Ex-NATO supreme commander warns of ‘Grexit security nightmare’

James StavridisAn American former supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has warned that a possible Greek exit from the Eurozone “could become a geopolitical nightmare” for the European Union and NATO. James Stavridis, a retired four-start US Navy admiral, who served as NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2009 to 2013, said solving the Greek crisis should not be left to the central bankers. In an article published Wednesday in Foreign Policy, Stavridis said the financial administrators that are handling the Greek crisis were not sufficiently cognizant of the massive geostrategic implications of a possible “Grexit”.

The retired admiral said that if the Greek economy continues its downward spiral, the country may not be able to fulfil its defense obligations to NATO, in which Greece has held full membership since 1952. As a result, the country may leave not only the EU, but also NATO. Neither organization has ever lost a member-state, said Stavridis, adding that such a development would constitute terra incognita and would “shake both organizations in fundamental ways” by weakening their broader ideological cohesion.

However, said Stavridis, chances are that Greece will remain a member of EU and NATO despite possibly exiting the Eurozone. But it would be “an angry disaffected and battered nation”, he said, and could thus wreak havoc in both organizations. The latter are consensus-driven, meaning that their actions depend on the unanimous agreement of all member-states. If Greece adopted an “uncooperative” attitude, it would easily bring both organizations to a halt when it comes to pressing issues, such the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, the Iranian nuclear program, or even negotiations about transatlantic trade. Currently, Greece’s important geographic position means that its naval bases constitute the maritime flank of NATO during a critical time of tension in the eastern Mediterranean, said Stavridis.

And what if Greece, shunned by the West, started to look elsewhere for support? Russia, which shares strong historical and religious links with Greece, could be a “prospective partner” for Athens, argued Stavridis. If Moscow offered even marginal economic assistance to Athens, Greece could be tempted to further distance itself from its Western partners, both diplomatically and militarily.

Admiral Stavridis’ warning came a day after NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Greece had played “an important role in southern Europe as a NATO member” and urged Athens not to make cuts in its defense spending due to the ongoing economic crisis.

4 Responses to Ex-NATO supreme commander warns of ‘Grexit security nightmare’

  1. cvetko says:

    The general is absolutely right about the Greek possible options in defense …but there are also other countries like Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro that are also option for Russian interest and NATO should not delay not a single day for accepting this countries in membership… The clock is ticking very fast

  2. Peter Wallerberger says:

    Interesting comment – this ‘chink in the armour’ has already been recognised by Russia -hence the Greek Prime Minister haveing twice visited Moscow in the last 60 days, at; of course Puttin’s invitation.

  3. At last someone with links to NATO has publicly recognised the obvious for a change which raises the question as to why wasn’t ISIL nipped in the bud before it started blooming?

    It’s a bit late though to comment on what is now water under the bridge so far as Greece goes and you can safely bet others have spotted these weaknesses and more besides too.

    In this fast moving world we live in it is about time those who are employed to protect us prove they are ahead of the game before ISIL expands even further. China, Russia and NATO should realise that ISIL will soon really start playing China, Russia and NATO off against one another. One could argue it has already started (eg with Russia’s need for buffer zones … but not against NATO).

    The sooner UN Security Council members stop hypocritically bickering for the wrong reasons about Russian colonialism or cyber intrusions and act in unison against Medieval aliens the better for humanity as we would like to know it.

  4. AlbertE. says:

    I am following Greece closely as should everyone else. Exiting the Eurozone and doing away with the euro may mean a melt down of the world financial markets and everything that will represent. Those predictions of Admiral Parry that the existing world order will break down sometimes between 2012 and 2018 may come to pass? Event spiraling out of control in an unanticipated manner not manage-able. With a whole lot of bad for everyone.

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