365 - The notion of grand strategy on a small island

N. Lygeros
Translated from the Greek by Evi Charitidou

In general, the notion of grand strategy – should we follow Clausewitz ideas – is the continuity of the political rationale in relation to the military element. In this context, a war is not an isolated phenomenon of the tactics that caused it. On the contrary, a war is one of the inevitable situations of a single geostrategic policy. In this article, we will try to interpret the notion of grand strategy for Cyprus.

Geography is one of the most significant elements of the strategy of this island. For, as Lacoste wrote, geography is primarily for waging war. Cyprus’s location in the Mediterranean is of special significance. By itself an island is essentially an independent phenomenon of geography. Its natural context is the sea, since it is the sea that sets its limits. However, in the case of Cyprus localism loses its notion. What is important is the global framework. Thus, Cyprus’s borders are more abstract, because they lack direct contact with its land. And powerful conflicts existing at the borders of Cyprus dramatically shape its strategic entity. In substance, Cyprus cannot exist by itself with the current data.

The second most significant strategic element is the existence of a single piece opponent at the borders. It is not this existence by itself that is decisive; it is rather the dynamics that it creates. And indeed for Cyprus the role of Turkey, even though this may seem paradoxical, is not directly- but rather indirectly- important. Bearing in mind the 1974 violent invasion and its repercussions, a typical analyst would deem this idea exaggerating. Yet, in modern geostrategic context, the significance of Turkey does not come from its stance towards Cyprus, but from the role that she plays at the broader area of the East. Had not been for that role, our natural opponent (in geographical terms) would have lacked the dynamics that now has. Somehow for a small island it does not matter who you are, but who is next to you.

By simple analogy we could say that what does matter is not what you are for yourself, but what you have been for the others. This time, of course, we enter the historic context of strategy. However, in this domain as well everything is a question of interpretation, f.i. for a tree its roots are not only its history, but also its strength and its future, in one word its very life. However, for common sense roots are nothing but the chains of history. Thus, for Cyprus, if we face the past with its sufferings and its pains as a proof of our destiny, it is impossible to resist something. We condemn our own destiny. Whilst, history is a dynamic lesson that few are able to understand. The difficulty does not come from analyzing reality, but from lacking in knowledge as regards strategic data. To transcend our limits we must know them.