With the bomb going off in the hands of the minister’s adjutant, killing him instantly, the security nakedness of the whole shop was revealed starkly and painfully.
Report after report brought relentless witness testimony to the front pages for all to digest: the ministry has no effective explosives detection equipment; nobody is really in charge of monitoring what enters the ministry building; the aide killed in the explosion routinely opened all mail destined for his boss without the slightest support of detection technologies; in fact, no government building is in any way prepared to intercept explosive devices.
It all sounds rather surreal in the world that surrounds us today but, in Lego Country, that’s how things “work.”
Anyone who has even the slightest inclination to follow law enforcement issues in Greece comes away disheartened and alarmed every time. Beginning at the level of the beat cop (a euphemism since foot patrols in Greece have bit the dust years ago, save ‘showcase’ locations in large cities) and reaching all the way up to the “leadership,” attitudes, training, day-to-day tactics, “mindset,” and longer term “strategies” gives one a sense of desperation, to put it mildly.
Where can we begin?
With the plethora of young recruit officers, still attending the police school, being deployed on patrol visibly uncertain as to what is exactly happening to them?
With the obvious scratching of minimum physical standards for patrol officers resulting in battalions of light-boned, light-weight, and light-bodied keepers of the public peace, who have no living chance in an even average physical confrontation with suspects and perpetrators?
With the increasing numbers of female youngsters in police uniform who sport long pony tails while on duty, an open invitation to any hoodlum, pimp, or cutthroat to reach, grab, pull, and snap an unsuspecting peace officer’s neck -- who nevertheless carries Glock and telescopic baton and serious-looking cuffs?
With rundown “police stations” that resemble abandoned inner city tenements rather than houses of law enforcement?
And with a generalized sense of resignation in the ranks that “this is how it is,” which translates into mortal morale buckling and loss of every confidence in the staying power of the “security agencies” by those supposedly recruited to man the Front Line?
It all sounds impossibly unbelievable, but, in Lego Country, that’s how “law enforcement” is conducted.
Since April the port of Piraeus, Greece’s largest, remains under siege from a communist labor front that controls mariners’ unions. With tourism, the country’s chief foreign cash earner after global shipping, headed into treacherous territory this year, and with the economy in a deep oceanic trench from which it will most likely not escape, these communist operatives have been allowed by the government to take control of the harbor and domestic passenger shipping.
According to their whim, dictated directly by the Greek Communist Party, approximately three hundred storm troopers, without brown shirts but with plenty of red banners, beards, sneakers, and cutout jeans, strike at will and block ship departures, stranding thousands of travelers every time. In earlier action, these same modern-day pirates interfered with cruise ships, blocking thousands of foreign tourists from reaching their ships and causing the kind of international newscast havoc that is an IED even the toughest-minded, most determined tourist industry cannot survive.
In less visible action, these same communist-led “seamen” (mostly professional agitators without the slightest relation to the deck fraternity) held two Italian-owned, British-flagged ferry boats hostage in a secondary Greek harbor for nearly four weeks -- demanding that the owners hire Greek marine workers and fire their already serving crews.
What was the response of the Greek government to this thuggery that made Greece the laughingstock of the world and added several million of euros to the “Loss” column? “Sources” at the same police ministry, whose chief was nearly blown to smithereens by the bomb that killed his aide after passing through all “security” without being detected, let it be known that “strikes” (i.e. piracies) like these cannot be “resolved through confrontation” but, rather, only through “political means.”
Gasps of disbelief and roaring laughter aside, this is the way the public interest, the right of people to travel unhindered, and the nation’s collective good, are “protected” in Lego Country.
With fears about the stability and survivability of Greece in the next few months mounting among foreign observers and government officials, we are often asked questions by foreign interlocutors about Greek government “action” regarding this or that area of “mounting concern.” Usually, these questions are couched on mention of what governments in other countries would do to meet a challenge, embellished with suggestions and conclusions from experiences gathered and, eventually, incorporated into “standard operating procedures.”
These interlocutors are left with mouths gaping when we respond that we have nothing of substance to add to the discussion from a “Greek angle” because, simply, there is no “Greek angle” on scores of critical issues, actions, tactics, and strategies because nobody would really go into the bother of getting tangled in them and risking having to follow up long term -- with all the costs and commitments such action entails.
While international spotlights remain focused on a seemingly unstoppable swirl of country-saving action by the Powerbook-totting, Kindle-bearing, kayak-rowing Greek prime minister -- 109 foreign trips in six-seven months, all at the expense of the groaning taxpayer but for the good of the country -- and the gambling tables of the “spreads,” “default insurance,” and the “bailout package,” foreign correspondents, including “established area experts,” almost entirely miss the contours of the Lego Country. And Mr. Papandreou and his ministers, busy as they are with decimating this country in order to save it, are among the most prominent current practitioners of this established Greek work ethic.
In the end, the game is very much preordained: no Lego construct, even the biggest, most elaborate, and hard to build, can withstand serious tremors.
Survivors are left with the pieces.