Monday, August 27, 2007

Tragedy slips into farce

I know many people, especially those whose with heightened environmental sensitivities who have turned off their TVs. They cannot bear to see the terrible images of destruction that are flooding the screens here in Greece. Their grief is such that they cannot take any more. For four days we have seen half the country burn while the authorities seem to be helpless to bring the situation under control.

Sadly, the predictions I made yesterday are becoming reality even more quickly than even I could have imagined. The fact that the national elections are almost upon seems to have degraded the level of political debate even further. People are dying, homes are being lost and huge swathes of Greece are still burning while Nikitis Kaklamanis, mayor of Athens, screams about an "asymmetrical threat" (ασυμμετρικη απειλη), a freshly coined term for terrorism.

In doing so he reminds me of the incredibly cynical spin attempt by the Spanish prime minister, Aznar, who rushed to put the blame for the Madrid train bombings on ETA in order to gain votes on the eve of the national elections. A trick that he paid for dearly at the polls when the truth came out. Hell, even I didn't buy into his explanation and I'm no expert on terrorism.

While the fires have certainly been started in part by arsonist, pyromaniacs and the like, the fact that the authorities have failed miserably to deal with them, be they the result of malicious action, indifference or plain stupidity is testament to the fact that the present government, as the previous ones before it, have not taken the problem of forest fires seriously.

To say that this disaster is the result of some organised terrorist action is a amoral attempt by the New Democracy government to deflect criticism about its role in this catastrophe. I really hope it bites them in the ass in the elections.


Lesley said...

"Smokescreen" is the word that comes to mind every time I hear about the Greek government invoking a possibility of this tragedy being a terrorist attack.

teacher dude said...

A shoddy, little lie that they are rapidly trying to rein in.