What makes Sfikas such powerful reading is that he describes the Greek perspective as richly as the British. 'Non-intervention' refers to the way the British Labour government that succeeded the wartime coalition government led by Churchill in July 1945, against expectations effectively continued his strategy without his uniquely personal involvement in Greek affairs.
Other good books on the Anglo-Hellenic relationship have told me more about the British than the Greeks. In Sfikas' first chapter - all I've read so far - the story unfolds relentlessly, as the author moves between the British players, the American and the Greek, with descriptions of individuals, their statements - private and public - their correspondence, dates, places; the tensions building up in Greece between Venezelists and Monarchists and their shifting allies in the years after World War I, the end of the Great Idea 'in the sands of Asia Minor', the Greek army in retreat followed by two million refugees, the effects of the Great Depression in the growth of the Left, the trends that brought the dictatorship of Metaxas, and the rise of the influence of the Communist party as the chief organiser of Greek resistance once Italy had failed and then the Nazis had succeeded in occupying Greece; the apparent abruptness with which Churchill, even as allied forces were fighting intensively in France and closing on the borders of Germany, began the high strategy that would become the Cold War between 'us' and the USSR - our ally; meetings with Stalin. The percentages agreement, was described in 1954 in Churchill's memoirs:
The moment was apt for business, so I said [to Stalin], "Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Roumania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don't let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety percent predominance in Roumania, for us to have ninety per cent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?" While this was being translated I wrote out on a half-sheet of paper:
I pushed this across to Stalin, who had by then heard the translation. There was a slight pause. Then he took his blue pencil and made a large tick upon it, and passed it back to us. It was all settled in no more time than it takes to set down…After this there was a long silence. The pencilled paper lay in the centre of the table. At length I said, "Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper". "No, you keep it", said Stalin.Roosevelt waited on a near bankrupt British Empire. Churchill and Stalin diced for the territories of the new Europe and Churchill took Greece, to ensure the route between Britain and her oil. Where Sfikas does best is in describing the interaction between events inside and outside Greece - one moment Greeks adapting to the British, the next vice versa. The most cogent part of this story is about the way Churchill through his determination to return a King to Greece and destroy the KKE downplays the rampages of a Right made confident in their vengefulness by British (and later US) support. In a matter of months being a Communist earned worse penalties than having collaborated with the Nazis. Illingworth's cartoon shows a Tommy intervening to prevent internecine strife. No doubt many young British soldiers saw their role just that way. They may have had intuitions, but they would not have read Churchill's message to our General Scobie in Athens after 3 December 1944:
Do not however hesitate to act as if you were in a conquered city where a local rebellion is in progress….We have to hold and dominate
. It would be great thing for you to succeed in this without bloodshed if possible, but also with bloodshed if necessary. Athens
In the cartoon we see the malign figure of Jo Stalin, who we now know had backed out of this confrontation, but there's not a sign of Ernest Bevin, inheritor of Churchill's policies on post-war Greece, nor the President who with the Truman Doctrine, took over Britain's role in Greece, though a member of the government takes refuge behind the stars and stripes.
* * *The typical Greek blogger - Matthaios Tsimitakis of Kathimerini. ...Panteion University has produced the ... survey on Greek bloggers. Who are these people that television channels lauded last summer when they took to the streets to demand the reforestation of fire-ravaged Mount Parnitha, but whom they denounced a few weeks ago when the identity of the people behind press-gr was revealed? What part do bloggers play in public discourse? Is what they do journalism and, if so, what kind? These are just some of the questions that Zafeiris Karambasis, a postgraduate student in the virtual communities program at Panteion, addressed in his research. Though blogs have been around for no longer than 10 years, they have already had a powerful impact, giving expression to new bloggers an even smaller proportion – the most experienced and best-educated users. But they are part of a rapidly growing trend... From the massive response to the death of Amalia Kalyvinou, (See Stavros' comment on MGO) a cancer sufferer who had used her blog to record shortcomings she encountered in the health system, to the organization of the Parnitha protest rally and revelations of torture in Greek police stations, the Greek blogosphere is in line with developments abroad. In just one year, the number of Greek blogs has grown to 40,000, which are read by 500,000, according to government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos. opinions and people that might not otherwise be heard. ...