- Themata Politica — Hellenic and Euro-Atlantic
The author of this volume is professor of philosophy at Towson University, well qualified to deal with diverse subjects and a prolific writer on classic philosophy and related subjects. Themata Politica is a collection of political articles, essays, and one poem. According to the author, they are focused "primarily on political themes relevant to Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem, the obstacles that Turkey faces in the EU [European Union], and the problems that the US war on terror has created for them and the world." There are two main sections of the book: "Part One: Greece, Cyprus and Turkey" and "Part Two: Turkey, Europe and America." Each section consists of twenty articles or essays.
The subject matter of the book is much broader than is suggested in the prologue or by the titles of the two sections. In addition to discourses on current issues in the Eastern Mediterranean and the "war on terror," Evangeliou discusses history, philosophy, and religion from the time of Homer to the present. A central point of many of the chapters is that the rational, polytheistic philosophy of the ancient Greeks was lost with the ascendancy of two dogmatic religions — messianic Christianity and a single-minded Islam — and that this has led to many of the problems of the world today. Evangeliou suggests in several places that a return to the rational and flexible Hellenic approach could be a positive factor in creating a more peaceful and positive system of relations among peoples.
The author discusses in more detail the rivalry between Christianity and Islam, the [End Page 122] division of the Christian church between East and West, the weaknesses he perceives in the Pauline theory of the role of Jesus Christ in the world and the intrinsic violence of Islam, that "infidels" must accept the words of the Prophet Mohammed or die. This includes several long discussions about and excerpts from the New Testament and the Koran that demonstrate the weaknesses in logic he sees in both approaches compared to the rational nature of Hellenic philosophy.
Professor Evangeliou is passionate in describing the merits of the Hellenic spirit, especially its philosophy, bravery, and love of freedom. The early chapters of the book are sprinkled liberally with the adjectives heroic and glorious in this regard. That said, his chapters on history are also informative and well referenced. His discussion of Odysseus as the real hero of The Iliad is a fascinating look at the Trojan War, with colorful descriptions of the main characters. The main point of this chapter is that Odysseus's wiliness is the kind of approach we should take to today's international issues.
The author contends that Greek independence in 1912 was a major factor in the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. He also supports positions taken by the governments of Greece on current issues, such as the Cyprus problem and the legitimacy of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia — agreeing with the argument that the latter should be called "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia." But he does not address in any major way domestic Greek political developments.
Turkey has a prominent place in many of the articles. Evangeliou suggests that the greedy Western Christian Crusaders — by their earlier actions — were in part responsible for the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans in 1453. He wrestles with the history of Turkey since that time, through Ataturk and up to the present Erdogan government. He credits the Ottoman Empire with devising a system under which local entities (millets) were given a significant degree of autonomy but notes that for as long as it could the empire consistently followed a policy of military expansion. Evangeliou considers that even today's Turkey would like to expand into northern Iraq to gain control of the oil fields there.
But more important in the narrative is the question of Turkey's international role, especially in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the...