Yves here. Readers will recognize that I differ with Rose on some of his reading of the Greek government strategy, most important, in how defiant they have actually been. For instance, calling the Troika “the institutions” does not make them any less the Troika. See James Petras for his take, which is caustic, on the gap between Syriza’s PR and its actions.
Nevertheless, whether the Greek government’s protests are substantive or mere grandstanding, any show of opposition is more that the Eurocrats are prepared to accept. And a successful left-leaning government is also seen as a threat in quite a few quarters.
By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist in Berlin
If there is one satisfying aspect of being an investigative journalist, it is not having to chase, create or falsify stories. One has plenty of time to gather the facts to come to a reliable result. I have rarely appreciated this situation more than in the past two months. That is how long Syriza has been in office. It has been truly impressive watching my colleagues racing from one purported crisis meeting to the next, sitting in press centres until the early hours of the morning, attempting to top each other with their scoops and inside information. After two exhausting months, however, nothing has really changed; or as the French would say: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Yes, the Greek treasury and banks are strapped for cash. But both institutions, like the Syriza government, are still standing. They may well be doing so for some time to come. The problem is that Germany and the rest of the euro-nations, who really do not matter politically, want Greece to remain in the Eurozone. On the other hand, Germany and Europe’s ruling class, who really do matter, want the leftist Syriza out of the Eurozone, out of Greece and even better still, totally obliterated. This has apparently become a conundrum: how to get rid of Syriza and keep Greece in the Eurozone. Not long ago a military coup would have been the tidy solution for this sort of situation, but those things do not happen in the EU anymore – I hope.
Syriza is simply not doing what Germany wants. Syriza politicians should be falling on their knees, begging forgiveness for speaking the truth concerning Greece’s debt, rolling out the red carpet for the Troika bureaucrats and reinstating the policy dictated to them by Germany. I constantly read and hear in the media that Syriza has capitulated, hauled up the white flag, reneged on its promises to the Greek people, yet somehow they seem to keep plugging on, fulfilling their election promises, speaking their mind. Yes, there has been no debt relief, but Syriza did not have a mandate to take Greece out of the Eurozone either and they may feel this is binding.
Germany could effortlessly force Greece out of the Eurozone. That, however, could politically and financially turn into a messy and possibly dangerous affair; and how will they ever get Greece back into the eurozone? The other problem is, as far as I can judge from Berlin, only the Germans and their Quislings want Syriza out of the Greek government. The German propaganda machine – and I mean propaganda in the objective sense – is working in high gear to whip up hate – and I do not mean this polemically – among the Germans against Syriza and Greece. The rest of the populations in the EU may not be agreed if Greece should receive some sort of debt relief or not, but there is not the frenzy of enmity that has been whipped up in Germany. I cannot discover this sort of vitriol in the media of other European nations.
There have been claims that the citizens of countries, which have been “bailed out” by the Troika and are supposedly recovering, such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland resent Greece’s demands for debt relief. That is not the way these things work. People who have just gone through such a harrowing experience know what austerity is and tend to show solidarity with fellow victims, for example in Dublin last week, where many of the protestors at the demonstration against the introduction of water charges carried Greek flags – not a single German flag was sighted. The Irish know only too well how they and the Greeks have been exploited after bank bailouts turned private debt into public debt in 2010.
Obviously the financial blitzkrieg, throwing Greece out of the Eurozone, has not been viable; otherwise it would surely have already occurred. Thus Germany will have to figure out a way to get rid of Syriza and keep Greece in the Eurozone. The question is, if financial counter-insurgency, destabilisation and attrition, have now become the plan of action? Counter-insurgency, with both military and economic elements, was often a successful means of disposing of a democratically elected government. The same result can be surely attained solely by subverting the financial system and sabotaging the economy of Greece. In fact, this is already occurring.
The script is basic: Germany and the Eurocrats will all be very nice to the Greeks (we have not heard from Wolfgang Schäuble for quite a while). Ms Merkel invites Alexis Tsirpas to supper in Berlin, Mario Draghi claims to be doing his best to help Greece, the IMF keeps a very low profile. Unfortunately Greece goes to the wall. No one wanted this result, but Syriza made a mess of the affair. The event will be termed “Grexident”. The Troika will offer a token sum (new debts) out of solidarity with the Greek people, with the condition that there is a new government excluding Syriza. The previous status quo is re-established. It sounds similar to 2011, as the then Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou called for a national referendum concerning the Troika’s austerity plans for Greece.
There is only one problem with this scenario: it relegates the Greeks to the role of victims, passive spectators of their own destiny. That is however where the current situation began two months ago. The Greeks have already lived through six years of being victims, deciding two months ago that enough is enough. Should a Grexident occur, Merkel, Schäuble, Draghi, Legarde, Dijsselbloem and their cohorts may be able to throw a party in the top floor of the new ECB building in Frankfurt in celebration of “mission accomplished”, but ask George Bush how elusive such victories can be.
It could just as well be that there is a continuation of the muddling along policy. Syriza will introduce its reforms, Germany and the Troika will claim they have forced Syriza into submission while continuing to provide the Greek government with a perpetual, but minimal financial lifeline to avoid a Grexident, hoping to grind the Greeks down so that they will vote Sytiza out at the next elections. This would be accompanied with a defamation campaign in the media to convince Europeans that Syriza blackmails, lies, cheats, is anti-European, bullies, is an ally of Putin etc… Germany has publicly well-funded political foundations in Greece, which are known to actively undermine democratically elected leftist governments.
What we do not know much about, because all my colleagues are sitting in press centres fabricating exciting stories about boring events, is what is truly happening in Greece itself. What shall be decisive in the end is not financial or monetary machinations of the Troika, but the Greek people; and to be honest, I do not have the remotest idea of what is occurring there, search in the internet as I may.