarchy
      of unconsciously incompetent self-proclaimed
      "leaders" of our Diaspora in order to advance
      their party politics at the expense of Greece's
      strategic security and political stability. They
      simply divide the Hellenic Diaspora instead of
      amalgamating it. A good example is the creation
      of SAE. Other countries had established such
      organizations in the '80s and their activities
      differ from political to cultural. The formation
      of SAE started very well until partisan politics
      deemed more important than Hellenic national
      issues. It has become a tool of successive Greek
      governments, and because of it, it is ineffective.

      The aforementioned self-proclaimed phylarchs are
      concurrently irresponsible. They are the ones who
      signed a document relieving former President
      Clinton from his pledge not to recognize the
      FYROM, but they think they are not at fault,
      since they abode with the Greek government's
      request. It is "the devil made me do it" defense.
      If they are not responsible for their actions,
      what kind of leadership do they provide?
      Leadership is a constant decision making process
      that aims to direct correct or wrong decisions. A
      real leader may not take credit for correct
      decisions, but dodge blunders. President Truman
      was very correct when he said "the buck stops
      here." Whether one likes him or dislikes him as
      President, and I do not, one has to admit that he
      demonstrated what leadership is all about.

      I blame the loss of effectiveness to the lack of
      a solid national policy of Greece. Politicians of
      Greece do not even agree as to what constitutes a
      national Hellenic issue. As the Mayor of Athens,
      Dora Bakoyanni admitted to the delegation of the
      Pan-Macedonian Association that she could not see
      the matter of Macedonia as a national issue. But
      if the potential loss of the country's most
      important province and the loss of historical,
      cultural, and linguistic heritage do not
      constitute a national issue, then what does?

      The Hellenic Diaspora in the USA being the oldest
      of all, with fourth and fifth generation
      Americans being caught in a time warp maintains,
      in my opinion, the idiosyncrasy of a 19th century
      Greek. Most of them being purely Americans,
      lacking minimal Hellenic conscience and education
      owe 100% allegiance to the United States and its
      interests; whether these interests are real or not.

      The effective influence of the above-mentioned
      ethnic groups direct the US government as to what
      it is, or it is not beneficial to her in the S.E.
      Balkans. Thus far, we have not done anything,
      because we lack direction and purpose. The
      problem is that we have to persuade the US
      Department of State and the White House, while
      fighting the Greek government at the same time.

      On the other hand, Greek politicians and even
      voters have not discovered the seriousness of
      their position. Immediately after the elections
      of 16 September 2007, Mr. Papoutsis, a
      representative of PASOK, blamed on radio the
      voters for his party's defeat, although
      everything indicated the fact that his party was
      unable to make its case to the voters. Then the
      elections for the new leader of the same party
      took place with results that did not make sense
      to me. About a month before the elections, polls
      showed that PASOK voters did not consider
      Papandreou capable to win elections against
      Karamanlis. Instead, they thought that Venizelos
      was the person that could bring PASOK to the
      government. Yet the internal PASOK elections
      brought Papandreou to leadership. Why did these
      people vote for a person that cannot, by their
      own admission, win the first political place in
      the Hellenic Parliament? Weird, isn't it!

      Athens news Agency reported that Prime Minister Karamanlis said that

      … any perception that the responsible
      parliamentary procedure, the procedure set out in
      the country's Constitution, was a process of
      "reduced democracy" was "erroneous and
      dangerous," stressing that Parliament was fully
      able to ratify a prospective agreement with FYROM
      on the name issue if such an agreement was achieved.

      The Constitution, he explained, "does not rule
      out the choice of other procedures, such as a
      referendum', adding that "it does not, however,
      gradate democratic sensitivity and responsibility."

      "If and when a final agreement arises, parliament
      can responsibly fulfill its own duty," the prime minister stressed.

      Is the Prime Minister of Greece saying that a
      referendum downgrades "democratic sensitivity and
      responsibility?" If that is the case, why then is
      it included in the Constitution of Greece? Is he
      saying that in a referendum the voters would make
      an irresponsible decision, because they are
      incompetent to choose wisely what is good for the
      national issues of Greece? If the Prime Minister
      feels this way, perhaps he could explain to all
      of us in what way the same voters have been
      competent to place him into the office of the
      Prime Minister. Alternatively, is it perhaps,
      when these same voters go to the parliamentary
      election wearing their competent brain, but when
      they proceed to vote in a referendum in a way
      that the political leadership of the country
      dislikes, they lose their brains? Perhaps one of
      you smarter than I am, could explain it to me.

      One of the most interesting facts is that the
      Greek Diaspora and the Greek governments lack
      communication. Greek politicians rely heavily on
      the Hellenic Diaspora for its lobbying in
      Washington. At the time that the FYROM, the
      Albanians, and Turks spend millions of dollars
      they do not have, the Greek government has placed
      the idea of professional lobbying in the back
      burner and only when difficult times appear, they
      want things to be happening NOW.

      They do not understand that firstly lobbying is
      not a switch one turns on or off, at will.
      Secondly, it requires a lot of money, insistence,
      and persistence, utilizing people who have
      studied public relations and communications and
      furthermore they do it as a profession. Love for
      our old country and knowledge of history are not
      enough. Understanding how the U.S. government
      works, knowing how to get access, and employing
      people who have unlimited access, as former U.S.
      Congressmen, to various U.S. government offices,
      are the fundamental pillars of lobbying.

      Our Greek –American friends have to understand
      that the need for real leadership is of utmost
      importance. We need superior persons, not
      ostentatious braggarts who consider a visit to
      the office of an U.S. official more of a photo
      opportunity than a duty to their Hellenic roots.
      We need people who surround themselves with
      experts in regional security, regional politics,
      and have an insight in the psyche of Greece's neighbors.

      Greek-Americans have lost their lobbying power
      they once had. They are equally responsible for
      this loss as the successive governments and
      politicians of the Hellenic Parliament are. They
      resemble chickens with their heads cut off
      maundering to their death. I hope someone in the
      Parliament of Greece realizes that mingling in
      the affairs of the Hellenic Diaspora is
      detrimental, not beneficial to Greece.
      Instructions coming from Greece to our Community
      on how to do things do not work in the United
      States. We understand the American people. I
      cannot say the same regarding the degree of the
      Greeks understanding their neighbors.
      Greek-Americans have to take back their rightful
      place in the U.S. politics, and they have to do it, NOW!
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