U.S. leadership matters around the world

I would like to share my experiences to give locals some insight into a world that exists outside Fulton County. I lived in Europe, primarily Greece, for nearly a decade and when I first arrived in 2006, President George W. Bush was despised. I met people who had thrown Molotov cocktails at the American Embassy in protest of the Iraq War, a conflict which was fought in their backyard.

Greeks have always had a tenuous love-hate relationship with the United States. The love comes from allied liberation of Nazi Germany and the hate comes from the U.S. meddling in the bloody civil war which followed WWII and led to the installation of a military dictatorship.

By the time I left in 2014, the Greek economy was crippled, the E.U.’s unity was under threat and the perceived stability of the U.S. served as a beacon of hope. President Barack Obama was adored and admired so much that you could find his likeness on inspirational memorabilia in tourist shops.

Greece has always been a pivot point between the east and the west and given its Orthodox history, there is a deep link and affinity to Russia. Many Russians vacation and invest heavily in Greek islands and infrastructure.

As President Trump brings the U.S. into a new period of isolationism, Eastern Europe seeks a means to rescue their fledgling economies and Vladimir Putin is keenly aware of this situation. He is playing overtures to woo them to stop looking toward the setting sun in the west and start looking to his rising power in the east.

Politics matter. U.S. leadership matters. Why? Because it affects everything from the price of fuel to basic human rights. Whether or not individuals choose to be sheltered from this reality, it exists and these forces will shape the future of our economic prosperity and the world our children will inherit.

TOM SIMEK

Johnstown