Magazine article The Spectator

Greek Greats

Magazine article The Spectator

Greek Greats

Article excerpt

As I write, the Greek football team is about to face the Czechs, by far the most talented team in Euro 2004. Win or lose, the heroic Hellenes have done the rest of us Greeks proud. It's politically incorrect to point this out, but when we beat the French team 11 white Greeks overcame six countries - four African ones, Algeria and France - which made our victory even more remarkable. The British and French empires of yesteryear now offer a great pool of talent denied to nations like Greece. A small country of ten million beat the best that Europe and Africa had to offer, and then some. I almost blubbed. What was wonderful were the Greek supporters, who with 20 minutes to go chanted the Greek national anthem non-stop in order to inspire those down on the field. 'England has never gone to war over the result of a football match . . . ' writes Rod Liddle in last week's Speccie. Wow! Greek supporters have never thrown a bottle through someone's window after a defeat. Three times wow, as far as I'm concerned.

And speaking of civilised people, a letter from a longtime Spectator reader, Mr John Braithwaite, makes me doubly proud. It is all about the simple virtues in life: good manners, courage and integrity, and I thank this particular writer-reader for his erudite letter.

Mind you, there is very little integrity left - in public life, that is. The American neocons, conmen extraordinaire, starting with Richard Perle and David Frum, have made sure their hour is over. All that bullshit about 'empire' and 'benevolent global hegemony' and 'Pax Americana' turned out to be horse manure, except that manure can be useful. The neocons have proved to be useful only to the enemies of the West. Mark the poor little Greek boy's words. America is not going to fight a five- or ten-year war in Iraq. The retreat of the American empire began in Fallujah. With a $500 billion deficit, Uncle Sam does not have the moolah, or the troops, for new wars.

Bush's 'world democratic revolution' was a pipe dream. Ahmad Chalabi fed the pipe with some pretty strong angel dust, and, presto, thousands of dead later, and tens of thousands of maimed and wounded, Iraq is in an even worse state than it was before Saddam was deposed. Here is a man sentenced to 22 years of hard labour for embezzling funds from poor people in Jordan and Switzerland, yet he manages to hoodwink the Bush administration that the road to Middle East peace lies in Baghdad and - listen to this - a restored oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Haifa, one that had been inoperative since the creation of Israel in 1948. …

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