Category Archives: Greece

The Assassination of Greece, by James Petras

James Petras was Director of the Center for Mediterranean Studies in Athens (1981-1984) and adviser to Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (1981-84). Here he analyzes the Greek crisis and its issues within the European Union.

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Yánis Varoufákis and Aléxis Tsípras

The Greek government is currently locked in a life and death struggle with the elite which dominate the banks and political decision-making centers of the European Union. What are at stake are the livelihoods of 11 million Greek workers, employees and small business people and the viability of the European Union. If the ruling Syriza government capitulates to the demands of the EU bankers and agrees to continue the austerity programs, Greece will be condemned to decades of regression, destitution and colonial rule. If Greece decides to resist, and is forced to exit the EU, it will need to repudiate its 270 billion Euro foreign debts, sending the international financial markets crashing and causing the EU to collapse.

The leadership of the EU is counting on Syriza leaders abandoning their commitments to the Greek electorate, which as of early February 2015, is overwhelmingly (over 70%) in favor of ending austerity and debt payments and moving forward toward state investment in national economic and social development [1]. The choices are stark; the consequences have world-historical significance. The issues go far beyond local or even regional, time-bound, impacts. The entire global financial system will be affected [2].

The default will ripple to all creditors and debtors, far beyond Europe; investor confidence in the entire western financial empire will be shaken. First and foremost all western banks have direct and indirect ties to the Greek banks [3]. When the latter collapse, they will be profoundly affected beyond what their governments can sustain. Massive state intervention will be the order of the day. The Greek government will have no choice but to take over the entire financial system . . . the domino effect will first and foremost effect Southern Europe and spread to the ‘dominant regions’ in the North and then across to England and North America [4].

To understand the origins of this crises and alternatives facing Greece and the EU, it is necessary to briefly survey the political and economic developments of the past three decades. We will proceed by examining Greek and EU relations between 1980 – 2000 and then proceed to the current collapse and EU intervention in the Greek economy. In the final section we will discuss the rise and election of Syriza, and its growing submissiveness in the context of EU dominance, and intransigence, highlighting the need for a radical break with the past relationship of ‘lord and vassal’.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading The Assassination of Greece, by James Petras

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CYCLOPS WINS

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This is completely crazy.

For EVERY devalued euro the Greek government saved – via “spending cuts”, more taxes, hurling people towards unemployment, etc. – the Greek economy CONTRACTED by €1.20.

The troika “remedy” – austerity – led to Greece’s debt to GDP ratio going UP, and NOT down.

And this is what the troika, Medusa/Cyclops Merkel, panzer Schauble et regalia want to go on.

Tsipras and Mister V. should grow some balls and GO NUCLEAR.

REALLY go for a Grexit. And mean it. Then let’s see if the panicked troika won’t sue for peace. Imagine the headlines: “Merkelator, the euro eliminator”, etc..

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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MAJOR GREECE UPDATE

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The Eurogroup presser turned into a neo-Foucault debate about les mots et les choses. The RFKATT (Racket Formerly Known As The Troika) – now known as “institutions” – wants an “extension”; the Greeks want a “bridge”. They are supposed to be the same thing.

But they’re not. Here’s Neo-Foucaultian Chanel Lagarde: “An extension continues an existing program, and a bridge is with a view to what is next.”

The lowdown: first the Greeks need to fold – accept the “program”, which means more austerity in the form of a bailout. No bridge. AFTER that RFKATT would consider some changes. But NOT more money.

All this happened after a Eurogroup draft deal was leaked. The draft outlined the above. The Greeks said “no way”.

So we’re back to the EU playing its same old TINA (there is no alternative) scratchy CD; Greece needs to ask for an extension of the current racket and thus “buy time” and keep negotiating.

And once again this week has been promoted as the final deadline… There will be a new meeting but only if the Greeks fold.

Here’s Varoufakis at his own presser: the Greeks want a four-month loan extension, coupled with “conditionality”; that’s the way to go for a new contract “between two equals”. He added: “The only way to solve Greece is to treat us like equals; not a debt colony.”

Looks like it’s going the “debt colony” way.

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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From Minsk to Brussels, it’s all about Germany, by Pepe Escobar

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to France's President Francois Hollande during a meeting with the media after peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to France’s President Francois Hollande during a meeting with the media after peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Germany holds the key to where Europe goes next. A fragile deal may have been reached on Ukraine, but there’s still no deal with Greece. In both cases, there’s much more than meets the eye.

Let’s start with the grueling Eurogroup negotiation in Brussels over the Greek debt.

Greek officials swear they never received a draft of a possible agreement leaked by Eurogroup bureaucrats to the Financial Times. This draft, crucially, referred to an agreement “amending and extending and successfully concluding,” the current austerity-heavy bailout.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cut off “amending”. This is the draft that was leaked. But then Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis called Prime Minister Tsipras – and the statement, still not signed, was rejected. So this was a top Tsipras decision.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading From Minsk to Brussels, it’s all about Germany, by Pepe Escobar

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Europe slouching towards anxiety & war, Pepe Escobar

Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis
Reuters / Alkis Konstantinidis

Europe, which the EU is supposed to represent, is fighting a double war that could ravage it beyond recognition – against Greece within its own borders, and against Russia in Ukraine.

An exhibition in Rome could not – inadvertently – be more graphic in defining the zeitgeist: “The Age of Anxiety – from Commodus to Diocletian.” Well, Roman emperors could barely imagine it would get much worse under the EU.

The tantalizingly tense face-off between Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has set up the battlefield; the EU won’t accept a “unilateral” Greece, and Greece won’t accept a bailout extension or the diktats of the troika (EU, ECB, IMF).

Legend has already taken over; after Varoufakis was firm on the “no troika” talk – as in no more economic terrorism – at the end of their press conference in Athens, Dijsselbloem murmured something in his ear that Greek officials have interpreted as a Pulp Fiction-style “I’ma get medieval on your ass.”

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Europe slouching towards anxiety & war, Pepe Escobar

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Conversation: Greece in the bigger picture?

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Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as Prime Minister of Greece on 26 January 2015 and by 29 January The Saker had given his verdict:

“Greece voted for sanctions against Russia.

The dream was nice while it lasted.

Now lets forget SYRIZA.

The Saker”

The same day, Dmitry Orlov’s advice was this:

“[ Deleted. There is no point. SYRIZA folded and voted to extend the ridiculous sanctions against Russia. The dream was nice while it lasted. Move along, people, nothing to see here, just some more fake European “democracy.” ]”

Meanwhile, Russia Insider was more optimistic and on 30 January 2015 went with:

“Greece Is Now a Russia Sanctions Veto. Merkel Is Foaming at the Mouth

Greece is now effectively a veto power when it comes to future Russian sanctions. Merkel will have to find a new country to bully. “

ZeroHedge went with the following on 27 January 2015:

“Greece Begins The Great Pivot Toward Russia”

And also reported the following by 31 Jan 2015:

“ECB Threatens Athens With Bank Funding Cutoff If No Deal In One Month: February 28 Is Now D-Day For Greece”

It would be interesting to see how the Podemous situation evolves in Spain as well. The people in Greece were gearing for mobilization on the street level, opposing the “system” and then came Syriza. The situation in Europe is accurately, in a dialectic sense, captured by writer Dagmar Henn when she says (paraphrasing):

“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.”

AE

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Should Syriza’s Choose The Soft Or The Hard Path?

So Syriza won in Greece. It formed a new government in coalition with the small, rightwing Independent Greece party. Before the election Syriza announced a program that would have Greece stay in the Euro but renegotiate conditions for loans.

I hope that was a ploy. Yves Smith describes the difficulties with Syriza’s soft path:

The nut of that problem, as we will see, is that while may be a very estimable-sounding position, it may not be as pragmatic as it appears. Greece likely has better odds of winning concessions if it is less reasonable, since the Germans and the even more implacable Fins are convinced that the periphery countries are immoral beggars who deserve to be ground into the dust if they cannot or will not pay their debts. Greece is unlikely to be able to shake the perception in the North that they have the upper hand and can force Greece to heel, giving at most only fairly minor concessions.

Greece’s best hope is if it there is an upsurge in popularity of other anti-austerity and anti-Eurozone parties in the rest of Europe. And they are more likely to rally support in the rest of the Eurozone if they take bold positions rather than careful, studied ones. And even then, that may not be enough for them to resolve the deep-seated problems they face. It isn’t simply that they face a very difficult challenge politically vis-a-vis the Troika, but that even if they get most of what they want, their policies do not look likely to generate enough demand to pull Greece out of its ditch.

Like Ian Welsh I would argue for Greece to take a harder course, at least during negotiations and, if those fail, to really walk the walk:

Greek debt is at a level which is effectively impossible to pay off and has been made much, much worse by all the “aid packages” and “bailouts” given by their “fellow” Europeans. (Aka. they should have defaulted years ago.)As for the Euro, Greece can’t print it, and Greece will need to print money.

I worry that Syriza is serious about negotiating on the debt. There is essentially no chance the Troika (well, really, Germany) will give them acceptable terms on a writedown. Negotiations should be intended only to go on long enough to demonstrate that a good deal is not possible. While they are ongoing, the Greeks should be preparing for Grexit and repatriating all the resources they can.

Greece would become another pariah of the “western” world and Ian, correctly in my view, thinks that is a position in which it is not alone and which can be used to Greece’s favor:

The media is playing this as an anti-austerity vote, and it is. But voting anti-austerity for a country like Greece which can’t feed itself, has no oil, and doesn’t have a lot of industry, is one thing: not being austere is another. If the Greeks want a decent life again, they will have to take on some of the most powerful nations in the world and at least fight to a draw.Many nations are in the same boat as Greece is: Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Argentina. Greece needs to make the necessary alliances with such countries and it needs to align with the rising Chinese block.

Doing this requires a psychological step that Greeks may be unwilling to take: a recognition that their interests do not lie with Europe; an understanding that Europeans are willing to see them impoverished, homeless and dead. Greeks who are living in the past and think the EU is about prosperity for everyone in the EU need to learn otherwise.

Syriza might go the more radical path. If not it is likely to fail and then the door will be open for the hard right to take power and to start wars to divert the attention from the ever falling economy.

Source: Moon of Alabama

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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Next stop: Grexit?

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The people have spoken in Greece on Europe’s ghastly “elites” and how they responded to the 2008 financial crisis. Syriza are real outsiders – against both Brussels and Berlin. But they are not anti-Europe; they are against THIS European “project”. Here we have a legitimate anti-austerity party finally in power within the EU; the beginning of the end of THIS European “project”. Next stop: Grexit?

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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Greece’s Fight Against European Austerity, interview with Tariq Ali

Source: counterpunch

The Implications of SYRIZA and the Greek Elections

Tariq Ali was interviewed by Kostas Vlahopoulos and Thomas Giourgas for www.nostimonimar.gr.

1. For the first time in Greek political history, a radical left party, SYRIZA, is the strong favorite to win the general elections taking place in January the 25th. What kind of reaction do you expect from the neo-liberal Europe and in particular from Germany?

Tariq Ali: If SYRIZA wins it will mark the beginnings of a fightback against austerity and neo-liberalism in Europe. Two concurrent processes will be in motion from the beginning of the victory. There will be a strong attempt by the EU elite led by Germany to try and tame SYRIZA via a combination of threats and concessions. The aim of this operation is simple. To try and split SYRIZA at a very early stage.

Secondly there will be a high level of expectation from SYRIZA’s electorate and beyond. Mass mobilizations will be extremely important to sustain the new government and push it to carry through the first necessary measures. The debt and the readjustment measures must be repudiated immediately before moving on to implement a plan that restores the social gains that have been achieved and are being dismantled by the Troika-led governments. The first three months will be decisive in terms of revealing the contours of the political and economic landscape envisaged by SYRIZA. Neo-liberalism can not be dismantled overnight but the will to do so must be paramount. Bandwagon careerists must not be allowed to sabotage what can and should be done.

[Please click below to continue reading] Continue reading Greece’s Fight Against European Austerity, interview with Tariq Ali

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