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Saturday, December 17, 2011



William Mallinson


Once more, Cyprus is on the international agenda, with the powers that be again telling the world that now is the last chance to solve the island’s problems, and the inherent threat that doom is the only alternative to agreement. That the island has been for hundreds of years a cat’s paw of competing outside powers, spitting out their fingernails of ambition onto the island, not always with happy results, is hardly open to dispute. Described by Henry Kissinger as a ‘staging-post’ and an ‘important piece of the world chequer-board’, Cyprus has for centuries been invaded, or passed from hand to hand, from English to French to Venetians to Ottoman Turks to Britain, and finally in 1960, in flawed form, to its own inhabitants, via a messy and divisive constitution. This constitution was based on positive discrimination, in favour of the Turkish Cypriots, and catered for the rights of outsiders, with almost three per cent of its territory going to Britain, along with associated rights. The treaties of 1960 that established the Republic of Cyprus were but an anachronistic extension of Britain’s colonial ethno-religious administration, dressed up in semantic sugar, but nevertheless a monkey on the back of the island’s mythical sovereignty. Few sane observers really believed that the 1960 constitution would work, particularly since the crucial question of communal boundaries in the big towns was not even agreed before independence. It took three years of bickering before the constitution collapsed in a spate of fighting and recrimination, which included the auto-ghettoisation of most of the Turkish Cypriots. Bizarrely, the collapse resulted from Foreign Office support for President Makarios’ suggested changes to the unworkable constitution. Eleven years later, following an Athens junta-inspired coup against President Makarios, Turkey invaded, and nearly all the Greek Cypriots were shoved south, becoming refugees in their own land. Even the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee wrote in 1987 that ‘the 1960 Constitution proved to be a cumbersome and frustrating instrument of government for all concerned’, while the Law Lords and Foreign Office legal advisors recognised that the Treaty of Guarantee conflicted with the UN Charter. Today the world is faced with the surrealistic situation of Turkey occupying part of the European Union, while trying itself to become a member. At present, the island’s fate seems to be divided between two main schools of thought, one partitionist, and the other integrationist. The present de facto partition looks like a historical anomaly, given that the inhabitants of the island, whether Greek-, Turkish-, Maronite- or Armenian Cypriot, had lived side by side, scattered throughout the island, for hundreds of years. Then the British came. Before demonstrating why separation is not the solution for Cyprus, and why we are at the present impasse, let us look at the phenomenon of partition itself.

The Expedient Panacea of Partition

The term ‘ partition’ is a fairly recent addition to the semantic baggage of international relations terminology, creeping into respectable academic and political language at the same as the term ‘geopolitics’ was making its Cold War comeback, along with political realism/power politics. This is no accident, since the imposition of artificial ‘business borders’ on weak areas of the world has increased exponentially since the Great War, and has been accompanied by various forms of partition. Perhaps the two most infamous cases of forced partition are those of India and Palestine, which have resulted in huge numbers of deaths.
Partition, it must be said, is a word with negative connotations, to the extent that it is often cloaked in different terminology. For its victims, it can conjure up images of apartheid, bantustanism, annexation, dismemberment, and even vivisection. For its advocates, it can serve as a convenient semantic panacea, a way of preventing people from fighting, or of liberating oppressed minorities in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a term currently in vogue. Supporters of partition will rarely use the term straightforwardly, but latch onto words like ‘federation’, confederation’ and ‘zonality’, attached to words such as ‘pragmatic, or ‘realistic’. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines partition as ‘division into parts, especially political; of a country with separate areas of government’. The definition is perhaps of necessity vague, and as such could imply for some condominium, cantonisation, federalism and confederalism. At an extreme, and using perhaps an excess of logic, partition could even be construed as applying to the United States, since federal states could be seen as separate areas of government. But no outsiders forced the federal system on America. Another, but very different, case of unforced partition, is that of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Conversely, following the last war, outsiders forced partition on Germany, but it lasted only as long as the post-war order did, essentially because it was artificial. It can be reasonably said that all manner of difficult situations are attached to the catch-all word ‘partition’, which has even become an expedient hegemonolinguistic panacea for annexation, secession, and civil war, apart from being possibly the lowest common denominator of international relations. The big debate is whether partition engenders strife, or vice-versa, or which is the chicken, and which the egg. In the case of Cyprus, unnatural division has been imposed on the island, which has in turn engendered creeping, and then enforced, de facto partition. To understand why, it is history that explains effectively, rather than the quagmire of competing IR theories.

Divide et Impera

When the British rented Cyprus from the Ottomans in 1878, to control Russian power in the Eastern Mediterranean, and to watch over ‘an unstable Analolia’, they found a peaceful society, albeit one in which the majority Greek-speaking Christians were second class citizens, as elsewhere in the crumbling Ottoman Empire. British even-handedness was therefore welcomed, as the ‘underdogs’ found themselves with the same rights as the Turkish-speaking Moslems. Christians no longer had to get off their donkeys when approaching a Moslem. As calls among the 82% majority for union with Greece grew, the British recognised that the Church of Cyprus (which the Ottomans, in line with their policy of non-interference in cultural and religious life, had allowed to thrive) needed to be cut down to size. Cyprus’ new masters interfered with education, which was jealously guarded by the Church, prompting some newspapers to compare British control unfavourably with that of the Ottomans, for all the latter’s despotism. In governing, the British also ensured that in the Legislative Council, British and the minority Moslem representatives could outvote the majority Christians. ‘Divide and rule’ had begun. When in 1931 a Moslem (who became known as the ‘thirteenth Greek’) voted with the Christians in a tax matter, London simply rescinded the vote, whereupon Government House was burnt down in mass rioting, and the colonial constitution was revoked. Owing to the then Greek leader, Venizelos’, policy of friendship towards Britain and Turkey, the union movement went underground, only to emerge with a vengeance towards the end of the war, with the UN-promoted pressure for self-determination, the impending return of India to the Indians (or at least most of it), the British pull-out from Palestine, and the return of the Dodecanese islands to Greece. Britain’s strategic obsessions in controlling the Middle East, and therefore Cyprus, in fear of the old Russian bugbear, put paid to any hope of freedom for the Cypriots. This was despite the fact that the Foreign Office had written that the Soviet Union had no interest in spreading communism in Greece, and despite Churchill’s agreement with Stalin that Greece would be 10% Russian and 90% English. There was even American and some high-level Foreign Office pressure to give Cyprus to Greece. Nevertheless, it was the Cold War and Colonial and Foreign Office hawks who won the day. The Greek government was initially nonplussed, and then angered, when the British refused even to discuss Cyprus. As pressure on Britain increased, the government turned to ‘divide and rule’ tactics. The British government worked secretly with Turkey, helping it with its propaganda. Hostilities broke out on 1 April 1955, and the following year, Britain called a conference of itself, Greece and Turkey, with the express aim of bringing in Turkey to an already complicated equation, in defiance of the Treaty of Lausanne, which forbade Turkey from having any responsibilities whatsoever in former Ottoman territories. The head of the Foreign Office called the conference to, in his own words, ‘seriously embarrass the Greek Government’ and to ‘define’ and ‘expose’ Greek and Turkish differences. As the Foreign Office predicted, the conference blew up almost at the start, and was followed by massive anti-Greek rioting in Turkey, and the end of not only Greek- and Turkish Cypriot friendship but, more ominously, the end of the correct Greek-Turkish relations that Venizelos and the Turkish leader, Ataturk, had established in 1930. Greek and Turkish relations have never recovered from the event, which was compounded when most of the remaining Greek citizens and Turkish citizens of Greek stock and religion were hounded out of Istanbul in 1964.
As the Greek Cypriots fought the British, pinning down up to thirty thousand soldiers, the Greek Cypriot leader, Archbishop Makarios, was deported to the Seychelles, and Britain hired hundreds of auxiliary police, who, of course, happened to be Turkish Cypriot. It was mainly American pressure that forced the British to give way. The British, with the Greek and Turkish leaders of the time, came to an agreement, whereby Cyprus would gain independence, with no partition or union allowed. The Greek Cypriots were hardly allowed to participate, with Archbishop Makarios and a small team being allowed in towards the end of the negotiations. As we have seen above, the whole pack of cards collapsed in 1963.

Subtle Partition

By this time, and especially because of the Suez debâcle of 1956, Cyprus had assumed considerable importance for the USA, as well as Britain. Indeed, perhaps the main reason for Britain’s de facto annexation of two bits of the island in 1960 (Britain would, rather, claim that she had generously given most of Cyprus back) was the electronic intelligence-gathering facilities that had been moved to Cyprus. The age of Britain as one of the USA’s Middle East proxies had begun. Following the outbreak of violence in 1963, the Americans decided that the only solution to keep Cyprus from becoming too independent, and trying to reclaim the British territories, was partition. Thus, just as a hard-working British naval commander was bringing the Greek- and Turkish Cypriots together again, an American Assistant Secretary of State, George Ball, told him: ‘ Very impressive, but you’ve got it all wrong, son. Hasn’t anyone told you that our objective here is partition, not re-integration?’ The resulting Ball/Acheson plan was roundly rejected by Archbishop Makarios, since it would have meant the end of the republic, and quite possibly have led to more strife in the future, as has often happened with forced partition. But the Archbishop’s stance earned him the American government’s enmity, and the wholly incorrect epithet of the ‘Red Bishop’. Ever since then, partition has never been off the agenda.

Kissinger’s Partition

Following the outbreak of hostilities in 1967, and the return of around twelve thousand Greek troops to Greece, the writing was on the wall, as extremists in the US-supported Greek junta, and in Cyprus, did their utmost to get rid of Archbishop Makarios. It was the coup against Makarios, in July 1974, that gave Turkey the excuse it had been seeking to invoke Article IV of the Treaty of Guarantee, and intervene, ostensibly ‘to re-establish the state of affairs created by the present Treaty [of Guarantee]’. Britain’s refusal to honour its treaty obligations made it easier for the Turks to act with impunity. The fact that Kissinger (who by that time was running a one-man show in American foreign policy, as Watergate was coming to a head) did not denounce the coup, delayed recognising Makarios as the rightful leader, and did not call for the return to Greece of the Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard (and pressured the British not to), was extremely useful to the Turks, who thus had an excuse to intervene. They landed in Cyprus on 20 July. Far from re-establishing the previous state of affairs, the Turkish army began a creeping invasion, during frenetic negotiations in Geneva between the British, Turks and the new Greek government. The British Ambassador in Washington wrote that ‘the Turks could reasonably gamble that American disapproval would not be so forceful as to compel them to stop.’ To compound matters, when the Turks began their second, massive invasion and takeover of over one third of the island on 14 August, Kissinger refused to attend a NATO meeting before the 19th, thus affording the Turkish armed forces the time they needed to consolidate their occupation. The bandied-about Turkish justification for intervening was to protect the Turkish Cypriot community. This has however been shown to false, since the High Commission and the Commander of British forces in Cyprus made it plain that the Turkish Cypriots were in no danger, and that Turkey was simply seeking to invade. During the Geneva negotiations, Kissinger had already refused to see the new Greek Foreign Minister, Mavros, even though the latter was prepared to come to Washington. It would obviously have made it difficult for the Turks to take over, while their chief overseas supporter was parleying with the Greeks. It is hardly surprising that Kissinger wrote later that the Cyprus problem was solved in 1974. One does not need to read the rumbustious and journalistic screeds of Christopher Hitchens to understand that Kissinger’s role was not honourable. The diplomatic documents of the supine Wilson government suffice to demonstrate this. Even as far back as 1971, a senior British diplomat had written: ‘It is impossible to square Kissinger’s expressed views with reality… it is rather his manner of conceiving foreign policy without reference to, or knowledge of, the State Department or anyone else which is most worrying. It leaves one with the fear that any day something could go seriously wrong because the normal sources of advice, restraint and executions are wholly by-passed.’ More tellingly, Kissinger said in 1974 that Cyprus was important in the Arab/Israel dispute, meaning that he considered the Britsh bases important to the defence of the Jewish State.

The Annan Scheme

Since the invasion and occupation, partition has never been off the agenda, only now the problem for those in favour of partition is more about how to legitimise the illegal and forced partition that exists, but using less cruel words. Just before he left the US Administration, Kissinger threw in his solution, which included the vague phrase; ‘the establishment of a federal system on a bizonal basis with relatively autonomous zones’. Makarios later bit the bullet, agreeing in early 1977, six months before his untimely death, to an ‘independent, non-aligned and bi-communal Cyporus’. But it made, and until now, has made no difference to Turkey’s aims of establishing a separate entity on Cyprus, through their forty thousand occupation troops and the importing of, at the last count, 160,000 illegal settlers, who now outnumber the dwindling (and slowly emigrating) original Turkish Cypriots by two to one.
The latest concerted attempt to subtly legalise the Turkish invasion a fortiori, prevent genuine integration, and ensure that Cyprus remains an object of external powers, without an independent foreign policy, was the so-called Annan Plan. The scheme was triggered by Cyprus’s impending membership of the European Union in 2004. With a member state occupied by an applicant, it would have been ridiculous to expect Cyprus, or indeed any member other than Britain, to support Turkey’s application. The first reason for the scheme’s introduction was that Cyprus’s EU membership posed a perceived threat to Anglo-American interests, which centre on the electronic intelligence gathering stations and Turkey having a strong strategic stake in Cyprus, particularly important given its (albeit currently shaky) military co-operation with Israel. Second, was the planned attack on Iraq, where the US and Britain needed to keep Turkey as sweet as they could. Third, was that by weakening the idea of an integrated state with a single independent foreign policy, and perpetuating institutional divisions, the scheme would keep Cyprus out of mainstream European security structures, since this would infuriate Turkey. This explains the flurry by Britain and the USA to sign with Turkey the so-called ‘Ankara Agreements’ in 2001, whereby it was agreed that Turkey would have a say in any putative ESDP operations in the Aegean and around Cyprus. The agreement was signed without EU authorisation, which annoyed Brussels, even if the ESDP only operates ‘when NATO is otherwise engaged’. An angry Greece then secured additions to the agreement whereby, somewhat farcically, it was agreed that no NATO member would threaten the use of, or use, force against another NATO member. In short, with US and British support, the Turkish military was using Cyprus to keep the EU out of the Eastern Aegean, and away from Greek islands which it periodically threatens with military overflights. Fourth, were Turkey’s membership aspirations per se. Had the plan been agreed, it would have smoothed Turkey’s path into the EU, and removed Greek Cypriot property claims from the ambit of European justice. The most blatant, yet curiously overlooked, evidence of this, was Britain and America’s persistent attempts to have Greece, Cyprus and Turkey (as well as Britain itself) sign a so-called ‘Foundation Agreement’ which, apart from perpetuating some of the most divisive aspects of the1960 treaties, entailed them agreeing a priori to support Turkey’s accession to the European Union. This was a complete infringement of sovereignty and would have weakened the EU’s very raison d’être.
Most bizarrely, the complete plan, of some ten thousand pages, was not put onto the UN website until one minute to midnight, on 23 April, the day before the referendum. It is hardly surprising that it was massively rejected by the Greek Cypriots, yet accepted by the Turkish Cypriots, but we shall never know the true vote of the latter, since the illegal settlers were allowed to vote. It has been said that even the occupation troops were allowed to vote, but I have not yet been able to verify this. If the plan had been accepted, it would have perpetuated the inherently unstable parts of the 1960 treaties, including the divisive aspects and the positive discrimination, which had been the institutional cause of the 1963 breakdown in the first place. By allowing a large proportion of illegal settlers to remain, further seeds of division would have been sown. Importantly, it would have weakened EU cohesion yet more than at present, by undermining EU law.

Then is Now

Guicciardini, considered the founder of modern historical research methods (i.e. recourse to original documents) wrote that things have always been the same, the past sheds light on the future, and that the same things return with different colours. Cyprus is a prime example of this. Just as Britain obtained it for strategic reasons, so the USA and Britain now need it for similar ones. Even if Britain did try to give up the bases following the invasion, and continued trying for at least three years afterwards, the USA simply said no, although a secret suggestion was made that the US would finance them, with discussions taking place. Today, British Middle East policy is part and parcel of America’s, and any attempt to relinquish its territories would be met with strong US resistance. The de facto partition continues, while Turkey continues to use the island as a hostage to gain entry to the EU, and advantages (political rather than legal) in the Aegean. The thought of two entirely independent states is unacceptable to the outside power-brokers, since a new international border would render the 1960 treaties, and therefore the bases, even shakier in terms of UN and EU law than they are at present. Better, they secretly say, to keep Cyprus as a de facto protectorate, but disguise this in a semantic overcoat, while maintaining the modus vivendi, to prevent all-out war between Greece and Turkey, which would weaken the NATO alliance to Russia’s benefit. In the sixties and seventies, the Foreign Office itself questioned the legality of the Treaty of Guarantee, admitted that the three treaties were interdependent, and wrote that anything which called the 1960 settlement as a whole into question could expose Britain to pressure to hang on to the bases, and that they would become increasingly anachronistic in world public opinion. It is these very treaties that have been a monkey on the back of the idea of a properly united island, where every inhabitant, of whatever persuasion, is protected by EU law, which would render the unnatural and forced separation untenable. It is clear that Cyprus has always been coveted by outside powers, and still is, whatever the lip service paid to self-determination. The case of Cyprus is interesting in that dissection came very late to the island, the result of outside interference, against the grain of its natural economic and cultural development over centuries. Extremist forces in Britain, Greece and Turkey caused radicalisation among extremist sections of the population, leading to the present impasse. It is often tempting to outside pundits to compare Cyprus to successful cases of division, such as the former Czechoslovakia, and then say, as the Turkish government does, that a Czech solution would work. This is ingeniously ingenuous (inadvertently or otherwise), however, since Turkey would not permit a new international Greece-friendly border so near to Turkey itself. Moreover, Czechoslovakia managed its divorce amicably, with very little outside interference. In the case of Cyprus, foreign interference, and particularly Turkish control over its occupied zone, would not permit the legal inhabitants themselves to work out their own destiny. Nor would they take kindly to an EU effort to enforce the acquis communautaire throughout the whole island, since this would threaten, from their point of view, their security. EU foreign policy cohesion is in any case virtually non-existent, one reason being the massive enlargement that has made decision-making so cumbersome, bedeviling a serious Common Foreign and Security Policy, as envisaged at Maastricht.


Although Cyprus and other cases of partition can be juxtaposed, actual comparison is difficult in detail. But some general lessons can be drawn. First is the fact that external involvement is often a factor. Former Ottoman territories in the Balkans, in particular, show us the danger of implanting alien populations in conquered territories, since they are themselves potential future seeds of partition, even generations later, usually because of externally influenced radicalisation. Kosovo is a case in point. Sri Lanka is an even more poignant example. During the colonial era, Britain brought in hundreds of thousands of Hindu Tamils to Buddhist Ceylon, with dreadful results generations later. Even Ireland cannot escape from a modicum of comparison, in that at around the same time as the Ottoman empire was settling Moslem Anatolians, and Janissaries, in Cyprus, so the English were settling radical Protestants in Roman Catholic Ireland. The partition of almost one hundred years ago did not solve the problem, and it is difficult to be certain that there will not be future strife, despite the enormous help of the USA, which has consistently pressured the British government behind the scenes to be more accommodating.
Cyprus’s fate can only be properly comprehended within the context of the interests of NATO, the EU, Turkey and Israel. As such, a clear-cut solution is a tough target. Too many people want a piece of the cake. A genuine federation, agreed in 1977, and confirmed in numerous UN resolutions since then is, at least theoretically, and hopefully in practice, the only viable basis for a solution. But it can only be achieved without the self-interested meddling of outside stakeholders, without reverting to outdated treaties that have proven to be the institutional worm in the apple. The EU, for its own self-respect, needs to adopt a more active position in the interests of all Cypriots, through its own soft power. Without this, Cyprus will continue to be a cat’s paw, rather than a fully-fledged sovereign state, a state in which Greek- and Turkish Cypriot alike would have the same individual rights as Moslems and Christians in the USA. Let us conclude by quoting from Galo Plaza’s 1965 report to the United Nations: ‘If the purpose of a settlement of the Cyprus question is to be the preservation rather than the destruction of the state and if it is to foster rather than militate against the development of a peacefully united people, I cannot help wondering whether the physical division of the minority from the majority should not be considered a desperate step in the wrong direction’.

William Mallinson, a former British diplomat, is Lecturer in British history, literature and culture at the Ionian University. He was awarded his doctorate, in international history, by the London School of Economics. He has numerous academic (and some media) publications. His books are: Public Lies and Private Truths: an Anatomy of Public Relations (Cassell, London, 1996 and Leader Books, Athens, 2000), Portrait of an Ambassador: the Life, Times and Writings of Themistocles Chrysanthopoulos (Attica Tradition Educational Foundation, Athens, 1998), Cyprus: a Modern History, published in Greek and English (I.B. Tauris, London and New York, Papazissis, Athens), Partition Through Foreign Aggression ( University of Minnesota, 2010), From Neutrality to Commitment: Dutch Foreign Policy, NATO and European Integration (I.B. Tauris, 2010); Cyprus: Diplomatic History and the Clash of Theory in International Relations (I.B.Tauris, 2010, and, in Greek, Estia, Athens, 2010); and Britain and Cyprus: Key Themes and Documents since World War Two (I.B. Tauris, 2011) .

His speciality is archival research into post-World War Two diplomatic relations, with particular reference to Anglo-Greek-US relations, and European defence policy.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Security Can Terrorise
By Dr William Mallinson

One would not normally associate US Vice President Cheney with terrorising small Greek children, only Iraqi ones. The connexion however comes through his financial and executive connexion with Halliburton, which has enriched itself with the blood of Iraqis. The company has a major stake in the Anglo-American Group Four-Securicor, which in turn owns Wackenhut, well known for running private prisons where inmates have been known to commit suicide. The Greek connexion is that Wackenhut checks outgoing travellers at Athens Airport.
Security is a lucrative business: the obsession with the ‘war on terror’ helps Anglo-American and Israeli security companies to win large contracts. Once, well-trained Greek policemen were responsible for checking travellers at Ellinikon Airport, as they still do at other airports, although Halliburton is now making inroads at regional airports, such as Corfu. Then big business got in the way. The following story illustrates why El. Venizelos Airport’s most sensitive tasks should be carried out by the police or, at least, Greek-owned security companies.
In August 2005, an Anglo-Greek couple with their two small children, five and seven, were travelling to London with Olympic Airlines. A (female) Wackenhut employee told the father that she would like to check his daughter’s toybag. When he insisted that she wear gloves, she accused him of not allowing the bag to be searched. This led to another (female) employee pretending to call the police; pretending, because had they come, the father would have accused the employees of threatening behaviour. In the meantime, the frightened children were hand-searched and heard one of the employees refer to terrorists. When the father insisted on taking the employees’ names, they became even more agitated, particularly since an Olympic Airlines employee had come to see why the London flight was being delayed. The mother asked one of the Wackenhut employees whether she realised that they might miss their flight, whereupon she replied: “That’s not my problem”. By this time, gloves had magically arrived, and since the two badly-trained, impolite and insecure employees could think of no more excuses to delay the family, it caught its flight.
But what of the children? During the farrago, the seven-year old daughter asked the mother what a terrorist was. She turned red and was crying, while her five-year old brother said: “Stop crying or the police will catch us”. For several weeks afterwards, the parents had to deal with their children’s questions, one of which was: “Why did we make those people think we are terrorists?” When the family went through London Airport to return to Athens, the children were treated gently, not barbarically, and not even hand-searched.
It took six months for the family’s complaint to be dealt with, during which time a Mr Papatrechas of Wackenhut wrote to say that the staff were being trained. But the father’s specific question about what precise action was taken was not answered. Until he contacted Group Four-Securicor in Britain. Mr Antonopoulos of the Greek Airport Authority, who insisted, wrongly, that the complaint be translated into Greek, then wrote to say: “Said persons (Ba******* and Cha**********) have been severely reprimanded and serious disciplinary action shall be taken against them should they exhibit similar behaviour in the future (etc)…”
Security is of course important at airports, but when profits are put above people (are plastic gloves really too expensive for foreign shareholders?), training suffers. A deeper, final question is to what extent the Greek state, in other words the Greek people, are allowed to control their own security. No foreign-owned security company should be allowed to terrorise Greek children.

Και η ασφάλεια μπορεί να τρομοκρατήσει
Του Δρ. Ουίλλιαμ Μάλλινσον
Μετάφραση στην Ελληνική: Θοδωρής Μπουχέλος

Είναι γεγονός ότι δεν έχουμε συνηθίσει να ακούμε τον Αμερικανό αντιπρόεδρο Τσέινι να τρομοκρατεί τα παιδιά Ελλήνων –μόνο Ιρακινών. Στην περίπτωση όμως αυτή εμπλέκεται ως επικεφαλής της Halliburton, η οποία έχει πλουτίσει με το αίμα του ιρακινού λαού. Η εταιρεία κατέχει υψηλόβαθμη θέση στον αγγλοαμερικανικό όμιλο Group 4-Securicor, στον οποίον ανήκει η Wackenhut, πασίγνωστη για τις απόπειρες αυτοκτονίας των κρατουμένων στις ιδιωτικές φυλακές που διατηρεί. Σε ελληνικό επίπεδο, η Wackenhut έχει αναλάβει τον έλεγχο των εξερχομένων ταξιδιωτών στον Διεθνή Αερολιμένα Αθηνών.
Η ασφάλεια είναι επικερδής υπόθεση: η εμμονή με τον «πόλεμο εναντίον της τρομοκρατίας» έχει βοηθήσει τις αγγλοαμερικανικές και ισραηλινές εταιρείες ασφαλείας να «χτυπήσουν» τεράστια συμβόλαια. Κάποτε, υπεύθυνοι για τον έλεγχο των επιβατών στο αεροδρόμιο του Ελληνικού ήσαν εξαιρετικής εκπαιδεύσεως Έλληνες αστυνομικοί, όπως γίνεται και σε άλλα αεροδρόμια. Η ακόλουθη ιστορία αποδεικνύει για ποιον λόγο οι διάφορες νευραλγικές θέσεις του «Ελ. Βενιζέλος» θα έπρεπε να καλύπτονται από την Αστυνομία –ή τουλάχιστον από ελληνικής ιδιοκτησίας εταιρείες ασφαλείας.
Πέρσι τον Αύγουστο, μια τετραμελής ελληνική οικογένεια, με παιδιά ηλικίας 6 και 8 ετών, ταξίδευε προς Λονδίνο με τις Ολυμπιακές Αερογραμμές. Στο αεροδρόμιο, η υπάλληλος της “Wackenhut” είπε στον πατέρα ότι θέλει να ελέγξει το σακίδιο της κόρης του. Όταν εκείνος επέμεινε ότι η υπάλληλος θα έπρεπε να φορέσει γάντια, αυτή τον κατηγόρησε ότι δεν επέτρεπε τον έλεγχο του σακιδίου. Η υπόθεση έφτασε σε μια άλλη υπάλληλο, η οποία έκανε ότι καλεί την Αστυνομία –και λέω «έκανε», διότι εάν έρχονταν τα όργανα της τάξεως, ο πατέρας θα είχε την ευκαιρία να κατηγορήσει τους υπαλλήλους για απειλητική συμπεριφορά. Εν τω μεταξύ, τα τρομαγμένα παιδάκια περνούσαν από σωματικό έλεγχο και άκουσαν μία από τις υπαλλήλους να αναφέρεται σε τρομοκράτες. Όταν ο πατέρας επέμεινε να του δώσουν οι υπάλληλοι τα ονόματά τους, εκείνες αγρίεψαν ακόμα περισσότερο, ιδίως αφού στο σημείο είχε καταφθάσει υπάλληλος των Ολυμπιακών Αερογραμμών για να διαπιστώσει γιατί καθυστερούσε η πτήση για Λονδίνο. Η μητέρα ρώτησε μία από τις υπαλλήλους της Wackenhut αν είχε συνειδητοποιήσει ότι θα έχαναν την πτήση τους και έλαβε την απάντηση: «Αυτό δεν είναι δικό μου πρόβλημα». Ως δια μαγείας, τα γάντια έκαναν την εμφάνισή τους και, αφού οι ανεκπαίδευτες, αγενείς και ανασφαλείς υπάλληλοι δεν μπορούσαν να βρουν άλλες δικαιολογίες για να τους καθυστερήσουν, η οικογένεια πρόλαβε την πτήση της.
Τί έγινε, όμως, με τα παιδάκια; Κατά τη διάρκεια του επεισοδίου, η οκτάχρονη κόρη ρώτησε τη μητέρα της τί θα πει τρομοκράτης. Είχε κατακοκκινίσει και έκλαιγε ενώ το εξάχρονο αδελφάκι της τής είπε: «Σταμάτα να κλαις γιατί θα μας πιάσει η Αστυνομία». Επί αρκετές εβδομάδες μετά το συμβάν, οι γονείς είχαν να αντιμετωπίσουν τις ερωτήσεις των παιδιών τους, μία εκ των οποίων ήταν: «Τί κάναμε και νόμιζαν αυτοί οι άνθρωποι ότι είμαστε τρομοκράτες;» Όταν, κατά την επιστροφή της στην Αθήνα, η οικογένεια πέρασε από το αεροδρόμιο του Λονδίνου, οι εκεί υπεύθυνοι ήσαν ευγενέστατοι προς τα παιδιά –και όχι βάρβαροι- και, φυσικά, δεν τα πέρασαν καν από σωματικό έλεγχο.
Πέρασαν έξη μήνες πριν κάποιος ασχοληθεί με την καταγγελία της οικογενείας, κατά τη διάρκεια των οποίων κάποιος κ. Παπατρέχας της Wackenhut τους έγραψε, αναφέροντας ότι το εν λόγω προσωπικό ήταν εκπαιδευόμενο. Αλλά το ερώτημα του πατέρα σχετικώς με τα μέτρα που επρόκειτο να ληφθούν δεν έλαβε απάντηση. Μέχρι που επικοινώνησε με τον όμιλο Group Four-Securicor στη Βρετανία. Ο κ. Αντωνόπουλος της Υπηρεσίας Πολιτικής Αεροπορίας του απηύθυνε επιστολή αναφέροντας ότι «έχουν γίνει αυστηρές παρατηρήσεις- συστάσεις στα εν λόγω άτομα και ότι θα υπάρξουν αυστηρές κυρώσεις σε βάρος τους αν τυχόν παρατηρηθεί στο μέλλον παρόμοιο περιστατικό...» (κτλ.).
Είναι σαφές ότι η ασφάλεια είναι σημαντική στα αεροδρόμια, αλλά όταν το κέρδος μπαίνει πάνω από τους ανθρώπους (μα, τόσο ακριβά φαίνονται πια τα πλαστικά γάντια στους ξένους μετόχους;), το αποτέλεσμα είναι εις βάρος της σωστής καταρτίσεως. Και το τελικό, βαθύτερο ερώτημα, είναι σε ποιον βαθμό είναι σε θέση το ελληνικό κράτος –δηλαδή ο Έλληνας πολίτης- να ελέγχει την ασφάλειά του. Δεν θα έπρεπε να επιτρέπεται σε ξένες εταιρείες ασφαλείας να τρομοκρατούν Ελληνόπουλα...

Security Can Seriously Damage Your Health
By Dr William Mallinson

Whichever minister is responsible for Wackenhut searching travellers and their belongings at Athens Airport has a lot to answer for. The company, owned by the England-based Group 4 Securicor –owned in turn by the infamous US-based Haliburton- has not only mistreated small Greek children (see Eleftherotypia of 9 October) but ignored security procedures: on 13 November, a Wackenhut employee (rudely refusing to give her name) removed and confiscated two 150ml cans of tomato juice from a traveller’s bag. Her supervisor pretended to call the police. Worst of all, however, the traveller then discovered a third 150ml can in his bag, once on the aeroplane.
Matters have gone from bad to worse: the profit-obsessed conglomerate then sacked 350 staff, who have simply been replaced by their Group 4 Securicor sidekicks. The angry Wackenhut staff are now accusing their replacements of being inexperienced (which they are!) and of risking travellers’ safety. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The only difference following the “replacements” is that they wear Group 4 Securicor badges and that there are enormous delays. If they are sacked, perhaps we shall soon be seeing Haliburton badges.
The whole question of who really controls the safety of air travellers –and the broader question of to what extent Greece and the Greeks succumb to foreign interests- is currently particularly germane, since there are reportedly moves afoot in parliament to allow these hurriedly “trained” and inexperienced private “security” staff to carry guns.
The only sensible answer is for private companies to protect private money (banks) and property, leaving the sensitive task of travellers’ security to the far more experienced police, a task they perform admirably at other Greek airports.
In the meantime, the traveller is awaiting the response of the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority to the above-mentioned security breach. They have been courteous, as has the Head of Airport Security, Fotis Lianos, and the Security Planning Director, Chryssoula Falagaris. But words are not enough. Actions are needed.

Η Ασφάλεια Βλάπτει Σοβαρά την Υγεία
του Δρ. Ουίλλιαμ Μάλλινσον
Μετάφραση Θοδωρής Μπουχέλος

Ο Υπουργός ο οποίος είναι υπεύθυνος για το ότι η Wackenhut ψάχνει τους ταξιδιώτες και τις αποσκευές τους στον Διεθνή Αερολιμένα Αθηνών έχει να λογοδοτήσει για πολλά. Η εταιρεία, που ανήκει στην αγγλική Group 4 Securicor –η οποία, με τη σειρά της, ανήκει στην διαβόητη αμερικανική Haliburton- όχι μόνο κακομεταχειρίζεται παιδάκια (βλ. Ελευθεροτυπία 9ης Οκτωβρίου) αλλά παραβλέπει και διαδικασίες ασφαλείας: στις 13 Νοεμβρίου, μία υπάλληλος της Wackenhut (η οποία αρνήθηκε αγενέστατα να δώσει το όνομά της) κατέσχεσε από την τσάντα επιβάτη δύο κουτάκια των 150ml με τοματοχυμό. Ο προϊστάμενός της προσποιήθηκε ότι καλεί την αστυνομία και –το χειρότερο- όταν ο ταξιδιώτης βρέθηκε στο αεροσκάφος, ανεκάλυψε ένα τρίτο κουτάκι των 150ml στην τσάντα του.
Η κατάσταση έχει πάει από το κακό στο χειρότερο: η κοινοπραξία αυτή –με αποκλειστικό γνώμονα το κέρδος- απέλυσε 350 υπαλλήλους, τους οποίους απλώς αντικατέστησε με άτομα της Group 4 Securicor. Οι εξαγριωμένοι απολυμένοι της Wackenhut κατηγορούν τώρα τους αντικαταστάτες τους για έλλειψη εμπειρίας (κάτι που ισχύει) και ότι τίθεται σε κίνδυνο η ασφάλεια των επιβατών. Είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα… Η μόνη διαφορά μεταξύ των μεν υπαλλήλων από τους δε είναι ότι οι τελευταίοι φέρουν διακριτικά της Group 4 Securicor και ότι σημειώνονται απίστευτες καθυστερήσεις στον έλεγχο χειραποσκευών. Σε περίπτωση που απολυθούν και οι «καινούργιοι», δεν αποκλείεται οι επόμενοι να έχουν διακριτικά της Haliburton…
Το όλο ζήτημα του ποιος πραγματικά ελέγχει την ασφάλεια των επιβατών στα αεροδρόμια –και το ευρύτερο θέμα του μέχρι ποίου σημείου θα υποκύψουν Ελλάδα και Έλληνες στα ξένα συμφέροντα- είναι ιδιαιτέρως επίκαιρο επί της παρούσης, αφού ακούγεται πως γίνονται κινήσεις στη Βουλή προκειμένου να επιτραπεί σε αυτούς τους πρόχειρα εκπαιδευμένους και άπειρους «σεκιουριτάδες» να οπλοφορούν.
Η μόνη λογική απάντηση είναι να επιστρέψουν οι ιδιωτικές εταιρείες φυλάξεως στην προστασία του χρήματος (τράπεζες) και της περιουσίας των ιδιωτών και να αφήσουν την ασφάλεια των επιβατών στους μακράν εμπειρότερους αστυνομικούς, οι οποίοι επιτελούν αξιοθαύμαστα το καθήκον τους στους υπόλοιπους ελληνικούς αερολιμένες.
Εν τω μεταξύ, ο επιβάτης της ιστορίας μας εξακολουθεί να περιμένει απάντηση από την Ελληνική Υπηρεσία Πολιτικής Αεροπορίας σχετικώς με το προαναφερθέν περιστατικό ασφαλείας. Όλοι τους ήσαν ευγενέστατοι, όπως επίσης και ο Επικεφαλής Ασφαλείας του Αερολιμένα, κ. Φώτης Λιανός και η Τομεάρχης Σχεδιασμού Ασφαλείας, κ. Χρυσούλα Φαλαγάρη. Αλλά δεν αρκούν τα λόγια –χρειάζονται πράξεις.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Fat Parliamentarian Cats

Instead of destroying the livelihoods of countless hardworking Greeks through arbitrary reductions in salaries and Ottoman-type tax increases, is it not time that the neo-Ottoman clientelistic cleptocracy in the Greek Parliament put their own house in order, by setting an example? Is it not time to scrutinise those responsible for leading Greece to doom, the three hundred members of parliament and their dragoons of overpaid assistants and ‘advisers’, many of whom only have their jobs because they helped a candidate in an election? Are your readers aware that Greece, one of the EU’s poorest members, pays its Members of Parliament over twice what a British member gets, and that, to add insult to injury, a Greek member pays very little tax? Are they aware that a British Member of Parliament earns about thrice that of a young policeman, while in Greece, they earn about ten times that of a young Greek policeman? Are they aware that Greece has far two many Members of Parliament for her population? The Netherlands, with a larger population than that of Greece, has but one hundred and fifty in its Second Chamber.

To avoid major social disruption, I suggest that the EU/IMF puts its money where its mouth is, by insisting that parliamentary salaries are slashed by seventy per cent, to reflect economic reality, and that each member is restricted to one adviser/researcher. That might get the ball rolling in the right direction, by initiating a cathartic and catalytic effect in the interests of the country as a whole, rather than allowing the fat cats to continue squeezing the lemon until the pips squeak, and even destroying it.

Finally, but most importantly, the fact that members of parliament and ministers are protected from criminal behaviour by immunity is clearly completely undemocratic, and panders to the lowest common denominator of human behaviour. I wonder how many billions of Euros of ‘parliamentarians’ illegal money is deposited in the banks of the world’s launderette, the Swiss Confederation? Without lifting parliamentary and ministerial immunity, there is little point in even thinking of how to solve Greece’s problems.

Dr. William Mallinson

1 December 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A superb article by Ambassador Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos

The Eurozone Crisis

On 26 October, the Euro-Summit issued another statement that included another decision of how to once again save Greece. This decision was once again hailed as a milestone, just like the decision of 21 July, similarly hailed as a European solution.
As far as Greece is concerned, the so-called 50% debt reduction was actually a reduction of 28%, since the decision states: ‘ ...we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on national Greek debt held by private investors.’ Thus we are speaking of an amount of 100 billion Euros that will be written off Greece’s total debt of 350 billion Euros. For agreeing to the new austerity measures as per the 26 October decision, additional bailout money would be granted.
Greece is also expected to accept measures that ‘should secure the decline of Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020.’ In other words, the Greek people will be submitted to extreme austerity measures in order to reach the level of debt that existed in 2009 when the crisis broke out.
Unacceptable monitoring systems have been set up to control the full implementation of the programmes. Around 130 monitors are preparing to install themselves in sunny Athens to control Greece's economic policy. Thus Greece loses part of its sovereignty, which is quite humiliating for a nation with an unparalleled history. All economic decisions are to be controlled through the EU, including those that have to do with the purchasing of armaments from Germany, France and the USA. This part of the financial budget of Greece has been exempted from austerity restrictions so far.
In the meantime the situation in Greece is continuing to deteriorate as a result of the austerity measures imposed upon the country and which the government proudly displays in numbers. A 12% reduction of expenses in the health sector have resulted in severe problems for hospitals to adequately treat their patients. Deep cuts in salaries and pensions, increase of the VAT, imposition of so-called solidarity taxes and of more property taxes has led to a drastic decrease in consumption. This has led to an unprecedented number of business closures, not only of SME's but also of larger foreign companies closing down their Greek operations because of lack of profits. The increase in oil and gas taxes is very cold comfort for a population that has reduced heating to an absolute minimum. Cuts in education have resulted in a system with few books, and unpaid teachers. Young and talented people are leaving the country, which is experiencing a massive brain drain. Recession and unemployment have led to social unrest and civil disobedience, both with a tendency to increase rather than slow down. Supermarkets are being robbed by modern day Robin Hoods and the food stolen distributed to those who do not have. Many are reverting to bartering.
And the Greek politicians in the middle of this crisis prefer to play musical chairs, with many of them lining up for the new ministerial positions that will now open in the interim government. The former Greek Prime Minister made a wonderful move by proposing a referendum that would allow the people of Greece to decide on whether or not they agree with the 26 October decisions of the Euro-Summit. However, for some obscure reason he withdrew the proposal the next day. In the meantime, the proposal scared the world enormously and drove the global markets into a frenzy. Greece was being threatened by members of the G-20, Eurozone and EU. We all saw then the true meaning of so-called EU solidarity and the lack of the EU’s respect for democratic procedures. An immediate threat to kick Greece out of the Euro followed, disregarding the fact that in the Lisbon Treaty such a move is not even foreseen and would need year-long negotiations.
The new Greek Government is now composed of members of the two political parties that participated in the rape of the country and is being called to negotiate the details of the 26 October decision, before February elections. Only after the February elections and only after harsher measures have been imposed on the Greek people, might the EU realise its mistakes. And this is the essence of the EU's problem. It has not yet understood that the measures that it has been imposing on Greece for the last two years have not had positive results. On the contrary, they are increasing the debt of Greece and destroying what is left of its economy. Rather than telling Athens when it is convenient for the EU to hold Greece's election or demanding that the leaders of the two main political parties, the president of the Bank of Greece, the new Prime minister and the new minister of Finance confirm in writing their acceptance of the 26 October decisions, Brussels should better examine why the measures are not working. Otherwise the Eurozone will fall apart. Look what is happening in Italy. France is also adopting austerity measures.
The EU is telling the Greeks that the 26 October decision is the only way out of the crisis. Fortunately or unfortunately the people disagree - and so does the Greek economy, otherwise it would not insist on deteriorating in spite of all the bailout programmes. A rethinking needs to take place. And it will take place, with or without the participation of politicians. People have started bartering already, swap-markets, trade services, and voluntary neighbourhood-help programmes are increasing. All this shows a trend towards the creation of an alternative economy, building up of its own volition, by default, in the absence of a government programme corresponding to the needs and desires of the people. If the politicians want the support of the population, they must develop systems and measures that the population can agree to and which offer them a future. In properly functioning democracies, at least, policies cannot be made against the will of the population.
Such measures can range from initiating regional initiatives, like those already functioning successfully in more than twelve EU member states, to a total elimination of the Greek debt, on the condition, of course, that Greece would undergo structural changes. Such a solution would in the long run cost less to the EU than the bailouts and would be beneficial both for Greece and the EU. But before doing that, the Greek economy must start functioning again, by reducing or eliminating the austerity measures.
And since we are speaking about a total debt cut, why does not humanity think of pressing the reset button that would eliminate global debt, and allow it to start from the beginning on a new basis.

Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos
November 8, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Death of Grammar

his paper traces how, in the nineties, the English were tampering with
educational methods in the teaching of foreign languages to English
school children. It criticises the trendy, often politically-motivated pseudoreasoning
of those who experiment with children for their own quasiintellectual
pleasure, while they bite their fingernails of ambition. The paper
stresses that grammar has always been, and always will be, the only certain
criterion in the teaching of foreign languages.
W i l l i a m M a l l i n s o n
William Mallinson
‘Nothing is, but thinking makes it so!’1
It is generally known that the English are as a rule somewhat averse to learning foreign
languages. One reason often put forward for this is that the imperial mentality has not yet
entirely disappeared. Another, connected to this, is that the English do not need to learn
foreign languages, simply because so many foreigners speak English. In fact, more people
speak English as a second language than as a first one, making it, in the words of the late
Jacques Derrida, a ‘substitute language.’ Be that as it may, one should also consider the
otiose penchant for fashion and trendiness, after disguised as ‘innovation’ or ‘progress’, as a
less well-known factor in England's linguistic deficit. It is this: the ‘communicative approach’
in the teaching of foreign languages in schools. By the time pupils have been through this
‘approach,’ they are likely to have forgotten much of what they have learnt, or be in too
weak a position to pursue language studies in higher education. In this context, then, this
essay might be of interest to university foreign language teachers. The ‘communicative’
approach, briefly, is a ‘method,’ pioneered in the Anglo-Saxon world, to teach language in a
‘natural’ way, by creating so-called ‘real life situations’ in the classroom and then feeding
language to pupils without using grammar as the starting point. In England, it has been
promoted particularly energetically at London University’s Institute of Education. Let us
now scrutinize the so- called communicative approach.
According to one modern languages expert:
The period of emphasis on free expression also saw a decline in the teaching of
formal grammar. Parsing of sentences was out, as was the use of grammatical
terminology […] it has certainly been disastrous as far as the teaching of modern
languages is concerned […] we have now reached the point in University language
departments where we are having to teach the basic grammar that used to be taught in
the “O” Level course […] it […] has to be recognized that an understanding of
sentence structure and the forms of words can only enhance clear and accurate
expression both in one’s native language and in foreign languages alike.2
This statement epitomizes the current, as well as recent, situation in the teaching of modern
languages in a large number of language departments in state schools in England.
Before we set out to analyse the causes of the drop in standards which has led to the
adoption of the “communicative approach” as a “pseudo-panacea,” let us quote another writer:
The linguistic training of Latin, emphasising as it does constant process of analysis and
synthesis, teaches clarity and precision of thought, lucidity of expression in English, and
in particular the ability to distinguish the thought and the form in which it is expressed.
The position of Latin is unique in this respect because, more than any other language
likely to be studied, it involves the translation not of single words but of ideas.3
E N O T H T A 2 : ° § o ™ ™ . , § . ° . Ä . A . ð . , ¶ . § ð Ä ð ™ . . ™
1 Epictetus.
2 Coggle, Paul, “The Culture Essay,” Sunday Times, 10 April 1994.
3 Kinchin, Smith, F., Teach Yourself Latin, English Universities Press Ltd., London, 1938, revised 1948, 1958
edition, pp. ix-x.
The same can of course be said for Ancient Greek.
Clearly, then, a basic understanding of grammar aids the language-learning process by
providing a solid base of understanding of structure which aids correctness – but not, thank
goodness, “political correctness” and “trendy,” half—baked, sycophantic ideas. “If language
is not correct,” says Confucius, “then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not
what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone.”4
It may be true that the rote system of learning grammar in the teaching of foreign
languages, when not allied to the application of the language, has the drawback that it will
enhance reading and writing skills, but little else. Indeed, some of the stimulus for introducing
the “communicative approach” came as an extreme reaction to the “extreme” use of
grammar, an approach doubtless easy to justify in the curious climate of the mid-to late
sixties, when modish theories abounded, and when “free expression” (and free sex) was all the
rage. Intellectual rigour suffered as a result, particularly since many of the current slab of
language (and other) teachers were indoctrinated during that period, and are themselves weak
in their knowledge of grammar and, therefore, understanding of language. Thus, the
communicative approach suits teachers with an inadequate knowledge of grammar.
An unfortunate “sub-trend” of the move into the “communicative approach” has been the
move towards more visuals and less dense reading texts. This is reflected in school textbooks
(if they can be called that) which resemble badly produced comics and shy away from long
sentences or texts, mainly in the name of creating “real and relevant meaningful situations”
with which pupils can “identify.” It is however not only in foreign language education that
this trend has manifested itself: a comparison of the “Times” of twenty years ago and that of
today shows that content and quantity have been replaced by more visuals, headlines and less
quantity, to the point where the newspaper is little more than an “up-market” quasiintellectual
“Sun.” The newspaper contrasts vividly with “Le Monde” (less photographs) and
“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.” Whatever the causes for the alteration in the way in which
English newspapers are set out, the causes for the facile and simplistic layout of many of our
school language books lie in the “communicative approach,” where rigour and complexity
are non-starters.
Another “sub-trend” of the “communicative approach” is the common assumption that
one should be taught a second language in the same way that one has learnt one’s native
language.5 This in turn leads to many assuming that the best way to learn a second language
in a classroom is to equate it with learning it in a natural environment (as one has learnt
one’s native tongue). This has, in some quarters, led to a curious assumption that one can
teach a foreign language to English pupils in the same way that one teaches English as a
second language to foreigners. This false logic expediently avoids the rather obvious fact that,
teaching or no teaching, all human beings will always learn to communicate in their native
language (with the possible exception of the “enfant sauvage”), and that learning a foreign
language is invariably going to involve a different learning process, one based more on
juxtaposition and translation; hence the role of grammar.
W i l l i a m M a l l i n s o n
4 Gowers, Sir Ernest. The Complete Plain Words, revised by Sir Bruce Fraser, HMSO, 1973, p. 111.
5 Tony Roberts discusses this in “Please, Miss, what’s the French for…?” in Languages Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1,
February 1993, Institute of Education, University of London, p. 24.
This near equating of one’s native and foreign language has led to the curious assumption
that pupils must be taught in terms of what they can “do” in the language. A typical
“communicative” syllabus will, for example, list “getting things done,” which in turn will
subdivide into “suggesting a course of action, offering to do something, saying that something
is/is not obligatory and expressing want or desire, and so on.”6 Wringe questionably states
that “most pupils will best learn to communicate in the foreign language if they spend a good
part of their learning time in activities which as closely as possible resemble the act of
communicating in a situation they are likely to encounter.”7 At the same time he admits to
“raging controversy” among modern linguists. He does not choose to provide us with textual
references or research to back up his claim about “situations,” a reflection, perhaps, of
modern language teaching’s lack of its own research base.8
At best, the intellectual justification of the “communicative approach” is confused, and at
worst, chaotic: Mitchell, for example, writes:
Taken together, the sum of teachers’ remarks on this subject [grammar explanations]
may be given a rather worrying interpretation. If, as the evidence suggests, substantial
numbers of teachers do believe, on the one hand, that it is necessary to provide
grammar explanations for pupils to develop an advanced generative foreign language
competence under classroom conditions, and on the other hand, that substantial
numbers of pupils cannot benefit from such explanations, it seems that some confusion
persists in terms of the outcomes which may be expected in […] teaching.9
Curiously, he devotes very little space to grammatical explanation in his book on
“communicative language teaching.”
Given the almost pathological hatred of grammar on the part of some exponents of the
“communicative approach,” it is hardly surprising that comic books, flash cards, games and
the attempt to create “meaningful situations” have taken over in many language
departments, and no less surprising that many undergraduates are unable to write, or speak,
On one occasion, a language teacher was told not to answer a pupil’s question as to the
meaning of “auch.” Perhaps it is possible to mime the meaning of “laufen” (to run), but not
“auch.” Worse still, because translation is often frowned upon, so are dictionaries, so the
teacher was unable even to suggest consulting a dictionary. Generally, explanation is forbidden,
particularly if it touches on grammar. It is sufficient, claim the “teachers,” to help the pupils to
use “phrases” (often under the inaccurate, expedient and respectable-sounding label
“structures”). Show them some attractive pictures, throw in a few tape recordings and various
“teaching materials” and –Bob’s your uncle – they will “learn.” This is merely pseudo-reality.
Yet from this writer’s experience, they do not learn; they merely absorb for a short
while, and then forget. It is the worst kind of parrot teaching. Often, when asked a question,
E N O T H T A 2 : ° § o ™ ™ . , § . ° . Ä . A . ð . , ¶ . § ð Ä ð ™ . . ™
6 Wringe, Colin, The Effective Teaching of Modern Languages, Longman Group UK Limited, Harlow, 1989, p. 4.
7 Ibid. p. 3.
8 Roberts, op. cit., p. 24.
9 Mitchell, Rosemund, Communicative Language Teaching in Practice, Centre for Information on Language
Teaching and Research, London, 1988, p. 37.
the pupils will come out with such answers as “J’ ai content,” “Ich habe dix ans” (if they learn
a third language) and “Ich hei.e elf Jahre.” It is hardly surprising that constant revision
–under the expedient heading “reinforcement”– is required. A typical “communicative” class
is meant to be so brisk as to defy any semblance of thought on the part of the pupil. Phrases
are merely fed in pseudo-subliminally, without explanation; tape recordings are over-used,
despite the fact that they are unnatural. The pupils are turned into robots.
In short, pupils are not encouraged to think. This is the crux of the matter: to understand,
and therefore retain, one needs to think. Without the ingredients, thought is rendered
difficult. Some species of parrot could probably be taught to retain some of the phrases in the
same way as our pupils are, with the difference that they might retain them for longer,
through constant repetition (they have little else to do in their caged lives). Dogs, too, can be
trained through repetition and constant use of signs and sounds: they, too, have their cage of
captivity. The pupils, like the parrots and dogs, have their communicative cage, created by
the blind allegiance to believing that a second language should be taught in the way one learns
a first language. Thus we have the blind leading the blind, as standards continue to plummet:
parrots do not ask questions. In none of the classes this writer has observed, has a pupil ever
asked a question relating to why a word, phrase or sentence is placed or structured as it is.
Yet stimulating questions should be one of the prime objectives of a teacher of languages. Of
course, in the “communicative approach,” they are not, as a “sample lesson plan” given to
post-graduate students at the Institute of Education, shows. It is based on an obsession with
“structuring” a lesson around a “situation,” to the detriment of analysis and, therefore,
This is where we turn back to grammar: without a recognition that it provides the basis of
a language, there will be little thinking, let alone the independence of thought so vital to
understanding and, therefore, learning. Yet, perhaps for ideological reasons, grammar, or,
rather the teaching of it, is anathema to the so-called “communicative teachers.” One does
not need to know all about Dionysus Thrax10 or Aristarchus to understand this obvious fact,
but merely the importance of common sense: one can learn well a few pieces of the classical
guitar through imitation and constant repetition, but cannot progress further, and be creative,
without knowledge of the grammar of music – notes, arpeggios, keys and the rest.
The charlatans, and I call them so without malintent, do not realize that language itself is
artificial, that words, once they leave the mouth, are the subject of many interpretations,11 and
that it has developed only through grammar, and always shall. When it does not, you meet the
Dark Ages, where language is preserved in such places as monasteries (those that survive).
In other words, language is but a part of communication, artificial because it has to be
created by people, constantly sculpted and preserved. Grammar is the backbone, even the
skeleton, without which you have collapse. Grammar, then, is tradition, in the sense that it is
the living continuity of language, so vital to communication.
W i l l i a m M a l l i n s o n
10 One of the earlier exponents of grammar (c. 100 B.C.); lived in Rhodes for a fair chunk of his intellectual life; his
“Techne Grammatike” forms the basis of all European teaching on grammar, via the partial filter of the Latin language.
See also Lallot, La Grammaire de Dionyse de Thrace, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, 1989.
11 See Eco, Umberto, A Theory of Semiotics, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1979, and The Limits of
Interpretation, Indiana University Press, 1990.
The manic quest for process alone, as if the basics do not exist, is false: “The quest for
natural language processes may be exciting but it is ineffective, often bewildering for the
learner and occasionally perverse,”12 according to Roberts, who also writes:
[…] in recent years, the role of grammar in modern languages has been marginalized,
as communicative aims become the norm. Ironically enough, perhaps, it is precisely
those writers who were to the forefront in promoting such aims who are beginning to
recant and, as in the case of Ellis (1993), to advocate a return to structure (under the
guise of ‘grammar awareness’ programmes.13
The sheepish backpeddling has begun, in the effort to preserve “academic reputations;” but
the damage has been done; the adults have had their ideological, sub-intellectual orgasm, and
have experimented on the children. To reverse the damage, rigorous grammar training should
from part of any serious teacher-training course.
Grammar is old, hence its continued existence, older than the barely baked theories of the
There is nothing wrong with communication, indeed, speaking the language should be
encouraged; but only if it is understood that grammar is the vehicle of effective spoken (and
written) communication. Only in this way will children think and, therefore, understand what
they are saying, thereby committing it to memory, to be activated some day in France,
Germany, Italy or wherever. They will also be able to understand other people.
In much the same way as the confectioner would please customers’ palates by a clever
combination of flavours, so the Sophist would tickle the ears of an audience by attractive
combinations of words and phrases (Taylor, 1978, p. 110). The physician, on the other hand,
unlike the confectioner, would prescribe a wholesome diet. In short, the Sophist pretended to
teach knowledge without possessing it, thus neglecting the highest values. They were seen as
the ‘blind leading the blind’.14
After, all, if a child is fed with the sounds “Ichwerdemorgenindieschulegehen,” and is not
helped to use the vehicle, indeed the gift, of grammar, to understand this sound, the result can,
frankly, be damaging. In other words, the “communicative approach” detracts from
communication. Long live communication; but tempus fugit.
PS The comic book publishers must be laughing all the way to the bank.
William Mallinson
Department of Foreign Languages, Translation and Interpretating
Ionian University
E N O T H T A 2 : ° § o ™ ™ . , § . ° . Ä . A . ð . , ¶ . § ð Ä ð ™ . . ™
12 Roberts, op. cit., p. 26.
13 Roberts, Tony, “Grammar: old wine in new bottles?” in Languages Forum, Vol. 1, Nos. 2/3, February 1994,
Institute of Education, University of London, p. 5.
14 Mallinson, Bill, “A Clash of Culture: Anglo-Saxon and European Public Relations. New versus Old, or just Dynamic
Interaction?” in International Public Relations Review, Vol. 14, No. 3, 1991, and Mallinson, Bill, Public Lies and
Private Truths, An Anatomy of Public Relations, Cassell, London, 1996 and Leader Books, Athens 2000, pp. 74-75.

Sunday, November 6, 2011



Some commentators, and not only Mannichean Cold War journalistic warriors, depicted Greek-Russian military co-operation at the end of the last millennium and the abortive delivery of two batteries of S-300 defensive missiles to Cyprus as unhelpful political opportunism. The typical argument runs that it is destabilising and bad for NATO cohesion, and that Greece is helping Russia to gain influence in the Eastern Mediterannean. This rather conveniently packaged argument is never elaborated on, just as US-Israeli-Turkish military co-operation was expediently accepted, with little more than a murmur. There is of course far more to the Greek-Russian relationship than meets the eye, and any serious pundit needs at least to be aware of the historical continuity of Greek-Russian relations, bedevilled only temporarily in the Cold War, and currently by a supine Greek government, to understand the background.
Long before Russia existed as a definable cultural, linguistic and geographic entity, Greeks had been settled around the Black Sea. When Russia began to emerge, it was the Greek monks Cyril and Methodius who laid the foundations of Christianity among the Slavs, creating a Slavonic alphabet, based on the Greek, but incorporating some non-Greek sounds. It is no exaggeration to say that the role of the Greek church in Russia rivalled that of the papacy in Western Europe.
After the fall of Constantinople, the memories of the Byzantine Empire lived on, not only in the Greek psyche, but in Russia. Some high points of Greek-Russian co-operation were the Orlov brothers' attempts to liberate the Peloponnese in 1769, and Catherine the Great's dream of capturing Constantinople and placing her grandson on the throne of a new Byzantine Empire. Of more practical help to Greece were the Treaty of Kütschük Kainardji, where Russia gained the right to protect Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire; the commercial treaty giving the Greeks the right to trade under the Russian flag (thus contributing to Greece's becoming the leading shipping power that she is today); the establishment of a military academy for Greeks in Russia; and Russia's crucial help in the war of Greek independence, which forced the British to intervene, more out of fear of Russia than sympathy for Greece. Modern Greece’s first leader, Capodistria, had actually been a Russian foreign minister.
Only ten years after Greek independence, the British Minister to Greece was to say: ‘A truly independent Greece is an absurdity. Greece can either be English or Russian, and since it cannot be Russian, it is necessary that she be English.’ Only a few years later during the Crimean War, British (and French) forces actually occupied Piraeus to prevent Greece helping Russia against a weakening Ottoman Empire. As recently as 1955, Winston Churchill himself (confirming that Stalin had agreed at Yalta to leave Greece out of the Soviet sphere of influence) wrote: ‘I must say, when I think of the risks I ran and the efforts I made on behalf of the Greeks, I feel they qualify for the first prize for ingratitude. But for my personal exertions they would be lumped with Roumania and Bulgaria inside the Iron Curtain.’ This was however an exaggerated claim, since in early June 1944, some four months before the infamous ‘percentages’ agreement, the Foreign Office wrote that the Russians [sic] had agreed to let them ‘take the lead’ in Greece.
The past has an uncanny way of influencing the present, whatever the Henry Fords of this world may claim: both Russia and Greece have been, and still are, worried by Turkish expansionism; both have been embroiled, and still are, in Britain's, now the USA's, concern to maintain a strong Turkey to combat what they see as Russian expansionism. Although Turkey does not dare to indulge in sabre-rattling against Russia, she is doing all she can to increase her influence in Central Asia and the Caucasus, resulting in Russia stepping up political pressure in Azerbaijan, strengthening political and defence ties with Moldova, and assisting Armenia. The quest for oil obviously plays its dangerous part, with the US and Turkey pushing for a Turkish solution, (Ceyhan) and the Greeks and Russians working on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis solution. This latter project, however, now looks under threat, thanks to Bulgaria looking increasingly like an American client state, and delaying the project on specious grounds, while the pro-US Greek Prime Minister, Papandreou, is happy to do nothing.
Until recently, the convergence of interests is clear. For economic, political, cultural and historical reasons, Greece and Russia were co-ordinating some of their foreign policy interests: in the same way that Greece did not wish to see a Turkish arc on its northern borders, nor did Russia on its southern and south-eastern flanks. Under Papandreou’s predecessor, Karamanlis, co-operation was improving. Karamanlis pushed hard for the pipeline. But now, with Greece under economic occupation, the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal banking world is doing its best to destroy what might have been a strong Graeco-Russian partnership. Karamanlis, who seemed to be a man with some bottle, was almost certainly threatened, and is lying very low, while a bankrupt Greece is being ordered to continue buying expensive French, German and American arms, rather than cheaper, and often better, Russian ones.
The future is tricky. Russia no longer sees Greece as a reliable partner, but as a puppet of so-called ‘Western interests’. It is going to take a Greek leader with guts to help to re-establish the damage done. Without it, Greece could end up as a slave state of US-Turkish interests.

William Mallinson

Thursday, November 3, 2011


                                 CATHARTIC CRISIS

At long last, a man, a real hombre, Julian Assange, has arrived to outdo the revered American Daniel Ellsberg. He is aided, it must be said, by the manic electronification since Ellsberg’s heyday in 1971, of so many of the trillions of words produced by government officials. The Wikileaks story does not need to be put into any particular context or mind-freezing politically correct 'conceptual framework’ to understand. As a former diplomat, several things have struck me.

a) It is highly unfortunate that Wikileaks was not sufficiently developed in 2002 to expose the web of deceit and lies that led to the illegal attack on Iraq. The evil war might then have been prevented.

b) We should remember that state confidentiality is often a cover for illegality, and therefore needs to be exposed in the public interest. Although Harold Nicolson wrote that while negotiations should be private, policy should not, it is quite clear that nowadays, far too much policy is kept secret, usually for suspicious reasons.(no snide slurs about left-wingery, please: I am a true-blue British conservative, albeit a critical one).

c) Much of the subject matter in the leaked material merely shows the tendency of some Anglo-Saxon diplomacy to be supercilious in its sometimes cosily arrogant pseudo-ivory tower. I remember that when I was writing confidential and secret letters on various political topics in the country to which I was accredited, I took care not to write slanderous things. It seems that the lowering of educational standards in what we call ‘the West’ is reflected in the low quality of many of the current batch of diplomats' reporting.

d) The massive spread of use of the internet in sensitive government work has not only taken away the space to actually think about what one writes, but weakened security almost beyond repair. The asinine obsession with deadlines (usually false) and the sheer massive amount of extra paperwork and information overload created by the abuse of computers by lazy government departments has created confusion. Without the manic abuse of the internet, and the concomitant electronification of relations between – and within - states, this alleged scandal could never have occurred.

e) Much of what has been exposed (and I write as a diplomatic historian who deals almost exclusively with original documents, rather than with silly and conflicting theories) is remarkably similar in nature to what I have been recently reading in thirty-year old documents.  The only essential difference is the lower quality of the use of the English language, and a pleasing lack of paranoia in security matters. In a large number of cases, even as a former diplomat, I am surprised about what the fuss is all about. Most of the 'scandalous' information is obvious stuff.

f) There is an enormous level of hypocrisy in the whole orchestrated slur campaign against Assange, since governments, particularly the British and American ones, themselves regularly leak documents illegally to further their own sometimes dubious objectives. Most intelligence relies on the media to a large extent (it's a lazy business!), and is also polluted by chicken-feeding, disinformation, and officially sanctioned illegal selective leaking.

g) Thank goodness that the paranoid state surveillance with which we have to put up these days (so well depicted by George Orwell in '1984') is now rebounding on the state paranoids, and that normal people can now put these unaccountable control freaks themselves under surveillance. As Ellsberg said, they are the danger to security, by encouraging terrorism and feeding the springing up of primitive-minded and money-grubbing 'security companies'.

I suppose that I now run the danger of being murdered by the paranoid brigade of manichean neo-con slave-'thinkers', promoting their childish political realism theories, and lying themselves to hell, those such as the semi-literate and emotional Palin, who has issued some pretty rum statements about how to deal with Assange, statements which would send many people into paranoid paroxysms. But the cool, calm and collected Assange would certainly see off her and her ilk in any debate on the meaning of democracy.

In my diplomatic days, we had none of these problems, since our secretaries did not use even electronic typewriters, let alone computers. So perhaps we'll have a return to tradition, and scrap all the technological trash that has so befuddled and then lobotomised and de-sensitised the brains of so many. 

As for accusations that Wikileaks has endangered agents' lives, only a moron would put down the name of an agent on a document below the ‘Top Secret’ category. If any US diplomats have recorded the names of agents or informers on the leaked documents (which are of a fairly low security category), then they should be fired for having endangered them by recording their names on merely confidential documents in the first place.

The world, or rather the dirty and jingoistic side of the national and international  ‘Establishment’, has simply been gobsmacked by the publication of the documents. I am reminded of that scene in Bunuel’s The Discrete Charm of the Bourgoisie when, during a meal, the curtains are suddenly drawn, and the diners realise that they are on a stage, being watched by an audience. They simply do not know what to do. Despite several warnings of what was to come, it seems that the sheer volume of the information released (is ‘leaked’ really the right word, in the same sense that ‘whistleblowing’ is a sensational media word for ‘integrity’?) has left politicians and various pundits scrabbling around in their own dirt. Thus, a once proud Swedish state has shown itself to be wanting in honesty, indulging in its own leaking, but of a grubby and selective kind. Assange, after pleasuring two women admirers who were obviously out to have his body, continued to see them and to be friendly with them, after the alleged events took place. Although he remained in Sweden for several leaks (oops, I mean ‘weeks!), he was not charged. The affair stinks to high heaven, as does the current Swedish establishment. Perhaps the late Stieg Larsson’s portrayal in his superb trilogy about Lisbeth Salander is not pure fiction, and betrays a disturbing aspect of Swedish society. As for the fact that we are now being treated to a rehash of the fact that Assange has a son from a previous relationship, and went to a large number of schools in his life, the result of a broken family, this is far more likely to draw support and sympathy than the intended opposite. The fact that he has come through it all shows guts. He is clearly a great Houyhnhnm, under attack from a swarm of Lilliputian Yahoos. He is an hombre, and the more he is attacked, the smaller his detractors become. Thank you, Julian, for showing us how to be real men!

                                                         Dr. William Mallinson

                                                         Athens, 22 December 2010

Saturday, October 29, 2011



By Dr.William Mallinson


This piercing piece considers the term ‘crisis management’, suggesting that imprecision of meaning can be, and indeed is, dangerously exploited. The piece goes on to suggest nitty-gritty methods of dealing with crises, or at least of trying to stave off their worst effects. It concludes that even a perfect plan can be rendered useless by inappropriate methods and people.

Key words: crisis, management, imprecision, wishful thinking, plan.


Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

The trendy term ‘crisis management’, that grew out of the post-war Marshall Plan-inspired business and war propaganda that saw the borrowing by big business of military terminology, does not really mean very much, although it can look sexy in an international relations (IR) strategy paper, business plan (often the hidden part of an IR strategy) or  CV. In fact, like the terms ‘business ethics’ and ‘conflict management’, it can even be an oxymoron. After all, a crisis, by very definition, cannot be managed, because if it can, then it cannot be a true crisis, in other words, a ‘time of great danger or difficulty’ and/or a ‘decisive moment’. The word ‘management’ can be equally vague and devoid of intrinsic meaning, particularly since it has invaded the description of almost every human activity connected to work. Hordes of young people obtain over-the-counter   business degrees from private colleges, thinking, or rather believing, that they can manage a crisis, and that they are managers. Even the word ‘manager’ has connotations of respectability, not to mention the association with power that insecure people, such as most politicians, need so much. All in all, the whole field of ‘crisis management’ is laden with linguistic bulimia and pomposity, and can mean different things to different people. To the PR specialist, or, better put, communications specialist, it means achieving clarity and emphasising tact, by converting hostility to understanding. To the business manager, it can mean firing half the staff. To a Wall Street dealer in the late twenties, it can mean committing suicide.
Before we try to inject some common sense into this whole area, let us remember Confucius:

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what ought to be done remains undone[1].  

In  our so-called globalised post-Berlin Wall world of business bliss and peace-promotion, there is an increasing lack of precision, particularly in international law, which has in itself been a prime factor in creating crises. For example, just before the illegal 78-day NATO bombing of a sovereign state, Yugoslavia (well, virtually), the British Foreign Office-and Ministry of Defence-friendly Royal Institute of International Affairs  published an article by a consultant/lawyer, which ended with the imprecise, obfuscatory and weasel sentence:

The connection of the legal justification of humanitarian action with the aim of achieving FRY/Serb acceptance of the Rambouillet package in its entirety, if it is maintained, would represent an innovative but justifiable extension of international law.[2]

It should come as no surprise that the author was an adviser to the Kosovo delegation. Apart from the fact that NATO had almost certainly already decided to ensure that it would mark its fiftieth birthday, not with its dissolution, as provided for in the NATO Treaty, but with new members and illegal bombing, by insisting on a priori infringement of the FRY’s sovereignty, it actually created the crisis. From then on, in the words of Vasilis Fouscas, NATO became a consumer of security, in other words, a force for anarchy and lack of security, promoted by fanatic neo-cons, who turned out to be the very antithesis of true conservatives, by throwing away the compass of stability:  the neo-cons conned the world. The whole mentality behind Weller’s sloppy yet weasel-like language must have George Orwell turning in his grave. The kind of language used in the article seems designed to dress up simple but unacceptable statements, so as to lend them an air of academic balance.[3] As Orwell writes, such language is used to dignify the sordid processes of international politics. And let’s make no bones about it: international politics (or international relations)[4] is both a sordid business and a rough trade. The quote above, apart from being dangerously imprecise and semantically slimy, leads to our next idea, namely that of ‘wishful thinking’, in other words the realistic contention that most crises, whether political, territorial or ethnic (but not natural, obviously), are actually artificial, since they are consciously created by the express behaviour of human beings. Importantly, those irresponsible leaders who create, either by default or expressly, wars, stress the importance of ‘managing the crisis’, since not to do so would give the game away. The most obvious recent example is the invasion of Iraq, not only in contravention of international law, but an international crime perpetrated on the back of a blatant lie. At any rate, the wishful thinking solidifies, is presented as a humanitarian crisis (like the Kosovo ‘crisis’), and then continues by becoming in itself a humanitarian crisis, in other words, the manslaughter of hundreds and thousands of Iraqis. Most importantly, we see here that ‘crisis management’ can actually entail crisis creation, in order to ‘manage’ it, or , more accurately, to  achieve a set of hidden objectives under the label ‘crisis’. Having now attempted to inject some reality into the whole business, let us nevertheless try and adopt a positive approach, by getting down to the nitty-gritty. Let us put down a marker now, and say that what we are really talking about is ‘crisis avoidance’.


First, in terms of international crises, a plan is inevitably necessary to help to avoid the worst scenarios, which can equate to a crisis. The moment a problem is identified, indeed, well before, the following basic process should be prepared. Remember that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

First: observe, consider, consult, analyse and evaluate.

Second:  clarify the purpose, and define the objective(s), remembering that you do not necessarily have to have an objective.

Third:  pin-point the audiences, segment, analyse and evaluate them.

Fourth:  consider and then sculpt the message(s).

Fifth: select your media and techniques for using them.

Sixth: remember costs, in other words, be realistic, even if working for the state, since politicians are conscious of costs.

Seventh: actually begin to do something, provided that you need to (but bear in mind that inaction can also be most therapeutic in certain types of crisis).

Eighth: evaluate what you are doing from the very beginning, and keep comparing your evaluations at different stages.

Post-mortem: if you are still alive, it is crucial that you look at the whole thing, to see how useful it might be in the future, and what kind of alterations might need to be made in respect of different crises.[5]

The above is merely a brief set of simple guidelines to help the whole process of avoiding a crisis, or at least of coming to terms with it, since avoidance can be almost impossible. It does not necessarily have to be treated pedantically and chronologically. For example, you can pin-point your audiences while you are observing, and even start to execute as you clarify your purpose. The above plan is also useful in coping with unavoidable crises, such as earthquakes.

Issues Management

There is one rather obvious way of trying to avoid crises, and that is to follow issues, in other words, to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on around you, so that you can nip trouble in the bud. This requires a sophisticated research capability and capacity. It also requires the right sort of communication channels being ready when needed. In other words, they need constant oiling. Does your ministry/department/section have a single spokesman? Is he acquainted with all topics? Is he in full communication with his overseas counterparts? Is he in permanent contact with the decision-makers in his own organisation? Above all, is there a hotline at the highest level? The whole high-sounding business is in fact extremely complex for the average person. Let us look at a typical checklist from a typical book:

·         Identify and list 100 or more issues.
·         Seek out the concerns of other managers about other issues.
·         Categorise those issues.
·         Start a central issue file. Let people know where it is.
·         Determine issues relevant to the corporation and investigate them in depth.
·         Assign priorities to these issues.
·         Circulate the issues for management input.
·         Learn what other institutions are doing.
·         List plans to cause action on the issues.
·         Begin a speakers’ bureau.
·         Determine whether a formal public affairs programme is needed to get things rolling.
·         Present selected issues at appropriate meetings, e.g. sales meetings, management meetings, and financial meetings.
·         Encourage issue-oriented speeches and articles; merchandise them.
·         Send letters on the issues to employees, retirees, and shareholders.
·         Contact elected officials on the issues.[6]

All the above is of course easier said than done, and it is perhaps somewhat naively formulated. It might work fairly well in the US, but would need considerable modification in Europe. If such a series of instructions were to get into the hands of an inexperienced graduate, or even an average manager, he would almost certainly come unstuck pretty fast, and either create a crisis, or, if one had already appeared, make it worse. The fact is that training people to handle crises is extremely difficult. The only sure way is to actually learn during a crisis, cynical though this may sound. The one golden rule in any crisis is clear and uninterrupted communication with the decision-makers. This is why a good military intelligence or diplomatic training can be useful.


A planned approach, as long as it avoids dangerous pedantry, is the most sensible way of approaching this whole semantically loose IR topic of ‘crisis management’, which has been borrowed, like so much American-oriented IR, from business management terminology. Planners can become involved in their plans to the extent of forgetting people. If you forget people, and concomitantly, human factors such as greed and insecurity, your initial thinking, having developed into an idea and, possibly, a theory, can become a fixation, then an obsession, leading finally to madness, which can actually be rather dangerous when creating/ avoiding crises. Consider the Bush/Blair syndrome, and the amount of rationalisation/cognitive self-dissonance to which they  subjected themselves, to avoid the fact that they became obsessed and were responsible for an amount of manslaughter and planned killing that makes a typical terrorist act (horrible and unacceptable though it may be) look like a girl-guides’ tea-party. Far from preventing anarchy and terrorist acts, these alleged leaders actually managed to destabilise the Middle East even more than before, and introduce totalitarian measures in their own countries unheard of since the Fourth World War.[7] As a result of abysmal crisis management, we are now going through a creeping crisis that only the calmest, toughest and most honest Bismarckians can hope to cope with. When the Berlin Wall collapsed, the first big mistake was to fuel the potential crisis by expanding NATO, which was already beyond its shelf-life. In the words of one expert (a former naval officer and NATO war planner), the 1999 bombing orgy was an example of image taking precedence over substance.[8] It lit the slow fuse of Russian anger, which began as mere perplexity, and has now reached the stage of irritation. The second big mistake was to overreact following the twin tower atrocities, and get bogged down in Afghanistan, and then Iraq. Countless innocent people died in the name of freedom and democracy, and West became a far dirtier word than it had ever been before. In the first case, when the Warsaw Pact collapsed, NATO should have consolidated and changed its statutes to become an essentially politico-cultural, rather than military organisation, while EC supra-national defence should have been consolidated, to compensate. At the same time, firmer sanctions should have been applied on Iraq, following its invasion of Kuwait, rather than resorting to war only a few months later. But let us not forget that the US ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, actually told Saddam Hussein a few days before the invasion that the USA had no interest in Iraq’s dispute with Kuwait.[9] Here, of course, an interesting parallel can be drawn with the US’ Balkan envoy, Gelbard’s, description in February 1998 of the Albanian KLA as ‘without question a terrorist organisation’,[10] thus fuelling the more fanatic of the Serb para-militaries. Then along came banker Holbrooke, who suddenly befriended the terrorists, which was then followed by the build-up to the bombing.

The rather obvious message from all this shenanigans is that the Bush Senior crisis plan, and the Bush Junior and Bliar very junior crisis plans were not proper plans at all, but simply anarchistic macho- greed dressed up as a plan to look respectable to an increasingly auto-lobotomised and artificially globalised globe. The only result of the fake plans was to bequeath trouble in the Balkans and the Middle East for years to come, which is part of the reason why the world economy is currently collapsing.

Finally, it is worth remembering that it may not be so much a plan that is wrong, than the way in which it is implemented, and the people involved. A plan can in fact destroy itself through its own inflexibility and subsequent coagulation. To be able to handle a crisis means to understand timing and necessity when looking at issues. Without a sense of when and if, the best laid plans can actually exacerbate a crisis. Perhaps the Samurai ethic might help: if one is constantly resigned to the perpetual threat of death, one is likely to be calm and brave enough to handle both sudden and creeping crises. [11]

[1] Mallinson, William, ‘The English Communicative Approach: The Death of Grammar and of Effective Foreign Language Learning’, Twenty Years DFLTI Festschrift, Ionian University, Diavlos Books, Athens 2007, p. 293.
[2] Weller, Marc, ‘The Rambouillet Conference in Kosovo’, International Affairs, Chatham House, London, Vol.75, No.2, April 1999.
[3] Orwell, George, Politics and the English Language, Horizon, London, April 1946.
[4] Berridge, G. R., International Politics, Pearson Education, Harlow, 2002. The book actually begins with the words: ‘International politics (or international relations) […].
[5] Mallinson, William, Public Lies and Private Truths: An Anatomy of Pubic Relations, Leader Books, Athens, 2000, pp. 103-113. First published by Cassell, London and New York, 1996.
[6] Seitel, Fraser P., The Practice of Public Relations, Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, Columbus, Ohio,1984, p. 488.
[7] The first serious world war was the Seven Years’ War, the second the Napoleonic War(s), and the third, the Great War.
[8] Mccgwire, Michael, ‘Why did we bomb Belgrade?’, International Affairs, vol. 76, no.1, January 2000.
[9] Parenti, Michael, Inventing Reality, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1993, p. 164.
[10] Pettifer, James,’ We have been here before’, The World Today,vol. 54, no. 4, Chatham House, London, April 1998. and Lutovac, Zoran, ‘European and American Diplomacy in Kosovo’, Eurobalkans, no. 32, Aegina, Greece, Autumn 1998.
[11] Mishima, Yukio, Yukio Mishima on Hagakure: The Samurai Ethic and Modern Japan, Souvenir Press, London, 1977.