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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

7 Dec 1942;DC,Turkey&Cyprus;"Our Greek Friends";Hellenism conf.;Saakashvili's proposal;Kirill,Mt.Athos;Orthodoxy&Roman Papacy

*Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 7 December 1942* FROM OUR NAVAL CORRESPONDENT - A disclosure of the exact damage done to the United States Pacific Fleet by the treacherous Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour a year ago provides the world with an answer to the question asked so often last spring, "What is the American fleet doing?" It is now obvious that an entire battle squadron was rendered temporarily incapable of action by that attack and, although the long-term results of the treachery were slight, the immediate effect on the campaign in the Pacific was to give the Japanese that freedom of movement by sea which was essential to their plan of territorial conquest throughout Greater East Asia. Half the total American battleship strength was out of action and the other half was employed elsewhere on tasks that could not be neglected. For one thing, the Atlantic front, which had been effectively held by the British Navy, needed strengthening for there had arisen other urgent calls on Britain. The Prince of Wales and Repulse had been sent East. The Barham had been lost to our Mediterranean strength. An Indian Ocean Battle Fleet had to be built up against possible emergencies — which developed as we know. The addition of an American task force of considerable strength to our Home Fleet in Northern Europe was a primary need. It came over under Admiral Giffen. For the time being any opposition by sea to the Japanese adventures in the East Indies had to be entrusted to such light forces of the United Nations as could be mustered in the area. These were overwhelmed in the early months, but they made the Japanese pay a heavy price among their own light craft and by so doing contributed to the gradual change in the position there. The effect of those battles round the Dutch East Indian islands last spring is being seen today in the repeated inability of the Japanese to win freedom of movement for their reinforcements to the Solomons and to New Guinea. The position in the Pacific in December, 1942, wears a very different aspect for the Japanese than did that which arose immediately after Pearl Harbour. They have gained vast areas of territory but had their naval strength reduced by half. The American Navy moves again in full strength, whereas Japanese resources are not great enough to replace all the lost aircraft-carriers, cruisers and destroyers that have been expended during the year on glittering adventures. The Japanese grasped the shadow of land conquest and are threatened with the loss of that sea control which is the sole defence of an island power.

Seeing Cyprus again after an absence of more than a decade causes a renewed sense of sadness. Although most Americans are unaware of the situation, an ugly, militarized dividing line still runs down the center of that unfortunate country more than 36 years after Turkey’s invasion. The desolate, UN-patrolled “buffer zone” in the heart of the capital, Nicosia, resembles a Mediterranean version of the Cold War’s Berlin Wall. An even more appalling sight exists in the port city of Famagusta, once the leading resort destination in Cyprus—and, indeed, in the entire eastern Mediterranean. Since 1974, the Turkish army of occupation has fenced-off a portion of the city, including the principal tourist hotels along the beach, and refused to allow the Greek Cypriot owners to return. Strangely, though, the Turks never took over operation of that area themselves. Instead, they have preserved it as a “ghost city.” Looking at blocks and blocks of empty high rises (most now with their windows broken out) is a truly spooky experience. Turkey’s appalling behavior in occupied Cyprus (which is 37 percent of the island) raises the inevitable question of the extent (if any) of America’s culpability. After all, Turkey is a fellow NATO member, and U.S. leaders have always asserted that NATO stands for the preservation of peace and the rule of law. Yet at a minimum, Washington looked the other way in 1974 while its ally invaded and occupied a neighboring country. And in the decades since then, U.S. criticism of Turkey’s behavior (which includes the systematic desecration of Christian churches in the occupied territory) has been, at best, perfunctory. Privately, policymakers in both Republican and Democratic administrations argue that the United States has little alternative, since Turkey is a pivotal power in its region and a crucial U.S. security partner. That attitude illustrates the dilemma that Cato foreign policy analyst Malou Innocent and I are exploring in a book that we’re writing, Dubious Partners: Washington’s Authoritarian Allies and American Values. It focuses on the willingness of the world’s leading capitalist democracy to make common cause with regimes that are neither capitalist nor democratic. That situation was most evident during the Cold War when the U.S. supported such corrupt autocrats as the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, and Mobutu Sese Seko, but it is also a characteristic of U.S. policy in the so-called war on terror. Turkey does not entirely fit the profile, since it is at least a quasi democracy. But Ankara’s conduct, especially in Cyprus, is distressingly similar to that of more clearly odious allies. The underlying question is: To what extent should U.S. leaders compromise important American values in the name of protecting national security—or advancing Washington’s foreign policy objectives? Our preliminary conclusion in Dubious Partners is that U.S. officials over the decades have been far too willing to compromise—or even outright violate—those values. They have done so on numerous occasions when the stakes did not come close to justifying such a sacrifice. Washington’s failure to speak out against Turkey’s egregious behavior in Cyprus is one example (albeit, perhaps not the worst) of such moral cowardice. No one is suggesting that the United States bomb Turkey or send in the Marines to expel the invaders—although it should be noted that Washington did lead a massive military effort to punish Saddam Hussein for a similar land grab in Kuwait. One does have a right to expect that the United States will take an ethical stance in the conduct of its diplomacy. Washington has failed that basic test with respect to its policy toward Turkey on the Cyprus issue.

III. JPOST - Our Greek friends

Early Friday morning, fire-fighting planes and firefighters began pouring in from countries around the world, answering Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for help in fighting the largest forest fire it had ever known. Only hours before, the blaze claimed the lives of more than 40 people, most of them Prisons Service employees in a bus that got trapped in the flames. The first arrivals were toy-like yellow planes, sent from Greece. They flew low over the Mediterranean, scooping up seawater. Then they moved inland, pouring the water over the flames. Impressed by the speed of Athens’s response Netanyahu told reporters he “knew that the Greeks were our friends, but I didn’t realize what good friends they were.” The tragedy allowed the Greeks to prove that friendship is tested most in times of need. And prove it they did. This friendship has been cultivated at high gear over the last year, prompted by Papandreou’s change of attitude compared to previous Greek governments. It also reflects a close personal friendship that started casually when the two prime ministers dined at a Moscow restaurant in February. Papandreou met Netanyahu when the financial crisis his country is still recovering from was at its media height. Greece was the bad boy of Europe. It needed to regain its prestige, and it needed to do it fast. And in the world of international politics, nothing does that better than putting one’s name on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, advancing them, starting them, restarting or resetting them – get the Jews and the Arabs to talk peace and the world will applaud. Truth be told, Athens has a good starting point. Unlike Western EU members or the US , it has a lot of street-cred in the Arab world... The past year has seen an extraordinary flowering of ties, a love affair of sorts. The PASOK-led government of Papandreou is certainly friendlier than previous Greek administrations, but Israel also had a good reason to improve relations, namely the rapidly deteriorated ties with Turkey. Israel relies on air power for its defense and lacks the necessary airspace for training. The invitation to use Greek skies was therefore enthusiastically welcomed. But both Greece and Israel have much more in mind than defense cooperation; Athens would love to see commercial ties develop on both a private and national scale, and looks admiringly at Israel’s achievements in satellite technology, agriculture and desalination (a hot issue on the agenda of a country also experiencing the woes of global warming). Recently the Greek government initiated a series of meetings with high-ranking officials for a group of Israeli journalists to showcase the high gear bilateral ties have entered. In two separate discussions, Papandreou and Droutsas elucidated in what fields the new cooperation between Athens and Jerusalem can help both countries and the region. Papandreou admitted that Turkey’s behavior served as a catalyst for the rise in ties but emphasized that, for the benefit of the whole region, Greece would be pleased to see Israel’s relations with Ankara restored.

Over thousands of years Greek culture has spread to many foreign peoples – through language, medicine and sciences, philosophy, art and culture, archaeology, architecture and politics which Greek civilization has given to the world. Greek culture has survived from the 3rd millennium BC., when the original Hellenes first arrived in the area now known as Greece. Despite many wars, foreign occupations and other threats to its culture, Hellenism has survived. Today, however, we question its future. How will Hellenism survive in a globalised world? The paramount question is: What do we mean by the concept of Hellenism? This will be discussed by academics in the field of Greek Studies as well as members of the wider academic community. To read more about the biennial conference of the Modern Greek Studies Association, Australia and New Zealand, to be held in December 9-12, 2010, please click here.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has officially sent Georgia's peace initiatives for Abkhazia and South Ossetia to the international community, the president's spokesperson said on Tuesday. "The Georgian president has recently sent official letters to the UN Secretary General, EU and OSCE leaders, the NATO Secretary General, the U.S. president and the European Commission president and once again informed them of Georgia's peace initiatives," Manana Manjgaladze said. Saakashvili first voiced the proposal at the European Parliament session in Strasbourg in late November, saying that Georgia would "never use force to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty and will only use peaceful means to ensure the withdrawal of the occupation forces and its reunification." However, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed doubts over the statement saying that any "solemn promises" made by the Georgian leadership could be taken seriously after they are put on paper and come into legal force. Georgia and Russia fought a brief war in South Ossetia in August 2008. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states shortly after the ceasefire. Tbilisi declared them occupied territories and broken off relations with Moscow.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia plans a visit to Holy Mount Athos, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk said. "Patriarch Kirill visited Mount Athos several times as Metropolitan and fell in love with this place. He will visit Mount Athos at the first opportunity. It will be most convenient to combine this trip with his official visit to Hellas Orthodox Church which is planned in a few years to come," Metropolitan Hilarion told Interfax-Religion in an interview after his trip to Holy Mount Athos. According to him, Patriarch commissioned him to visit Mount Athos every year to maintain bilateral relations and provide any necessary assistance to Russian brethren of Mount Athos, "for conducting joint prayers and gain spiritual wealth from the treasury of the holy monastic tradition." Today, the Russian monastery of Agios Panteleimon (Saint Panteleimon) has 60 brethren. Some of them serve in New Thebaid and Xilury sketes, and metochions in Krumitsa (Athos), Constantinople and Moscow. Beside, one or two Russian monks serve in most Greek monasteries. The followers of the Russian Orthodox Church also occupy individual cells in different Athos monasteries. The total number of Russian monks does not exceed 100 people. Metropolitan Hilarion recalled that once the total number of the Russian monks in Athos had reached two thousand, and even five thousand including pilgrims and people working in monasteries, but "the tragic events of the 20th century dealt a heavy blow on the Russian Athos. The Russian Church is aware of its commitment to maintain the Russian monastery of Agios Panteleimon, and the monastery represents the Russian Orthodox faith in Mount Athos," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

Among the issues that continue to divide the Catholic Church from the Orthodox Church—the two largest Christian bodies in the world, together comprising well over a billion faithful—the question of the papacy is widely acknowledged to be the most significant stumbling block to their unification. For nearly forty years, commentators, theologians, and hierarchs, from popes and patriarchs to ordinary believers of both churches, have acknowledged the problems posed by the papacy. In Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity, Adam A. J. DeVille offers the first comprehensive examination of the papacy from an Orthodox perspective that also seeks to find a way beyond this impasse, toward full Orthodox-Catholic unity. He first surveys the major postwar Orthodox and Catholic theological perspectives on the Roman papacy and on patriarchates, enumerating Orthodox problems with the papacy and reviewing how Orthodox patriarchates function and are structured. In response to Pope John Paul II’s 1995 request for a dialogue on Christian unity, set forth in the encyclical letter Ut Unum Sint, DeVille proposes a new model for the exercise of papal primacy. DeVille suggests the establishment of a permanent ecumenical synod consisting of all the patriarchal heads of Churches under a papal presidency, and discusses how the pope qua pope would function in a reunited Church of both East and West, in full communion. His analysis, involving the most detailed plan for Orthodox-Catholic unity yet offered by an Orthodox theologian, could not be more timely. Adam A. J. DeVille is assistant professor of theology at the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana. “In Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity, not only does Adam A. J. DeVille give a historical and theological background to the thorny problem of the papacy in ecumenical dialogue; he also outlines what a reintegrated Church would look like by suggesting a way the papacy could function. Taking what both Orthodox and Catholic ecumenists have said, he paints a practical portrait of a unified Church. This is a novel and important contribution," said David Fagerberg of the University of Notre Dame.