Sunday, 29 May 2011

Britain and the expansion of the Greek state

Many thanks to the friend who sent me a copy of Robert Holland and Diana Markides’ The British and the Hellenes: Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850-1960; which, the last couple of days, I’ve finally found some time to read. The book is very good  and covers, albeit essentially from the British perspective, Anglo-Greek relations as they developed in the post-Napoleonic period through the Eastern Question, the two World Wars and post-colonialism, in which circumstances prevailed that meant Britain had a powerful say in the futures of the Ionian islands, Crete, Cyprus and the Dodecanese. 

Many things are revealed by the book: notably, how, apart from the Venizelos-Lloyd George entente, British and Greek interests – or the interests of a conservative superpower and an aspiring regional one – often collided and that the union of the Ionian islands, Crete and the Dodecanese with Greece was done in the teeth of British opposition and was not some ineluctable or organic process, but a combination of local Greek fortitude, a whole host of arbitrary factors and decisions and a passing alignment with the strategic imperatives of foreign powers.

The unwillingness of enough Greeks to submit or compromise their identity and national aspirations comes across strongly – and was something that exasperated the British; but, sadly, as in the Cyprus case, the fervour and willpower of the Greek periphery for enosis was often not enough to overcome a hesitant Greek state, Greece’s inferior strategic position and its reliance on the acquiescence of more powerful nations to achieve Greek goals. Modern Greece’s failures appear to be rooted in this inability to seize control, as much as is possible in these matters, of its own destiny.

22 comments:

Hermes said...

Very good comment. The role of the British in stifling Hellenism’s unfinished 1821 revolution is more pervasive than we think. The following video by Karabelias http://www.ardin.gr/node/4286 on the very nascent independence movement in Crete (for all of Karabelias’s excesses this is a good video to watch) also suggests that Britain never accepted the expanding Greek state even after parts of it were reunited. The statements by CM Woodhouse in the video, a well recognized writer of books on Greek history and British spy, to Cretan fighter Bandouvas, about Cretan independence during WWII, are truly shocking but also shows that the British never relinquished their desire to control the axis stretching from Gibraltar-Malta-Crete-Cyprus towards the Middle East. Let's not forget the Soviet designs as well. In fact, this axis is today co-managed with the Americans, making it an Anglo-American geopolitical axis. Professor Ioannis Mazis has written extensively on this. When people understand the importance of this axis to Anglo-American strategic interests, and the axis stretching from the Black Sea through the Aegean and then Cyprus, it becomes easier to understand Anglo-American machinations i.e. the Annan Plan, the AOZ, Thrace, against Greece. Unfortunately, there are enough Greeks in Greece and Cyprus willing to ignore Anglo-American designs or simply go along with them, that resistance in Greece has been almost irrevocably weakened. Also, the cultural war by Greeks and foreigners against Hellenic national sentiments has been incredibly effective in making the Greek people a compliant one. It is becoming increasingly common; particularly, with the economic crisis and the government of AKEL, to hear young Greeks from Cyprus deny any Greek identity - they are simply Greek speaking.

By the way, Christofias was in Sydney this past weekend. I am waiting for hear reports of his visit to the local Greek Cypriot club.

lastgreek said...

“The Greek people are anarchic and difficult to tame. For this reason we must strike deep into their cultural roots: perhaps then we can force them to conform. I mean, of course, to strike at their language, their religion, their cultural and historical reserves, so that we can neutralize their ability to develop, to distinguish themselves, or to prevail; thereby removing them as an obstacle to our strategically vital plans in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.”

I don't need to tell you people who the hell said this, do I?

John Akritas said...

Karabelias' conspiracy theory on Crete is one of his better ones – Holland and Markides make the point that Crete was in certain British circles regarded as a more attractive strategic asset than Cyprus – and I like the Montenegro analogy. Not sure about this Gibraltar-Malta-Crete-Cyprus axis. Not convinced by this type of geopolitical thinking, although it's growing on me, particularly the idea of immutable, diachronic national interests, and there is definitely an attempt to neutralise Greek sovereignty – do away with the Greek state in Cyprus (the Annan Plan); Thrace; Greek islands becoming nothing more than summer playgrounds of northern Europeans; desire to internationalise/de-Hellenise Thessaloniki (see this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2011/may/29/greece-thessaloniki-culture) and so on.

And it is striking, LG, how recalcitrant Greeks were – particularly from the Ionian islands and Crete – how they practically made their countries ungovernable for the British; sometimes it appears that the British handed over the Heptanesia and acquiesced to Cretan enosis because they just got fed up with the locals, who were utterly impervious to British 'virtues' and Pax Britannica.

John Akritas said...

Just to illustrate how precarious the expansion of Greece was, I was struck by the revelation in Holland and Markides' book that during the 2WW the British were quite keen to offer Rhodes to the Turks as an incentive to them to join the Allies and even tried to get the Turks interested in the Dodecanese after the war, but found that the Turks weren't that interested; they were more concerned with protecting their border against the Soviets in the east. The British were more successful later in rousing the Turks over Cyprus, although, again, initially, the Turks weren't keen to get involved.

lastgreek said...

Btw, the "vase" is the Eurymedon Vase.

Have a look :-)

http://www.mkg-hamburg.de/mkg.php/en/sammlungen/antike/~P7/

You see? This is the way it should always be for the Greeks: Greeks doing the chasing and -- and not the other way around!

John Akritas said...

It's also worth pointing out that it wasn't just Britain whose interests and policies collided with Greece's; countries such as France, Italy and Russia have held positions just as harmful to Greece post-1821 and Italy's occupation of the Dodecanese was more repressive than the British occupation of the Heptanesia. Italy's policies involved strict colonisation and Italianisation and we won't go into France and Italy's roles in the Asia Minor Catastrophe. And, of course, the pro-Ottoman Germans were virulently anti-Greek – a fact that encouraged a Greco-British entente. But, basically, they're all against us.

lastgreek said...

... and Italy's occupation of the Dodecanese was more repressive than the British occupation of the Heptanesia.

I guess in the nearby islands, too. On the island of Sifnos, for example, I noticed a lot of "Greek" names with the root "Frantze-"; even their accents I found to be noticeably different from the Peloponnesian I am used to. But then again, I am picky :-)

But, basically, they're all against us.

Some trivia: In Xenephon's Anabasis, we are told that the Armenians were helpful and friendly to the Greeks. That was then. Now other than that example, I can't think of another one -- so, yeah, "they're all against us."

Hermes said...

Thanks for The Guardian article, John. It is so interesting how the campaign against our interests is fought in travel sections of a newspaper. Boutaris is a criminal of the lowest kind. He insulted the Pontian Greeks and all of Hellenism. Personally, I lack a Christian consciousness; however, I am fully in support of Anthimos and quite like listening to his sermons. I am not sure if Boutaris and his ilk know this, but they are driving people like me back to the Church.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52darKphkVI

lastgreek said...

The following comment to the youtube link above sums it up pretty well:

the Greeks have been stopping waves over waves of barbaric tribes through the ages, from 2,500 b.c to 1453 with the fall of the Byzantine empire. Well, now the German, British and French politicians who have been patronizing the Turks all through the 20th century can s**** my d***. It's exactly how the monkey in the video said ''here Turkay... "

However, along with "German, British and French politicians," I would have also added Greek politicians to the list.

Anonymous said...

There are some gems in there, lastgreek.

For the sake of justice and equality, a barbarian invader's opinion should be aired here, too:

"Ridiculous! Why must TURKS integrate in German society? Germans must integrate in Turkish society! If you don't want to you're a neonazi and should be executed!
Turkish2023 4 months ago"

My personal favourite, from someone clearly not enamoured with Muslim Turks:

"...GTFO of Europe, shut the fuck up, read a goddamned history book.
PaleBunnyBaconEater 3 months ago"

It just seems to make so much sense.

One could argue --as many have-- that the Germans had this coming, that they've got what they deserved. I'm glad, however, that their people probably won't suffer 1/1000th of what we and others had to go through in those dark years under Ottoman oppression.(Not forgetting those that suffered thereafter.)

lastgreek said...

George Papandreou and the other dickhead George Papaconstantinou must be arrested and tried for treason against the Greek state. If the Greek police refuse to carry out the arrest, then the Greek people have no choice but to carry out a citizens' arrest.

If found guilty -- make no mistake, folks, this is not hyperbole on my part; the evidence is damning -- life in prison without parole ... and confiscation of all their assets. Personally, I'd rather see them hang and have the Greek state spared the expense of keeping them in prison.

lastgreek said...

I'll talk about Papandreou's fraudelent scheme later, but now I want you guys to think about this: Why do we here, and I presume the "we" here are mostly Greeks who don't live in Greece but are of 1st or 2nd generation Greeks living abroad ... why do we care more about what happens in Greece than the Greek government? (or the Greeks of Greece?)

Worry about the Turks? The Turks are the least of Greece's problems right now!

lastgreek said...

Seen in front of the "Greek" parliament today ...

ΚΛΕΦΤΕΣ, ΚΟΥΦΑΛΕΣ, ΕΡΧΟΝΤΑΙ ΚΡΕΜΑΛΕΣ

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/postcards-greece-0

John Akritas said...

That's just demagoguery and lynch mob mentality, LG. Greeks should grow up. The Greek debt in 2010 was US$454.69 billion. There are 300 Greek MPs – and if we exclude the 20 or so from KKE, who appear to lead quite spartan lives; that would mean that each MP is personally responsible for US$1.62 billion of debt. So either the Greek people were asleep while all this money was being 'stolen' or they had their hands in the till too. All these 'indignants' are hypocrites; making out they're model citizens all of a sudden. Maybe they are model citizens – but then they would be in a small minority of Greeks.

Hermes said...

The KKE MPS are also responsible for the debt because their statist economic policies and patronage system favouring infallible "working" man have contributed to Greece's massive government debt.

I am not sure what to make of these Indignant protests. The presence of the Greek flag is encouraging and new formations are a good thing; however, the economic proposals of some of the leaders (if one can glean something from their rhetoric) are the type that got us here in the first place.

Hermes said...

This is one of the "leaders" of the Aganaktismenoi. If her views represent their views then I definitely want out!!

http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2011/06/blog-post_4468.html

Hermes said...

This is what someone wrote in the comments section of the above link:

Πρόκειται για ένα ακόμη παιδάκι από αυτά που διδάσκονται από τις "ξύπνιες" και "κατάλληλα δικτυωμένες" οικογένειές τους πώς να χτίσουν πολιτική καριέρα στην πλάτη του Ελληνικού λαού, μαθαίνοντας να μιλούν από 12 ετών σαν συνδικαλιστές, να έχουν πάντα δίκιο και τσαμπουκά, να πετούν μολότωφ στις συγκεντρώσεις ή να πλασσάρονται ως καλά κουστουμαρισμένα παιδάκια καλών οικογενειών (για να γίνουν βουλευτές της αριστεράς ή της δεξιάς αντίστοιχα)...

Αυτό το φαινόμενο έχει καταντήσει αηδία!!!

Perfect!

John Akritas said...

When the 'indignants' turn up outside the offices of GENOP/DEH and all the other acronyms that have gorged on Greece, and demand that these people deserve the rope, then I'll be impressed.
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_21/04/2011_388368

lastgreek said...

That's just demagoguery and lynch mob mentality.

Sadly, it as the only true democracy in Greece right now.

Greeks should grow up.

No question, J. The Greeks have to start living within their means. But I don't understand -- shouldn't bankers who are basically just as responsible for this mess (remember: for every reckless borrower there is a reckless lender) also grow up?

Mind you, show me a country that spends about 5% of its GDP on the military ... and I'll show you an insolvent country.

Did you guys hear about the credit default scandal in Greece? If those allegations -- which involve the Greek government and its cronies -- are true, then nothing short of a French-style, off-with-their-heads revolution will do.

Hermes said...

LG, do you read Yanis Varoufakis on the Greek economy? I am not sure about some of his prescriptions but he is relatively original. He writes a lot in English. He also taught in Sydney many years ago...

http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/

I also enjoy reading Gregory Jusdanis's blog. He wrote the excellent Necessary Nation. His latest piece which was also published in the Athens Review of Books is a good read...

http://arcade.stanford.edu/baby-were-so-provincial

lastgreek said...

Hi, H ... sorry for the late reply ... summer :-)

No, I haven't read any of Varoufakis' writings. I do on occasion read Kyriakos Tombras.

Btw, here is the link to an article on the latest Greek financial scandal: G-Pap, via Hellenic Post Bank, buying credit default swaps (insurance) against its own default! The allegation was made by ND MP Panos Kammenos.

http://www.sovereignindependent.com/?p=21184