Greece between East and West: a survey and an historical interpretation
Manolas, Spiro Constantinos
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Greece's difficulties are not new nor entirely Greek and they became acute, from time to time, as a result of unusual circumstances. Deep problems underlie the fluctuating currents of Greek history, and the Great Powers have been party to many of Greece's difficulties, while Greece's neighbors have been instruments of Great Power machtpolitik in the Balkans. Greece's tragedy has been fourfold: first, its territory occupies the peninsula which commands an arena of intensepolitical rivalry. Second, since its creation it has been a small and poor nation occupying a strategic geographic position. Third, Greek liberation was made possible by the aid of many Powers that continued to retain their "interest" in Greece. Lastly, Greek nationalism which found fertile soil in the "Great Idea" with the belief that for survival the little kingdom had to strengthen itself economically and politically by absorbing adjacent lands. These lands, however, more often than not, were inhabited predominantly by Greeks who were faced with absorption or annihilation by a reawakening of Slavic Balkan peoples or renascent Ottoman nationalism. This situation led to a fervent and natural desire for enosis by exohellenes and the historical anagke and almost religious passion felt by the Greek Government to effect a union so long sought after and for so long desired. From the outset the Greeks were caught between East and West, for Greece's independence and later the extension of its boundaries could be realized only at the expense of Turkey and the policies of Austro-Hungary and England. For Austria, a continental Power, this meant maintenance of Metternich's "consecrated structure"; for England, an insular Power, it meant maintenance of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire since its dissolution would not only disrupt the equilibrium of Europe but its dismemberment would remove the last substantial political bulwark to Russian expansion. It is not surprising that Castlereagh could set aside his doctrine of noninterference in the Greek issue since, as in the Lowlands, its application would have threatened British interests. At the same time, Greece could expect little from Russia, for concessions from that quarter, notwithstanding the Tsarist ruse of protecting co-religionists would be at the expense of PanSlavism and Tsarist expansion. Furthermore, being non "Catholic," Greece could expect no sympathy from Catholic powers. Finally, her early boundaries, like most boundaries in the Near East, reflected neither a political nor an economic necessity but were drawn to guarantee weakness and rivalry and became an object of power politics. This inherent situation has brought Greece periodic chastisements and unsolicited transgressions by the Great Powers with serious effects on her domestic life as well as her inter-national position. Historically, Austria-Hungary, England, France, and Germany, individually or in collusion, had prevented Russian domination of the Balkans and the Near East; but recent history proved more favorable to the Soviet Union until Soviet designs against Greece and Turkey after World War II forced the United States to take a series of decisive actions best described as the "Truman Doctrine" which caused international Communism to suffer in Greece its first and only major defeat in the post-war period. As a result, Greece found a new protector in the United States, but at the same time fell more securely into the Western orbit. In 1841, Sir Edmund Lyons, the British Minister to Athens, made the prophetic statement, "A Greece truly independent is an absurdity. Greece is Russian or she is English; and since she must not be Russian, it is necessary that she be English." In 1947, the Truman Doctrine reaffirmed this dictum with the modification that since Greece cannot be English, it is necessary that she be "American."
Thesis (Ph.D.)—-Boston University.
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