Του Δρος. Δημήτρη Ρομποτή*
Πριν λίγες μέρες κυκλοφόρησαν άρθρα στην Ελλάδα για τον Ελληνοαμερικανό Ναύαρχο εν αποστρατεία Τζέημς (Δημήτριος) Σταυρίδη, ο οποίος σε πρόσφατη εκδήλωση του τουρκικού λόμπυ εμφανίστηκε βασιλικότερος του βασιλέως αναφορικά με την υποστήριξή του στις θέσεις της Τουρκίας. Επόμενο ήταν αυτή η εμφάνιση και ομιλία να προκαλέση το “εθνικό” μας αίσθημα, καθώς ο κ. Σταυρίδης εκτός από ελληνικής καταγωγής είναι και γόνος προσφύγων της Μικράς Ασίας που έφυγαν κακήν κακώς κατά τη Μικρασιατική Καταστροφή για να γλιτώσουν από εκείνους τους οποίους σήμερα ο ίδιος εκθειάζει ως φυσικούς συμμάχους! Ωστόσο, για όσους έχουν παρακολουθήσει την πορεία του εν λόγω ναυάρχου, δεν θα έπρεπε η τοποθέτηση αυτή να αποτελέση έκπληξη, ήταν καθόλα αναμενόμενη θα έλεγα. Για την ακρίβεια, σας τα έλεγα 10 χρόνια πριν, τόσο πριν που φαίνεται ότι ξεχάστηκαν αν λήφθηκαν και καθόλου υπόψη. Αφορμή στάθηκε άρθρο στην Ισραηλινή εφημερίδα Χααρέτζ το οποίο ανεφέρετο σε βιβλίο που είχε γράψει ο κ. Σταυρίδης όπου περιέγραφε μεταξύ άλλων τις διώξεις που υπέστη η οικογένειά του. Μόλις όμως διορίστηκε αρχηγός της πτέρυγας του ΝΑΤΟ που κάλυπτε και την Τουρκία, ανεκάλεσε τα γραφόμενά του, λέγοντας πόσο χαρούμενος ήταν που ανακάλυψε εκ νέου την Τουρκία, πατρίδα των γονιών του! Με άρθρο μου στο ΝΕΟ magazine τον Νοέμβριο του 2009 (10 χρόνια πριν) έκρουσα τον κώδωνα του κινδύνου προς την την ελληνοαμερικανική κοινότητα επειδή διάφορες οργανώσεις είχαν αρχίσει να τον τιμούν με πλακέτες δεξιά κι’αριστερά. Φυσικά, στα αρχίδεια τους, εξακολούθησαν να το κάνουν μέχρι και σχετικά πρόσφατα. Ναύαρχος νά’ναι με ελληικό όνομα κι΄ό,τι νά’ναι! Στο σημείο αυτό, επιτρέψτε μου να διευκρινίσω ότι είναι δικαίωμα του κ. Σταυρίδη να λέη και να κάνη ό,τι θέλει, είναι Αμερικανός πολίτης, διακεκριμένος αξιωματικός, δεν τον θεωρώ “προδότη” ή “μειοδότη”. Η περίπτωσή του όμως φανερώνει ότι η καταγωγή δεν παίζει μεγάλο ρόλο στα υψηλά αξιώματα και δεν θα πρέπη να εκλαμβάνουμε την υποστήριξη Ελληνοαμερικανών αξιωματούχων ως δεδομένη όσον αφορά στα λεγόμενα εθνικά μας θέματα. Οι Τούρκοι που έχουν επενδύσει τόσα χρήματα και χρόνο το ξέρουν καλύτερα… Ακολουθεί το άρθρο που έγραψα πριν 10 χρόνια όπως και το άρθρο της Χααρέτζ. Είναι στα αγγλικά κι’αν δεν καταλαβαίνετε χρησιμοποιήστε Google Translate γιατί βαριέμαι να το μεταφράσω…
US Admiral James Stavridis:
A born again …Turk, embracing the heritage that massacred his own ancestors?
We all understand the rules of the game: in order to sustain and progress in a career oftentimes you have to make concessions, compromise your beliefs (up to a point, hopefully), even kiss ass, as we say in modern day French. But to reverse yourself in such a way that you’ve come almost to the opposite end, wrapping everything in a kind of …positive personal rediscovery…I think goes beyond the tolerated back bending!
I was reading, as I often do, the online English edition of the Israeli daily Haaretz – which I strongly recommend for its coverage and analytical depth of international news that far surpasses all major US newspapers combined – when an article by Amir Oren on James Stavridis, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), whose appointment earlier this year we all celebrated, hit me in the eye. “US NATO Chief blames Turkey for ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Greeks, including own family”, was the title of the piece and immediately drew my attention (you can read the Haaretz article following this one) because we are not very used to hear this kind of language from American Greeks when in positions of power.
On the upper echelons, our people seem to be in awe, they agonize to look and sound “pragmatic,” they consider it forbidding to stand up to their superiors when it comes to such clear-cut issues as the Turkish invasion of Cyprus or state-sponsored persecutions by Turkey against the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). As both issues coincide with our American values, we should feel honoured as Americans to raise them. This tendency to somehow prove your Americanism by playing down another component of your identity at the expense of truth and justice is something that has to be studied both from a psychological and a social perspective. It is certainly an inferiority complex that other ethnic or religious groups are not suffering from, at least not as much. Imagine a Cuban American, for example, in position of power. Won’t he or she be as vocal as possible when it comes to bringing the Castros down? Not to mention the grievances of our Jewish or Armenian friends.
Anyway, back to Kaptan Pasha (admiral in Turkish) Stavridis, who prior to resuming his duties as NATO Europe commander, had published a book titled “Destroyer Captain,” and in a very straightforward manner was saying that “in the early 1920’s, my grandfather, a short, stocky Greek schoolteacher named Dimitrious Stavridis, was expelled from Turkey as part of ‘ethnic cleansing’ (read pogrom) directed against Greeks living in the remains of the Ottoman Empire. He barely escaped with his life in a small boat crossing the Aegean Sea to Athens and thence to Ellis Island. His brother was not so lucky and was killed by the Turks as part of the violence directed at the Greek minority.” Then, in an interview about the “Destroyer Captain” on the U.S. Naval Institute web, he stood by his writings, saying “l let others decide if it’s a good book, but I truly believe it is an honest book.”
Now, it is expected and understood that the Turks exerted pressure on his superiors for Stavridis to recant because they didn’t like what he wrote. In fact, if he were a Turkish citizen he would go to jail for offending Turkishness by mentioning anything about the massacres or genocides they committed. Given that Stavridis has under his jurisdiction Turkey, as well, one would expect him to come up with some explanation that, while it would placate the Turkish “sensitivities,” wouldn’t reverse the premises of his writings in his “honest book”. After all, he’s an American officer, and although politics should be taken into consideration, there is a limit to bowing your head. He could say, for example, that it was tough times then, uncertainty prevailed, massacres were common in the late Ottoman Empire, but we need to put all that behind us and look forward.
Mais non! Stavridis, fearing perhaps the wrath of the Pashas – that even made his boss, President Obama, initially keep secret and then play down his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople while visiting Turkey earlier this year– had to go even further, discovering in the process his own …Turkishness!
As Amir Oren reports, “last March, during his Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, the ethnic cleansing he sharply rebuked in the book (and which he contrasted with U.S. efforts worldwide to prevent) underwent some semantic cleansing. ‘It’s probably worth noting that although I’m ethnically Greek, my grandfather was actually born in Turkey and came through Greece on his way to the United States,’ he said, as if equally proud of his double origin, much like the child of divorced parents boasting that he now has two families rather than only one.”
Then “last July”, Oren continues, “having visited Turkey as NATO and EUCOM chief, he again chose similar words to describe his personal connection to the country that ill-treated his grandparents. ‘Turkey is a vital and important NATO ally,’ he blogged, ‘and for me it was a chance to return to the nation from which my grandfather and grandmother emigrated to the United States, after stopping briefly in Greece.”
As we can see, his grandparents’ agonizing escape in order to save their lives, in Stavridis’ new language is made sound like an ordinary trip with a stopover in Greece, perhaps to see Parthenon and buy some Metaxa on their way to the US. Turkey even appears like the missing part on the puzzle of his identity!
I could even imagine descendants of German Jews who survived the Holocaust, to somehow re-appreciate the Teutonic part of their ancestry. It is possible, because Germans confronted their crimes, accepted responsibility and pledged never to allow that ideological venom to be part of the country’s political culture. Turks on the other hand, not only never accepted responsibility for the various genocides perpetrated as a result of state planning (read Turkish Historian Taner Akcam’s book “A Shameful Act”), but they continue the practice to this date. I’ve been tired to write that as we speak, illegal confiscations on Patriarchal property (about 80% has been usurped so far) are under way. While the European Human Rights Court has repeatedly condemned Turkey, a candidate for entry into European Union, Ankara pays no attention or gives lip service to declarations of good will. In the occupied part of Cyprus, the ethnic cleansing is complete. In Turkey proper, Alevite Muslims are complaining that the state drives them to cultural extinction and Kurds (more than 15 million) are still fighting the Turkish state on the mountains of the Kurdistan region. Current Prime Minister Erdogan went to jail, just before was elected to office, for reciting a pro Muslim poem. Even Nobel laureate author Orhan Pamuk was taken to court and almost got imprisoned because in a work of his the Armenian Genocide – the first Holocaust in the annals of the nation state experience – is mentioned.
It’s for the crimes that are still being committed by Turkey that people mustn’t and can’t forget the genocides upon which that state has been built. We owe this not only to past victims, but also to current victims, to all Turks, no matter what religion or nationality they belong too. Confronting the crimes is the only way that the country can really move forward and become a democratic and free society for all her peoples.
Stavridis’ change of course serves just the opposite end by boosting Turkey’s worst legacy and its “constitutional guarantor,” the Army. By playing their own game he became a by default genocide (of his own ancestors) denier and he ethically compromised his position as an American officer, sworn to stand by the values this nation was built on, not Turkey.
U.S. NATO CHIEF BLAMES TURKEY FOR ‘ETHNIC CLEANSING’ OF GREEKS, INCLUDING OWN FAMILY
By Amir Oren
Ha’aretz, Thursday, October 15, 2009 Tishrei 27, 5770
U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the senior American officer in both
the U.S. European Command and NATO, blames Turkey for violence against
its Greek minority, including his own family, almost 90 years ago.
In a first-person book he published last year, before he took over
as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Stavridis termed
Turkey’s moves “ethnic cleansing” and a “pogrom,” whose victims
included his grandparents, expelled from their hometown of Izmir,
and his father’s uncle, who was killed by violent anti-Greek Turks.
Fighter planes from United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and
other elements under Stavridis’ command were to have taken part in
the Anatolian Eagle exercise, from which the U.S. withdrew earlier
this week, after Turkey barred Israel from participating. Stavridis
is closely supervising the upcoming American-Israeli Juniper Cobra air
and missile defense exercise, and is scheduled to visit Israel soon.
After being nominated to his current position, a mere year after
publishing these charges against Turkey, Stavridis dropped the
negative reference to Turkish treatment of his family and other ethnic
Greeks. His current, sanitized version depicts Turkey as a starting
point for a one-stop journey west to America.
Stavridis, a 1976 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was born in
Florida and hardly speaks any Greek. As a child, he lived for two
years in Athens, where his father, a U.S. Marine Corps officer, served
in the American Embassy alongside a U.S. Navy officer whose daughter
Stavridis later married. The four-star admiral is widely acclaimed as
a brilliant officer, with a Ph.D. in international relations and an
impressive record of command and staff positions. Currently, he wears
two hats: In addition to his job at NATO – of which Turkey is a member,
with forces serving in Afghanistan and working to prevent terr across
its border with Iraq – he heads the U.S. European Command (EUCOM),
which includes Greece, Turkey and Israel among its dozens of countries.
A prolific writer of books and articles, with his own blog (“From
the Bridge”) on the EUCOM web site, Stavridis kept a journal of
his experiences during the 28 months he commanded the destroyer
USS Barry, from early fall 1993 to December 1995. During that time,
the Aegis-class warship, armed with powerful radar and anti-missile
missiles (of the sort taking part in Juniper Cobra), was deployed in
crises the world over – off Haiti, in the Mediterranean and in the
In 2008, before he learned he would be appointed NATO’s military chief
– the first ever from the navy – he published his 1990s journal as
a book, “Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command.” Thus the
manuscript he authored in his late thirties, as a relatively junior
Commander, was launched into the public domain more than a dozen
years later, when he was five ranks higher.
In “Destroyer Captain,” Stavridis does not try to be diplomatic. “In
the early 1920’s,” he wrote, “my grandfather, a short, stocky Greek
schoolteacher named Dimitrious Stavridis, was expelled from Turkey
as part of ‘ethnic cleansing’ (read pogrom) directed against Greeks
living in the remains of the Ottoman Empire. He barely escaped with
his life in a small boat crossing the Aegean Sea to Athens and thence
to Ellis Island. His brother was not so lucky and was killed by the
Turks as part of the violence directed at the Greek minority.”
The “most amazing historical irony I could imagine,” according to the
author, was when a multinational NATO exercise off the coast of western
Turkey brought him to the place his grandfather was forced out of: “His
grandson, who speaks barely a few words of Greek, returns in command
of a billion-dollar destroyer to the very city – Smyrna, now called
Izmir – from which he sailed in a refugee craft all those years ago.”
In an interview about “Destroyer Captain” on the U.S. Naval Institute
web l let others decide if it’s a good book, but I truly believe it
is an honest book.”
He was, however, less than fully candid last March, during his Armed
Services Committee confirmation hearing. The ethnic cleansing he
sharply rebuked in the book (and which he contrasted with U.S. efforts
worldwide to prevent) underwent some semantic cleansing. “It’s probably
worth noting that although I’m ethnically Greek, my grandfather was
actually born in Turkey and came through Greece on his way to the
United States,” he said, as if equally proud of his double origin,
much like the child of divorced parents boasting that he now has two
families rather than only one.
Last July, having visited Turkey as NATO and EUCOM chief, he again
chose similar words to describe his personal connection to the country
that ill-treated his grandparents. “Turkey is a vital and important
NATO ally,” he blogged, “and for me it was a chance to return to the
nation from which my grandfather and grandmother emigrated to the
United States, after stopping briefly in Greece.”
The Turkish military is not in the habit of ignoring criticism,
even from fellow officers. Last February, when Haaretz reported the
stinging attack on Turkish actions in Cyprus and against Armenian
civilians voiced by Israeli Ground Forces commander Maj. Gen. Avi
Mizrahi, the uproar in Ankara made Israel Defense Forces Chief of
Staff Gabi Ashkenazi call his counterpart, Gen. Ilker Sasbug, to
distance the IDF from Mizrahi’s “personal” opinion.
(Εάν δεν επιθυμήτε να λαμβάνετε το …πόνημά μου, παρακαλώ ενημερώστε με και θα σας αφαιρέσω από τη λίστα.)
*Ο Δρ. Δημήτρης Ρομποτής ήταν δημοσιογράφος, έγινε εκδότης και τώρα δηλώνει πολιτικός μηχανικός/οδοντίατρος με ειδίκευση στις …γέφυρες και έδρα τη Νέα Υόρκη. Είναι δε τελειόφοιτος Διδακτορικού, αλλά δεν έχει λάβει πτυχίο για οικονομικούς λόγους, από τη Μεγάλη του Γένους …Χολή!