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Beware of Greeks Spurning Gifts…..


This has some possible geopolitical implications:

Greek government in chaos with debt deal in doubt

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The Greek government teetered and stock markets around the world plummeted Tuesday after a hard-won European plan to save the Greek economy was suddenly thrown into doubt by the prospect of a public vote.

One day after Prime Minister George Papandreou stunned Europe by calling for a referendum, the ripples reached from Athens, where some of his own lawmakers rebelled against him, to Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average plunged almost 300 points.

Papandreou convened his ministers Tuesday night, and a spokesman said the prime minister was sticking to his decision to hold the referendum, which would be the first since Greeks voted to abolish the monarchy in 1974. Papandreou has also called a vote of confidence in his government, to be held midnight Friday.

“The government is not falling,” said Angelos Tolkas, a deputy government spokesman.

….A Greek rejection of the second rescue package could cause bank failures in Europe and perhaps a new recession in Europe, the market for 20 percent of American exports. It could also cause Greece to leave the alliance of 17 nations that use the euro.

European leaders made no secret of their displeasure.

“This announcement surprised all of Europe,” said a clearly annoyed French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been scrambling to save face for Europe before he hosts leaders of the Group of 20 major world economies later this week.

“Giving the people a say is always legitimate, but the solidarity of all countries of the eurozone cannot work unless each one consents to the necessary efforts,” he said.

French lawmaker Christian Estrosi was even more direct. He told France-Info radio that the move was “totally irresponsible” and reflected “a wind of panic” blowing on Papandreou and his party.

“I want to tell the Greek government that when you are in a situation of crisis, and others want to help you, it is insulting to try to save your skin instead of assuming your responsibilities,” Estrosi said.

Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who have been at the forefront of Europe’s efforts to contain national debt, talked by phone and agreed to convene emergency talks Wednesday in Cannes, France. Papandreou will also attend.

Merkel also spoke by telephone Tuesday with Papandreou, his office said.

The response was brutal in the international financial markets, especially in Europe. Greece’s general price index plunged to close down 6.92 percent, while in Germany the Dax index, the major stock market average, lost 5 percent – the equivalent of about 600 points on the Dow.

The French stock market closed down 5.4 percent, the Italian 6.7 percent and London 2.2 percent.

“Talk about your all-time bonehead moves,” said Benjamin Reitzes, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets….

While it is likely that the EU will muddle through this latest Greek crisis, I have to wonder if the EU will exist at all in five years? Or perhaps as a rump Northwest European confederation? This will not be the last debt crisis.

Our unlamented and departed Soviet adversaries used to talk about what they called “the contradictions of capitalism”. In the current crisis we are seeing the contradictions of technocratic governance as practiced by European elites. It seems that lacking the political ability to coerce Southern member states into genuinely accepting austerity programs, or alternatively spur their less developed economies to higher growth rates, the EU structure is both the raison d’etre and the obstacle to a solution.

An essentially undemocratic elite project, the EU is stymied by the residual democratic capacity of national citizenry to resist. Ordinary Greeks are not inclined to accept financial castor oil spooned by foreigners to please the international markets and I suspect the tolerance of German taxpayers for footing more than their share of the EU bills is wearing dangerously thin.

Either power will increasingly flow to the EU nations still writing the checks, making the EU even more unrepresentative, but more economically rational in political decision-making, or there will be a rush for the exit door.


Greek Prime Minister abruptly sacks military chiefs

15 Responses to “Beware of Greeks Spurning Gifts…..”

  1. chris Says:

    Don’t let the latest shenanigans distract you. Europe’s solution to their debt problem is… more debt. Of course, everyone has too much debt, which leads me to wonder what the next paradigm is.

  2. joey Says:

    Ok I think your getting a little lost in the hyperbole,  all EU treaty’s are negotiated by democratically elected governments.  The process is painfully slow, and subject to constant revision by both the EU Parliament, and the national parliaments, witnessed by the numerous opt outs and rewrites  and guarantees to keep everyone happy. 
    I would like to see some real evidence that the EU is essentially undemocratic elite project?  What are you basing that on? I’m not even sure what that means.. beware looking at the rest of the world through the prism of American politics.
    The Euro (poorly conceived) as a currency is in big trouble, and IMHO doomed in its current incarnation. 
    But beware confusing the current currency woes with the EU itself, they are different beasts.

  3. zen Says:

    Hi Joey
    "I would like to see some real evidence that the EU is essentially undemocratic elite project?"
    Fair question. How about the saga of the rejected (by national voters) proposed EU constitution that was subsequently rammed through (partially) as the Treaty of Lisbon by governing elites?

  4. Nathaniel T. Lauterbach Says:

    I remember a number of months back when the German Federal Court ruled that the previous bailouts by the German Central Bank had been constitutional, but that future bailouts would also be subject to a German referendum as well.
    Very interesting.
    Perhaps, like in America (with the Tea Party and with #Occupy movement), the excesses of a centralized technocratic political-business elite (the EU) are going to be subjected to the pressures of an increasingly vocal citizenry.  Perhaps it’ll bring a new flowering of democracy…It’s possible, although I think it unlikely, as classical liberalism has all but died out in Europe.  Considering the infantile attitude that many Greek citizens have displayed against the austerity measures emplaced over the last year, I’m not sanguine.
    Something that nobody is talking about, but will certainly be part of the fallout are the prospects for NATO.  Many over the last several years have been saying that NATO will surely die due to the stresses placed upon it due to it’s member’s participation in various wars.  Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya have all been cited, and all have failed to kill the alliance.  I think it more likely that the alliance will perish due to political-economic discord within Europe than fighting outside of Europe.  Even Angela Merkel said not to take 50-odd years of somewhat-peace for granted if the political-economic situation doesn’t improve.  In some parts of the world, that might be considered sabre-rattling.

  5. seydlitz89 Says:

    An essentially undemocratic elite project
    Sorry, but I think you miss the whole point of what the EU is about.  It’s about an ideal that is widely shared across Europe.  If it were as you project, then it would have fallen apart a long time ago.  As it is it may unravel, but due to financial concerns (not to mention outside speculation) and the simple lack of a central authority.  
    Now, if you’re looking for an essentially undemocratic elite project, why not the Iraq war?  

  6. zen Says:

    Hi seydlitz89,
    The ideal is very, very old, admittedly, and deeply embedded in the continental culture ( moreso, I suspect, in Catholic parts of Europe – note the UK’s long ambivalence toward the EU/EEC). But the EU political superstructure that emerged after 1992 did not add the same level of value for ordinary Europeans that the economic union did and the "democratic deficit", there by design, has IMHO dampened popular enthusiasm for greater political unification and power delegation to Brussells.
    As for Iraq, you can criticize that war on a whole host of grounds – I’d agree with you on many points – but a failure of the Bush administration to secure democratic consent for going to war and sustaining their war policy, even when it was clearly in tatters, isn’t one of them.

  7. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Folks over here keep saying that the EU needs to be consolidated into a confederation resembling the United States of America. This is a foolish notion. Europe is a peninsula of original vintage nation-states. The United States in 1787-1789 was not. John Jay said in Federalist #2:It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.Similar sentiments have hitherto prevailed among all orders and denominations of men among us. To all general purposes we have uniformly been one people each individual citizen everywhere enjoying the same national rights, privileges, and protection. As a nation we have made peace and war; as a nation we have vanquished our common enemies; as a nation we have formed alliances, and made treaties, and entered into various compacts and conventions with foreign states.Europe, despite the artificial stasis imposed by 45 years of partition between the US and USSR and another 20 as a protectorate of the US, does not meet Jay’s criteria. Scratch a "European" and you’ll find a German, a Frenchman, a Slovak, or a Greek.

  8. joey Says:

    In Ireland (where I’m from originally) the Lisbon treaty was rejected by the Irish voters,It was then renegotiated by the Irish government where the a number of guarantees  were extracted, the revised treaty was put the the referendum for a second time, this time in light of the changes, it passed, by a massive majority.  Referendums are notoriously difficult to get passed due to the inherent bias towards the status quo most voters display,  one of the (many) reasons most countries don’t use them.Now not all EU countries have the same constitutional arrangements as Ireland, not all counties needed to put the Lisbon treaty to a referendum.   Most of them ratified the Lisbon treaty by parliamentary vote.  If technocratic implies rule by a faceless bureaucratic shadow government, this was anything but.     Thats not to say I’m a cheerleader for further integration, or even knowing where the EU should go from here. 

  9. joey Says:

    "The ideal is very, very old, admittedly, and deeply embedded in the continental culture ( moreso, I suspect, in Catholic parts of Europe – note the UK’s long ambivalence toward the EU/EEC)"

    I’m not sure why you think the catholic south has been more supportive, as they are late comers to the party.Individual countries have had very different reasons for supporting the EU, for example the ex communist countries reasons for wanting to join are completely different to French reasons, likewise Britain has very different motivations to Ireland.  The mother church (always ambivalent) liberalism, socialism, a sense of shared history, a horror of the past wars, fear of domination by the Russians, Americans ect, added to that the needs of transnational companies, economic ideas, free trade, and also the changing nature of Europe’s strategic position, all effect different countries in different ways.   

  10. seydlitz89 Says:

    Amazing, I heard your argument almost word for word from a British colleague last evening.  It’s very much a British view imo, and reflects their reasons for not having joined in with the Euro back in 2002.  They have made an art out of "sitting on the fence and complaining" as another British colleague put it.  But, it’s all more complex than that as joey indicates.
    As to to secure democratic consent for going to war and sustaining their war policy, I think Bush’s  approach was a cynical manipulation of democratic institutions through blatant lies, systematic deceit, scare mongering and war profiteering, all wrapped up in a total lack of accountability.  If that’s American democracy, then call me a Tory.
    Nice CvC post up btw . . . 

  11. zen Says:

    Hi seydlitz & joey,
    "Amazing, I heard your argument almost word for word from a British colleague last evening"
    Ha! I am surprised but I don’t think Walter Russell Mead would be, or other Anglosphere-ists who argue that there is a distinct "Anglo-Saxon" transatlantic culture separating the UK and North America from Europe.
    I don’t disagree that there is nuance, complications and national interest impacting national attitudes toward the EU.  The argument I would make requires a long historical essay but my point is that very deep in the political DNA of continental Europe is a longing for the vanished unity of imperial Rome , undoing the disaster when  " the whole world perished in one city" with the great sack and Western collapse. This longing has been expressed over the past millenia and a half with the crowning of Charlemagne, united Christendom before the schism, the  Hapsburg moment under Charles V and his grandson Philip, the French quest for "universal monarchy" under Louis XIV and Napoleon, a malign version in Hitler’s "New Order" and finally, with the EU. It is a motivating myth the Brits do not share – they dreaded the strategic implications from at least Elizabeth I. time – but it will always stumble on the details.

  12. joey Says:

    That’s pretty funny, I had the very same imperial DNA theory in my last post, but deleted it out as too unformed, you put it better.  I happen to agree with you on that point,  could it be that the reason Britain does not share that vision is that they were one of the only western provinces that actually were overrun by true barbarians, rather than the romanised successor kingdoms that arose in the rest of the west roman empire?  And that happened not once but twice?  and a 3th time if you count the Normans, decendents of pagan raiders, and not as attached to the roman heritage as there Frankish neighbors.  And with the reformation some of the last links to there Roman heritage were lost.  Even more striking is the comparison of the Prussian monarchs who took there feudal duties to the Holy Roman Emperor very seriously, even when of a different faith and at war.  Thats not to say that at one point they didn’t started to fancy themselves as the new Romans!  But there not the first or last global hegemon to style themselves as such…
    But in all seriousness those kind of cultural (and emotional) currents are subsumed in more pragmatic considerations.  After all, Britain is deeply enmeshed in developments on the mainland, despite the pose of lofty indifference they (try to) maintain.

  13. Renaud Says:

    "The political DNA of Europe" – what is that ? Is it what a Greek, a Portugee, an Irishman and a Finn have in common ?
    Further question: do you have any notion of the languages spoken within the EU and or its national cultures beyond English / the UK ? Ever studied or worked there ?
    As for the contents of your hypothetical essay, they will be airy generalisations, I fear. Of course that sort of thing is impossible to disprove.  So, where s the beef ?

  14. zen Says:

    Ironically, NEXT week is "Patronize Zen Week". You are a few days early, Renaud.
    To answer your questions:
    1. It is a metaphor for congruent historical and cultural traditions.
    2. By degree, yes. Those countries have less with each other than what they share with immediate neighbors and European regions have distinct histories – ex. Balkans.
    3.  Yes – and the language groups they emanate from, though if you ask me where some dying or dead language like Vlach or Dalmatian fits in, I’d have to make an educated guess or look it up. And what would, say, being a representative of Firestone corporation in Milan or waiting on tables in Barcelona do for me in terms of analyzing EU intragovernmental relations?

    4. Since you are affirming the consequent, you are saving me a lot of bother 😉

  15. Nathaniel T. Lauterbach Says:

    Re: NATO after Greece

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