Category Archives: Greece

Greece: Raped, Humiliated, Frightened But Standing!, by Andre Vltchek

Source: Counterpunch

And on the Greek Menu today
And on the Greek Menu today

A small town of Distomo is just 150 kilometers from Athens, positioned in the heart of Greece, literally squeezed between two great world heritage sites: Delphi, the cradle of the European democracy, and a stunning Byzantine monastery of Hossios Luckas.

But Distomo is much more than some picturesque village surrounded by mountains and history. Here, On June 10, 1944, according to Greek government records, but also according to Western mass media sources like the BBC, “for over two hours, Waffen-SS troops of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Lautenbach went door to door and massacred Greek civilians as part of a ‘retaliation measure’ for a partisan attack upon the unit. A total of 214 men, women and children were killed in Distomo.‪‬ According to survivors, SS forces “bayoneted babies in their cribs, stabbed pregnant women, and beheaded the village priest.”‬‬‬‬‬

Distomo was not the only place where German troops performed despicable crimes against humanity. During the WWII, Greece lost around 8% of its population.

But Distomo became one of the symbols of Fascist madness on European soil, not unlike Guernica or Lidice.

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KOS, BODRUM, DESPERATE REFUGEES AND A DYING CHILD, by Andre Vltchek

The collapsing US Empire has left in its path of chaos an increasing global refugee crisis. What were once stable, growing and promising countries have been reduced to hollow versions of their former selves.

Andre gives us the story of one boy who is just one among millions being affected in our world today.

AE

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These lucky few Syrians just given papers to go to Athens
these lucky few Syrians just given papers to go to Athens

Para gliders are flying over the stunning emerald sea. Summer hordes are descending on a Greek island of Kos from all corners of increasingly aggressive European Union. On the faces of visitors, there seems to be no regret, no shame, that Europe just raped and humiliated Greece, forcing its government to cancel democracy, instead succumbing to dictate of the mighty Germany and other dictatorial powers.

Tourists are busy frying themselves, stuffing their stomachs with seafood and boozing up in countless cafes, bars and restaurants of the old city. Hotels and eateries are packed. It is yet another hot and sunny day. Crisis? What crises? Yes, it is somewhere… there, maybe in Athens, or maybe just outside the city center.

A few minutes away, in a local hospital, which is part of Greek collapsing national healthcare system; an Iraqi child is suffering, perhaps dying, from cancer. He is only 3 years old. His mother most likely passed away trying to reach Kos.

“We found him in a park”, explains Hara, a receptionist from Triton Hotel. “He looked terribly sick. We took him to the hospital, but there, nobody wanted to do anything. We had to scream and demand that this poor child would be attended. They put several IV tubes into his tiny body, and then… nothing else. We called Medicine Sans Frontiers in Athens, but they said they couldn’t deal with such a complicated case. We have no idea what to do. If action is not taken immediately, he will most likely die.”

refugees in Kos
refugees in Kos

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The Radical Reconfiguration of Southern European Politics: The Rise of the Non Leftist Left, by James Petras

Source: James Petras

Introduction: Over the past decade fundamental changes have taken place in Southern Europe, which have broken with previous political alignments, resulting in the virtual disappearance of traditional leftist ’parties, the decline of trade unions and the emergence of ‘middle class radicalism’.

New political movements, purportedly on the left, no longer are based on class conscious workers nor are they embedded in the class struggle. Likewise on the right, greater attention is paid to escalating the repressive capacity of the state instead of state intervention in pursuit of economic markets.

Radicalization of the right, including massive cutbacks in social spending, has demolished welfare programs. The dispossession of households has uprooted cohesive neighborhood-based social organizations.

In place of the class based traditional left, ‘non-leftist left’ movements have emerged. Their leaders embrace ‘participatory democracy’ but engage in vertical political practice.

On the right, politics no longer revolve around conserving national economic privileges. Rightwing leaders willingly subordinate their economies and society to imperial led crusades, which empty national sovereignty of any meaning while pillaging the national treasury.

This essay will proceed to discuss these complex changes and their meaning.

The ‘Non-Leftist Left’ in Southern Europe

The economic crisis, in particular the imposition of severe cuts in wages, pensions and other social welfare programs by rightwing and social democratic governments have led to widespread discontent, which the traditional workplace based leftist parties have been unable to address and mobilize the people. Prolonged and deepening unemployment and the growth of temporary employment have affected over 50% of the labor force.

Union representation has declined precipitously, further weakening the presence of traditional leftist parties in factories.

Large-scale evictions, foreclosure of mortgages and accompanying job losses have led to neighborhood-based anti-eviction movements and struggles. Millions of young workers now depend on their grandparents’ pensions and remain with two older generations in their parents’ home. For the young workers, the degradation of everyday life, the loss of personal autonomy and the inability to live independently have led to revolts for ‘dignity’.

The traditional left parties and trade unions have failed (or not attempted) to organize the unemployed. They have failed to attract the young and the downwardly mobile temporary workers in anything resembling class-based, class struggle-oriented movements.

Paradoxically despite the deepening crisis among most workers, the traditional left has declined. Its workplace orientation and its language of class struggle do not resonate with those without jobs or prospects. For the radicalized middle class the traditional left is too radical in seeking to overturn capitalism and too distant from power to realize changes.

The radicalized middle class includes public employees, professionals and self-employed private contractors who aspire to, and until recently, experienced upward mobility but have now found their path blocked by the austerity programs imposed by rightwing, as well as, social democratic parties.

Frustrated by the social democrats’ betrayal and facing downward mobility, the radicalized middle class are disoriented and fragmented. Many have joined amorphous street protests; some have even embraced, temporarily in most cases, the alternative traditional rightwing parties only to encounter even more brutal job cuts, insecurity and downward mobility.

The middle classes deeply resent being denied the opportunity for upward mobility for themselves and their children. They resent their formerly ‘moderately progressive’ Social Democratic leaders’ betrayal of their interests. Their radicalism is directed toward restoring their past access to social advancement. Their deep-seated hostility to the authorities is rooted in the loss of their previous status as a result of the crisis.

Middle class radicalism is tempered by nostalgia for the past. This radicalism is rooted in the struggle to restore the European Union’s social subsidies and growth policies. They remember a recent past of rising living standards and “social inclusion”, now denied their own children. This vision guides the rhetoric that the progressive middle class had earned and enjoyed theirrising incomes as a result of their own ‘merit’.

Today the radicalized middle class looks for practical, specifically defined and government-sponsored policies that can restore their past prosperity. They do not aim to ‘level the playing field’ for everyone but to prevent their proletariazation. They reject the politics of the traditional left parties because class struggle and worker-centered ideologies do not promote their own social aspirations.

For most radicalized middle class activists the culprits are ‘austerity’, the mega-bank swindlers and the political kleptocrats. They seek parties that can reform or moralize capitalism and restore ‘individual dignity’. They want to kick out corrupt officials. They demand ‘participatory democracy’ rather than the traditional left’s goal of public ownership under worker control.

Under the specific conditions generated by the current social crisis, a non-leftist left (NLL) has emerged throughout Europe. Spontaneous, amorphous, ‘anarchic’, extra-institutional and ‘street-centered’, the NLL has adopted an irreverent style. The NLL, in its origins, rejected political parties, well-defined programs and disciplined cadres in favor of spontaneity and irreverence toward institutions.

As the appeal of the NLL grew, the unemployed, the temporary workers, the insecure and unprotected non-unionized workers and the radicalized middle class joined demonstrations and found safety in the crowds. They were attracted by the appeals from ‘the street’ to oust the incumbent kleptocrats.

Emerging from this movement aimed at the downwardly mobile middle class’ anger, Podemosin Spain, Syriza in Greece and Five Stars in Italy have appealed to all the people disconnected from power, by promising a restoration of ‘dignity and respect.’ They made amorphous appeals to ‘end austerity’ with only a vague promise that they would create jobs.

The NLL leadership, however, is most clearly influenced by the non-radical resentments of the downwardly mobile middle class.

They never engaged in class struggles and have rejected class ideology. For the NLL leaders, social polarization is mostly a vehicle for building an electoral base. Their participation in small-scale local struggles was presented as ‘proof’ that the NLL leaders spoke to authentic popular aspirations.

The Non-Leftist Left’s Transition: From Street to Public Office

From the street, the NLL moved swiftly to elections and from elections they proceeded to form coalitions with traditional parties. Strategic decisions were taken by a small coterie of personalistic leaders: They redefined ‘participatory democracy’ to refer only to local neighborhood activism and issues – not national issues, which were the realm of ‘experts’.

Syriza, the first NLL to reach power, reflected the immense gap between the radical posturingof its leaders in opposition and their cringing conformity before Established Power (the Troika: IMF, European Commission, Central Bank) once elected to government.

Syriza embodied middle class resentment toward the Euro-technocratic elite in Brussels whom they blamed for their loss of past prosperity and job security and for the ongoing degradation of everyday life. Syriza denounced the Troika while it remained under its tutelage. It excoriatedthe EU elite in the highest moral tones for doing what its elite class interests dictated, that is, defend the EU bankers, extract debt payments and threaten their underlings. In practice,Syriza never applied any class analysis to the Troika’s policy as it continued to refer to their ‘EU partners’. ..even as they imposed brutall demands.

Once in power the Syriza leaders never mobilized a single mass protest and never even threatened a general strike in the face of EU colonial dictates.

Syriza’s personalist leader, Alexis Tsipra,s appointed right wingers from former regimes to key posts. He negotiated with the Troika and caved on all strategic issues dealing with debt payments, austerity and privatizations. Syriza never considered ‘going to the people’. Syriza’smoral crusade’ against capitalism ended by their embracing capitalism and the colonial Eurozone system.

Syriza’s lack of class analysis, class struggle and class mobilization and its total commitment to working within a moralized capitalism and the Eurozone to restore middle class status and security has resulted in the most abject conformity and surrender – punctuated by shameless buffoonery on the part of some leaders.

In the end, Syriza surrendered to the dictates of higher powers of the Troika ad their Eurozone acolytes, but not until it had emptied the Greek Treasury. The leaders have combined the worst of all worlds: a bankrupt national economy, a ‘protesting’ but fundamentally colonial regime and a disenchanted electorate.

Where Syriza wildly succeeded was in marginalizing the traditional left (the Greek Communist Party). It reaffirmed the historic pattern: free floating movements of the moment end up being run by personalistic leaders who presume to speak for “the people” while bending over to their overseas overlords.

NLL in Spain and Italy: Podemos and Five Stars

Podemos in Spain and Five Stars in Italy are ready to follow Syriza’s path of colonial subservience. They rejected and successfully marginalized the traditional left. They have gained mass support, organized mass protests and loudly rejected austerity and the dictates of the Troika.

While Podemos leaders talk of ‘participatory democracy’, a handful of leaders make all policy pronouncements, decide which candidates to support in the elections and determine what kind of post-election coalition governments they will join.

What gives Podemos and Five Stars their radical appearance is their opposition to the governing parties, their rejection of ‘austerity’, their criticism of neoliberalism – and their support for ‘micro-politics’ of local grassroots direct-action.

At no time or place have they counterpoised an alternative to capitalism. Nor have they repudiated illicit debts or supported the expropriation of the banks responsible for the pillage their economies.

Podemos and Five Stars deliberately obscure their politics: They are whatever any of their affiliates’ claim to be…

The leaders raise populist demands and speak about ‘dignity’, employment and punishment of corrupt officials. They call for an end to authoritarian measures, but avoid any real commitments to institutional change, especially of the repressive courts, police or armed forces.

Podemos and Five Stars criticize the EU’s austerity programs while staying in the EU as subordinate members of an organization dominated by German bankers. They promote popular mobilizations which they have turned into vote-gathering machines for electing their members to office.

The NLLs contradictory politics of populist gestures and institutional commitments reflect the politics of a frustrated and blocked middle class demanding a restoration of its past status and security. Podemos and Five Stars leaders put on the grand show of thumbing their noses at the establishment to promote limited middle class demands. On a much broader front, the leaders of the NLL have not organized any mass protests – let alone formed a mass movement which would seriously challenge the imperialist powers, NATO, the Middle East wars and US-EU sanctions against Russia.

Since most of their supporters are anti NATO, in favor of Palestinian independence and critical of the Kiev regime the popular base of the NLL will act on their own but will have no real impact on the current national leadership.

The reason for the disparity between leaders and followers is clear: The NLL leaders intend to form post-electoral coalitions with the corrupt and reactionary ‘center left’ parties so despised and rejected by their own electorate.

Following the nationwide Spanish municipal and regional elections, Podemos allied with corrupt Socialist Party (PSOE). In the municipality of Madrid, Podemos supported the left-center coalition Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now), which in turn has allied with the center-right Socialists to elect the ‘progressive’ mayoral candidate, Manuela Carmena.

While the entire ‘progressive camp’ celebrates the defeat of the hard-right Popular Party candidate –little has been said about consequential changes in the municipal and regional budgets, structures of economic power and class relations.

Five Stars’,( Movimento Cinque Stelle or M5S), Italy’s non-leftist left is dominated by a single ‘anti-leader’, Beppe Grillo, he defines the party’s programs and affiliations. He is known for making clownish, provocative gestures against the authorities, calling for a “Fuck the Parliament Day”.

It is Beppe who selects the candidates to run for Parliament. While in opposition, M5S loudly opposed all NATO wars in the Middle East, US military interventions in Latin America and free trade agreements. But now ensconced in the European Parliament, Beppe has aligned with the Libertarian Right.

Five Stars (M5S) central demands revolve around ‘direct democracy’ and ‘sustainable development’. It has captured the electoral support of the majority of the lower middle classgaining 26% of the vote (9 million voters) in the 2013 general elections.

While Beppe and his colleagues engage in fist fights within the Parliament, make radical gestures and spout belligerent rhetoric, ‘M5S’ has not supported a workers general strike. It participates in each and every election, but has stayed away from factory struggles.

Radicalism, as grand ‘gesture politics’, is an entertaining, non-threatening response to capitalism since there is no concerted effort to form class alliances with workers engaged in workplace struggles.

M5S’, like Podemos and Syriza, expresses the disorganized radicalism of the young, frustrated lower middle class raging against their downward mobility, while refusing to breakwith the EU .They rail against the concentration of power in the hands of the banks, but refuse to pursue their nationalization. M5S mobilized 800,000 people in Rome recently but led them nowhere. ‘Five Stars’ convokes crowds to meet and cheer its leaders and to ridicule the power brokers. Afterwards they all go home.

Conclusion

While the ‘NLL’ movements capture the support of the ‘indignant’, the mass of unemployed workers and the evicted householders, their leaders do not articulate a serious plan of action capable of challenging the economic power structures: they raise popular expectations via demands for ‘change’. However, these vague and deceptive slogans allow the NLL leaders to join in a medley of opportunist electoral coalitions and governmental alliances, with decidedly establishment personalities and parties.

In Greece, Italy and Spain the traditional left has either disappeared, or shrunk to a marginal force. With little or no base outside of the workplace and trade unions, they barely secure five percent of the votes.

The NLL has deepened the isolation of the traditional left and has even attracted a part of its social base. NLL’s rejection of the traditional left’s tight organization and top down leadership and its pluralistic rhetoric appeals to the young. Moreover, as the left trade unions have sought compromises with the bosses to save the jobs of employed workers and ignored the unemployed, the latter has looked to the ‘open and spontaneous’ NLL to express their opposition. In Spain’s municipal elections, the United Left, a Communist-led electoral formation, joined with Podemos to elect Manuela Carmena, the ‘insurgent mayor’ of Madrid.

While the Euro-US academic left has rightly celebrated the emergence of mass opposition to the rightist regimes in Southern Europe, they have failed to understand the internal dynamicswithin the NLL movements: the limitations of middle class radicalism and their conformists’ goals.

The example of Syriza in Greece is a warning of the fatal consequences of middle class leaders trying to realize radical changes, within the neo-liberal framework imposed by the EU.

Epilogue

Currently, the best example of the opportunism and bankruptcy of the NLL is found in the successful Mayor-elect of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, whose victory was hailed by Podemos as the ‘great victory for the people’ at recent celebration.

For her part, Mayor-elect Carmena has wasted no time repudiating all ‘five basic emergency reforms’ promised during the elections. In a press conference, the so-called ‘progressive Mayor of Madrid’ announced (with a cynical grin) that ‘promise number one’ – a public bank – was no longer needed because she was satisfied to work with the private banking oligarchy. She refused to pursue ‘promise number two’ – to provide subsidies for electricity, water and gas for poor families cut off from those services, claiming such support was too early and could wait until winter

Regarding Podemos ‘promise number three’ – a debt moratorium, Carmena insisted that “we will keep paying, for now”. On ‘promise number four’ favoring public over private contractors for municipal contracts, Carmena reversed the position: “We can’t change right away”.

Carmena even repudiated ‘promise number five’ – to immediately implement a summer meals program for poor children, insisting that she would rely on the inadequate programs of far right predecessor.

Moreover, Mayor-elect Carmena went even further, staffing her administration with far-right holdovers from the previous government to strategic policy-making positions. For example, sheappointed Carmen Roman, a former Director General of the far right Prime Minister Aznar, as Senior Executive of Madrid. She defended these reactionary decisions claiming that she was looking for “technocrats who are the best professional administrations”. Indeed, Carmen Roman had implemented mass firing of public workers and the dismantling of social programs in the ‘best professional’ manner possible!

Carmena further betrayed her Podemos electorate by insisting she looked forward to working with the hard right Prime Minister Rajoy and flatly rejected the idea of promoting a progressive alternative!

In less than one week, the euphoria over the victory of Podemos backed candidates has been dissipated by these acts of cynical opportunism: the non-leftist left has betrayed its electorate, from the very start!

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Ecuador and Greece – Two Different Struggles, by Andre Vltchek

Source: New Eastern Outlook

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Ask people in Quito, Ecuador about the struggle of Greek nation again EU usurpers and greedy banks. Chances are they will know at least something. Educated people know a lot. I asked, and I was impressed by detailed answers, by awareness.

I also asked, quite recently, in Athens; what is known there about our Latin American revolutions, and about the terrible suffering of people; suffering that is clear a result of devastating actions of pro-Western elites in Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, even in Argentina and Chile. These ‘elites’ are trying to derail “the Process”, on behalf of Western governments and multinationals. They are doing exactly what their predecessors had done in Chile, in 1973, before the coup against socialist President Salvador Allende: spreading right-wing propaganda, creating shortages, and preparing for military coup.

In Athens, I detected absolute bewilderment, ignorance and disinterest. Whenever I began talking about Latin America, the topic was quickly changed.

Greece is white, it is European, and therefore the eyes of entire Western “progressive” world are now directed towards Athens: will its government dare to default, would Greece leave euro-zone and eventually the European Union? As if the answer to this question could change the world; as if Athens is where the fate of humanity will be decided.

Ecuador is predominantly indigenous, and therefore, inhabited by ‘un-people’, to borrow from George Orwell’s colorful terminology. Battered by its own, mainly Euro-centric and pale-skinned ‘elites’ who are enjoying extremely close links with both EU and the United States, Ecuador and its determinedly left-wing government can count very little on international solidarity, especially on the camaraderie from ‘so-called progressive’ forces in the West.

It is not the only one: China, South Africa, Venezuela, Iran and other countries all over the world have been addressed and treated in the most despicable, patronizing, and even racist way by so-called left wing individuals and groups in the West.

The Left got thoroughly defunct in both Europe and in North America. But it continues to be distressingly self-righteous, self-indulged, bossy and arrogant. It does not govern and does not inspire almost anybody, anymore. But it is behaving as if it would be holding some mysterious right to judge and advice others: those who do fight, those who do inspire and those who do govern! It is evident that it wants none-Western socialist and communist governments and movements, those that are now proudly governing all over the world, to go straight to hell!

It is because even the Left in Europe and US is constructed on Christian and Euro-centric mindset, with exceptionalism and supremacist sentiments at its core.

Unable to lead, and most likely unwilling to govern, too lethargic and intellectually spent, most of Western ‘progressive’ thinkers are constantly regurgitating lunatic economic and political theories that no one in other parts of the world, especially the poor world, would ever take seriously, let alone want to implement.

Most of them hide behind ‘anarchism’. Any left-wing leader who gets to govern in Asia, Latin America or Africa, is put under insane and thoroughly detailed scrutiny, and criticized as “undemocratic”, “dogmatic” or worse.

Many Chinese comrades I spoke to in Beijing already completely gave up on the Western Left; they see it, mainly, as the extremely reactionary force (ideologically), which is backstabbing real opposition to Western imperialism.

***

And so, while Greece votes on its financial future, Ecuador is facing one of the most vicious subversions in its history. It is facing it alone. It appears that everyone from none-Latin American left who matters is now in Athens, and as far as I know, there are no solidarity ‘delegates’ descending on Quito!

***

My priority now is Ecuador. My priority is Latin America. This is where I see great battle for the future of humanity taking place. Here and in Asia. Definitely not in Europe!

Latin American governments here are not perfect. But they are doing all they can, after decades and centuries of plunder, after Europe, the United States, in unison with local elites and multinational companies, were pillaging and raping everything “south of the border”.

I described it all in my latest 800-page book: “Exposing Lies of the Empire”. I demonstrated how the Empire is destabilizing country after country. Ecuador may be next.

Corruption could not be eradicated in one year, or in one decade. Things can improve, greatly, in one decade or even in one year, but horror structures built during long centuries of European and North American colonialism and neo-colonialism could not be fully reversed in a short period of time. ‘The Process’ has to be in place for many years, and it has to flow uninterrupted.

Yes, we are not perfect, but we are trying to get better as we go forward. And yes, Latin America is moving forward! We are trying, stumbling and falling, passing through fire, filth, conspiracies and intrigues. It is moving forward, damn it! As others like Russia, China, South Africa and Iran are!

***

Ecuadorian elites are protesting and they are sabotaging everything great that was done by Correa and his administration.

Many of my friends and comrades in Ecuador believe that the coup may happen at any moment, most likely after Pope Francis will end his visit to South America.

Not one word is uttered about great progress; new highways and airports, modern hospitals and schools, medical posts, countless playgrounds for children, free culture, libraries… Right wing in Ecuador owns most of mass media – television stations and newspapers. But not much positive is written about Ecuador by Western ‘progressive’ media outlets, either.

Of course, Western left-wing elite is not writing much good about China, Vietnam, Eritrea, South Africa, Zimbabwe or Iran, either. To Western left wing “purists”, all these countries are actually “not good enough”, not socialist enough, because they don’t follow some socialist or communist path approved by the West. China, Russia and even Ecuador also see democracy extremely differently then European and North American Left. Therefore, they can count of very little support.

***

Greece should default. That fortress, fascist European Union, should not get away with bullying it.

But Greece should fight for internationalist, global ideals, not just for its own gain.

When things were going well, when money was flowing in, when Greek farmers were enjoying driving the latest models of German cars on their newly built smooth motorways, Greek people were content. They were not asking where the money was coming from. Of course money came mainly from plundering of none-Western world, of exploiting those ‘non-people’. That was fine, wasn’t it?

Even now, even recently, many Greeks were complaining bitterly about illegal immigration from Africa! I was told outrageous things that I previously associated with German neo-Nazis. Don’t those writers who are now writing their flattering essays, glorifying Greek nation, know that? Or they pretend not to see and hear?

There is so much open racism in all over Greece! And there is so little solidarity with the rest of the world.

Greece is fighting for its own goals. It’s incomes dropped, from 1.400 to 800 euros a month, per capita, in many cases. Terrible, but in many African nations where money to support Greek farmers often came from in the past (EU was busy finishing African agriculture, making it dependent on its own food production), incomes are sitting at around 30 euros per month. I tried to address these issues in Athens, but encountered stone faces and total bewilderment, even hostility. I was told: “But we are used to different standards! We are not some Africans. We are Europeans!”

And therefore I repeat: what is happening in Greece is not some left wing, internationalist revolution.

Greeks are fighting for Greece. And Latin America is fighting for humanity! It never exploited anybody. It sends doctors, teachers, all over the world. It sends oil to the poor, even in the United States. It supplied unfortunate countries like East Timor with instructors. It offers solidarity to Palestine, Iran, and to so many others!

***

If Ecuador will get under direct fire, I will go back, and I will stand by its people, doing all that I could to support it. The revolution may survive, or it may not. It will be extremely tough fight with uncertain outcome. Many people will die.

As many wrote: Greece will survive. “It is, after all, in Europe”. Even when it is down, it is, somehow, up. It will not disappear; will not get raped. There will be no tanks sent to the streets again, to murder its people.

We, “down here”, may not get another chance. The Empire will try to smash all resistance in Latin America, in what it considers to be its own backyard. Then if we fall, entire non-Western world may be forced to return to square zero!

But everyone is now in Athens!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism. Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his websiteor his Twitter.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

 

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Eastring vs. Balkan Stream: The Battle For Greece, by Andrew Korybko

Russia wasn’t bluffing when it said that Turkish Stream would be the only route for Ukrainian-diverted gas shipments after 2019 , and after dillydallying in disbelief for over six critical months, the EU has only now come to its senses and is desperately trying to market a geopolitical alternative. Understanding that its need for gas must absolutely continue to be met by Russia for the foreseeable decades (regardless of trans-Atlantic rhetoric), the EU wants to mitigate the multipolar consequences of Russia’s pipeline plans as much as it feasibly can. Russia wants to extend the Turkish Stream through Greece, Macedonia, and Serbia, in a project that the author has previously labelled as “ Balkan Stream ”, while the EU wants to scrap the Central Balkan route and replace it with one along the Eastern Balkans via Bulgaria and Romania, the so-called “Eastring” line.

Although Eastring could theoretically transit Caspian gas being shipped through the TAP pipeline, the proposal being thrown around most lately is for it to link to Turkish Stream instead, likely because the possibly projected 10-20 bcm a year from the former (Azerbaijan’s reserves may not be capable of meeting the demand without Turkmen assistance, which is far from assured at this point) is dwarfed by the guaranteed 49 bcm from the latter. If Europe does intend for Eastring to connect to Turkish Stream, then Russian gas supplies would reach the continent regardless of the route involved (Central Balkans or Eastern Balkans), meaning that it’s a win-win for Russia…supposedly. The strategic differences between Eastring and Balkan Stream are actually quite acute, and coupled with the implied motivational impetus revealed by the EU’s Eastring-Turkish Stream connective proposal in the first place, it means that they must be analyzed more in-depth before anyone jumps to a predetermined conclusion about Eastring’s ‘mutually beneficial’ nature.

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Paul Craig Robert’s address to the conference on the European/Russian Crisis in Delphi, Greece on June 20-21

Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster.

The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence in the US government. The neoconservatives have interpreted the Soviet collapse as History’s choice of “American democratic capitalism” as the New World Order.

Chosen by History as the exceptional and indispensable country, Washington claims the right and the responsibility to impose its hegemony on the world. Neoconservatives regard their agenda to be too important to be constrained by domestic and international law or by the interests of other countries. Indeed, as the Unipower, Washington is required by the neoconservative doctrine to prevent the rise of other countries that could constrain American power.

Paul Wolfowitz, a leading neoconservative, penned the Wolfowitz Doctrine shortly after the Soviet collapse. This doctrine is the basis of US foreign and military policy.

The doctrine states:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

Notice that Washington’s “first objective” is not peace, not prosperity, not human rights, not democracy, not justice. Washington’s “first objective” is world hegemony. Only the very confident so blatantly reveal their agenda.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Paul Craig Robert’s address to the conference on the European/Russian Crisis in Delphi, Greece on June 20-21

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Greek Debt Committee Just Declared All Debt To The Troika “Illegal, Illegitimate, And Odious”

It was in April when we got a stark reminder of a post we first penned in April of 2011, describing Odious Debt, and why we thought sooner or later this legal term would become applicable for Greece, because two months ago Greek Zoi Konstantopoulou, speaker of the Greek parliament and a SYRIZA member, said she had established a new “Truth Committee on Public Debt” whose purposes was to “investigate how much of the debt is “illegal” with a view to writing it off.”

Moments ago, this committee released its preliminary findings, and here is the conclusion from the full report presented below:

All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.

As we predicted over four years ago, Greece has effectively just declared that it will no longer have to default on its IMF (or any other debt – note that the dreaded “Troika” word finally makes an appearance after it was officially banned) simply because that debt was not legal to begin with, i.e. it was “odious.”

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Greek Debt Committee Just Declared All Debt To The Troika “Illegal, Illegitimate, And Odious”

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Why Syriza Failed, by Yves Smith

This is a wonderfully written piece that accurately captures the Greek situation. Thank you to Pepe’s Corner for bringing it to our attention.

We would also encourage for readers to explore the other brief material that we have selected to publish on the unfolding Greek ‘situation’ (read: Banker led destruction of a whole country).

You can read that here.

While reading on the ongoing obituary of Syriza, one cannot help but notice how much of an amazing airbag function the party has performed. As Dagmar Henn has previously said, the party was successful in stopping the mobilization of the Greek people.

AE

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Yves here. While the path for the ruling Greek government to make a deal with its creditors is fraught, it is pressing forward to try to come to an agreement by the next Eurogroup meeting, May 11. Greece has an IMF payment due May 12 that it will find difficult to meet. With the new urgency and the, um, realignment of the negotiating team, the odds now look to favor Greece capitulating even in the event of a default even if the ruling coalition tries holding ground on some of its red lines like pensions. If a default were to occur, it’s not hard to imagine that the IMF and the ECB would make Greece an offer it can’t refuse: the IMF would reverse itself on giving Greece a grace period for its payment if it relented on the disputed issues, otherwise the ECB would have no choice in light of the default to remove or limit its support under the ELA That would force Greece to impose capital controls, nationalize its banks, and issue drachma to recapitlaize them. Both the Greek public and most Syriza members are opposed to a Grexit.

Tsipras continues to send mixed signals on its intentions. He has veered time and time again from making cooperative noises when he encounters resistance from the creditors to making defiant statements to appeal to voters. Consider this section from the Financial Times yesterday that we flagged in Links:

The moves come as senior Greek ministers have publicly acknowledged in recent days that they may be forced to accept economic measures they have been attempting to avoid, a sign they are preparing Greek voters for concessions.

Today, the Financial Times has Tsipras again taking up a defiant posture and saying he might be forced to call a referendum. We’ve said that the likely lead time makes that impossible (as in Greece will almost certainly default before a referendum can take place) and the Eurogroup chief Jeroen Djisselbloem cleared his throat and said pretty much the same thing (which may amount to calling the Tsipras idea a bluff). From today’s Financial Times:

Greece’s leftwing prime minister has warned that he would hold a referendum if international creditors insisted on a “vicious circle of austerity” as the key to unlocking urgently needed bailout money.
Hours after making a conciliatory gesture to Greece’s eurozone partners with a reshuffle of his negotiating team on Monday, Alexis Tsipras struck a more defiant note….

A referendum could lead to weeks of continued uncertainty about Greece’s solvency. A plan by Athens to hold a plebiscite in 2011 was effectively scuppered by eurozone leaders. But some officials also believe it could be a way for Mr Tsipras to win public support for an eventual reform programme.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who leads the Greek negotiations as head of the eurogroup, said he did not think a referendum was a feasible option for Mr Tsipras given the urgent need for a deal so that bailout cash can be disbursed soon.

“It would cost money, it would create great political uncertainty, and I don’t think we have the time,” Mr Dijsselbloem told Dutch radio. “And I don’t think the Greeks have the time for it.”

[Please click below to continue reading]

Continue reading Why Syriza Failed, by Yves Smith

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President of ECB gets a message from the people

draghi attack 2_0

The biggest star of today’s ECB’s press conference was not Mario Draghi but 21-year-old German feminist, Josephine Witt, an ex-Femen activist who jumped on Draghi’s desk wearing an “ECB Dick-tatorship“, a slogan she repeatedly screamed as she was led away by security guards. She threw paper copies of her demands at Mr Draghi, while showering him with confetti that were created from her finely chopped up manifesto.

josephine witt

According to the Telegraph, “to gain access to the press conference, the ECB said Ms Witt “registered as a journalist for a news organisation she does not represent”. Ms Witt told The Telegraph that she ha d pretended to be working for Vice Media, knowing that they hire many young reporters. The central bank said that it is investigating the incident.”

Ms Witt said she would continue to engage in “hardcore activism” in response to what she believed was an “undemocratic” ECB. She added that recent protests in Frankfurt during the opening of the ECB’s new offices were a reaction to Mr Draghi’s leadership. “[He] never got a mandate, never got voted for or elected,” she said.

He imposes policies on these societies that are completely undemocratic,” she added. A friend of Ms Witt said she opposes what she describes as “European neo-liberalism”, and argued that the ECB cannot act “without a state of surveillance, of police and violence”.

The friend stated that Ms Witt wants “peace and happiness for our lives, for Greece, and for all countries around the Mediterranean sea.” Her aim is to introduce a new political order to replace the European Union, with “democracy, civil rights, solidarity, and no borders”, the friend said.

She criticized the ECB for believing itself to be “master of the universe”, warning that “you will hear our outcries louder, brighter, inside and outside your halls, everywhere, and you shall deserve no rest”. She nicknamed the letters “papillons”, in reference to the messages distributed by French resistance fighters during the Second World War. Papillon is French for butterfly.

As can be read in her manifesto (below) she said: “I do not expect this illegitimate institution to hear my voice, neither to understand my message.” Making reference to her “butterflies” she continued: “Today I’m just a butterfly sending you a sentence, but be afraid more are coming.” The activist was dragged from the ECB’s press room and taken to a police station in Frankfurt. She claims she was held for around two-and-a-half hours before being released without charge.

A closer read of the manifesto:

We own our own lives –

and in the face of the overwhelmingly powerful external
environment of the ECB’s monetary police,
sometimes it’s hard to remember.

We own our own lives –
and they’re not the chips in the ECB’s gambling game,
not to be played with, not to be sold, not to be devastated.

We own our own lives!
-will be the outcry of those who face repression,
when we begin to see our poverty not as personal defeat or unchangeable destiny.

ECB,
master of the universe,
I come to remind you that there is no god,
but there are people, behind those lives,
and if you rule instead of serving,
you will hear our outcries louder, brighter, inside and outside your halls, everywhere, and you shall deserve no rest.

And while the ECB can only persist in its autocratic hegemony, depending on states of surveillance and police,
finally, the daily violence is enrooted here,
we will find our radical answers
and act with no violence against those human disasters.

Because we will not accept the insane narrative that the ECB wants to impose to all people wherein even freedom of speech and dignity can be sold to the bank in order to survive. Persisting in its arrogance against the people, the ECB increases perilously its own debt to them. A press conference is not enough to call it “democracy”.

I do not expect this illegitimate institution to hear my voice, neither to understand my message,
it would be too much to ask,
but I know for a fact that a lot of people do understand very well the matter.

Today I’m just a butterfly sending you a sentence, but be afraid more are coming. We will take back the power over our own lives.

The ECB’s debt is not yet paid.

Surprisingly coherent for a 21 year old.

Source: ZeroHedge

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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WWII Greek anti-fascist hero and left politician slams capitulation of Syriza

Glezos-GR-IBNA1

Manolis Glezos is a Greek National Hero and belonged to the Greek resistance during WWII. He is also a MEP of SYRIZA and one of its most respected leaders. In short, he is not your 30-something “cool” and “hip” politician who are little more than salad dressing for your Greek salad.

“On May 30, 1941, he and Apostolos Santas climbed on the Acropolis and tore down the swastika, which had been there since April 27, 1941, when the Nazi forces had entered Athens. It inspired not only the Greeks, but all subjected people, to resist against the occupation, and established them both as two international anti-Nazi heroes.” – Wikipedia

When SYRIZA came to power with much fanfare, opinion was abound and their stance on Russian sanctions puzzled many. The wishful thinking crowd held on but as time goes by we are reminded of Dagmar Henn’s analysis once again:

“The actual mobilization of people in Greece came to a halt with Syriza. While Syriza might be a positive change globally speaking, it is at the same time a negative change for Greece.”

– Conversation: Greece in the bigger picture?

AE

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“I ask the Greek people to forgive me for contributing to this illusion.” With this phrase veteran left politician, WWII resistance fighter and SYRIZA MEP Manolis Glezos slammed the Greek government for handling the negotiations with the country’s lenders and so having changed the rhetoric of the party.

In an article uploaded on the website of his Movement for Active Citizens, the historic member of the Greek left expresses his deep disappointment about the way SYRIZA handles with the negotiations ans calls for party members to decide if they accept this situation. Manolis Glezos writes:

Renaming the Troika into Institutions, the Memorandum of Understanding into   Agreement and the lenders into partners, you do not change the previous situations as in the case renaming meat into fish.

Of course, you cannot change the vote of the Greek people at the elections of January 25, 2015.

The people voted in favor of what SYRIZA promised: to remove the austerity which is not the only strategy of the oligarchic Germany and the other EU countries, but also the strategy of the Greek oligarchy.

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Continue reading WWII Greek anti-fascist hero and left politician slams capitulation of Syriza

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