Commander Demetries Grimes is a former US naval officer, aviator, Secretary of Defense Executive Fellow, and diplomat. He has served as Naval Attaché to Greece, Naval Attaché to Israel, Deputy Commander of the US base in Crete, and Advisor to NATO’s Maritime Commander in London, UK.
Mr Grimes, I would like to start with the impeachment of Donald Trump and the result in Congress. Do you think that the final vote was fair after the incidents in Capitol?
Aristotle said “for though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first.” Unfortunately, the final vote was fifty-seven “guilty” to forty-three “not guilty, ten votes short of the sixty-seven guilty votes needed to convict. It is disappointing that for forty-three of fifty Republican Senators, truth came second, despite convening at the scene of the crime in the US Senate chamber where they, their fifty Democratic colleagues, America, and the world witnessed the January 6th, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.
Although never before seen videos and audio provided greater clarity regarding the Ex-President’s role in inciting the insurrection, the decision not to interview witnesses denied the prosecution the opportunity to effectively reveal the exact details of the Ex-President’s actions leading up to and during the assault on the US Capitol. The Trump defense team’s focus on exaggerated technicalities and the legal dodge of claiming the Senate had no grounds to put an Ex-President on trial provided an easy out for Republican Senators who either lacked moral courage or feared Trump’s wrath. Despite the overwhelming evidence presented, it appears a number of Republican Senators misinterpreted their oath to “support and defend the Constitution,” as an oath to support and defend the Ex-President.
• The President of the USA, Joe Biden said ‘America is back’ and he reassured European allies of U.S. commitment. What can we expect in foreign policy from now on, in your opinion?
America being engaged in diplomacy with Allies and Partners will be a positive development, especially for Europe as our values and respect for democracy, freedom, and rule of law are aligned. The West faces the greatest challenges ever in defending freedom and democracy from China’s rise as a global military power, Russian disruption, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and rogue NATO Ally, Turkey. While there is talk in Washington about “dealing with the world as it is,” the Biden Administration has much work to do in ensuring the West remains committed to facing these challenges.
It appears, French President Emmanuel Macron is the only Western leader with the courage to address the clear and present danger Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambitions pose beyond Turkey’s borders. France is taking a leadership role in Europe as Germany and the United Kingdom continue to avoid exercising sound judgement and fail to take appropriate action in European security matters. Greece is in the greatest strategic position ever, as a reliable Ally at the frontier of Europe and the West. As such Greece, will continue to play an increasing important role as the key US strategic partner in the region.
• As we all can see, Ankara is raising tensions in Aegean Sea again although Greece is trying to develop the negotiations in our relations. Can USA support the process in order to maintain the peace in Mediterranean area?
Erdogan’s hostile acts embody and represent the types of threats the NATO Alliance and United States are committed to deterring and defeating. Failure to reign in Erdogan has destroyed the credibility of NATO, the EU, and US. As a member of the NATO Alliance, NATO nations and the US should be outraged by Erdogan’s continued assaults on the EU’s borders in Greece and the Aegean, Turkish military occupation of the EU sovereign state, Cyprus, claims to EU Economic Zone hydrocarbon resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, desecration of UNESCO World Heritage Christian monuments, and recent attempts to derail the unification of Cyprus. The US has always been committed to de-escalating tensions between Turkey and Greece. The Biden Administration has much work to do in this effort.
• After the sanctions which US imposed to Turkey for the S-400, can Greece (as a member of NATO) expect the relations of our countries to be more improved?
Greece has always been a reliable and important Ally that respects the rule of law and honors its NATO commitments. Despite the US Congress and Senate’s passing of “The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019,” and US imposed sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in December of 2020 for Turkey’s July 2019 acquisition of an S-400 surface-to-air defense system from Russia, Erdogan remains defiant. Erdogan condemned the sanctions as a “blatant attack” on Turkish sovereign efforts to establish an independent defense industry. And political parties representing a large majority of Turkey’s parliament have issued a joint declaration opposing the US decision.
Turkey’s foreign ministry has stated Turkey “will retaliate in a manner and timing it deems appropriate.” Erdogan has threatened to close Turkish bases to U.S. military personnel and assets.Erdogan is emboldened by the enduring myth of Turkey’s geo-strategic importance, greatly diminished since the end of the “Cold War,” and the decades long failure of the EU, US, and NATO to properly address Turkish aggression.
Turkey’s decades long unreliability as an Ally, its role as a gateway for foreign jihadi fighters between Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and flirtation with China and Russia in advanced weapons procurements, most recently, the Russian S-400 missiles, affirm Turkey cannot be trusted as a NATO Ally. Erdogan’s actions reinforce and highlight the importance of the strategic relationship between Greece and the United States.
• Are you optimistic about the rollout of vaccinations against the covid-19 in USA? American people will be able to travel this year?
The vaccine rollout in the US has been improving daily. According to ourworlddata.org, the US at 19.39 per 100 vaccinated currently ranks 3rdglobally in vaccine administration, with Israel 1st at 87.10 per 100 vaccinated, and the EU 3rd at 6.26 per 100 vaccinated. Many Americans have already begun to travel within the US and many look forward to travel abroad. Greece and Israel’s lead in promoting a vaccine passport is a great initiative that will promote safer travel and country openings.
Peggy K. Dokou
Read the interview in Greek in ‘dimokratiki’ newspaper