ENJOY GREECE

ENJOY GREECE
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Τρίτη, 8 Αυγούστου 2017

Greece Crisis 2007-2017 (Part I)

Introduction

A decade almost after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and World’s economic, political and social Great Depression, Greece seems the only nation still unable to recover. Although too small in this anarchic World it has managed to be in the swirl of this “man dust’ continuously the last decade making distinguished organizations like International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) and powerful countries with their leaders as well to seem incapable to contribute effectively. Or have they done just the opposite serving ideally their interest by behaving in a purely “Thucydides” realism attitude? Is this Greek social immunity in all taken measures and given advice really a nation’s failure or just an imposed consequence of the international system?  Do domestic politics and mainly populism count more than anything else for ten lost years spent in a reckless Greek foreign and internal policy with still an unknown future to come? Is there in Greece as has been rumored a hidden “oil curse” dragging Greece to an authoritarian electoral democracy and powerful elite’s domination intentionally? What is that they all missing or just pretending not see it? Greeks, its internal political structure of their state or international anarchy are finally more responsible for this misery? Conclusively, is there for Greece any leeway for a break with its past or another lost century has just started?

In the following analysis, it will be pursued to show the real reason why Greece has become a Gordian knot in after-Lehman Brothers era. A good example where the balance of great powers may means nothing in 21th century for people’s prosperity. A paradigm where international hypocrisy may lead humanity in another century with another World War finally. What if real democracy revives again and brings prosperity to a new World with maybe more dimensions in international relations than the distinguished Kenneth N. Waltz’s three “images” of last millennium’s World?

Background

Greece in its modern shape was founded in 1830 heavily already indebted to England through two large mishandled Revolution’s loans taken in 1823-4. In 1826 4 years before its official declaration was bankrupted for its first time. In the end of 19th century another bankruptcy in 1893 and a well disputed for its purposes War against Ottoman Empire in 1897 cost Greece another round of huge loans for Turkey’s compensation given promptly by International Finance Committee (IFC) that were paid till the end of ‘70s securing like many other countries in Europe Greece role as a “late developer” in the industrialization era. Immediately after a military junta in late ‘60s just before the end of repaying the loans a socialist governance started in 1981 characterized steadily by a deep corruption. After the end of Cold War Greece governing mainly was based on bribes from Germany and Russia for armaments and state procurements while dismantling any national cohesion.

Greece ended up after all in the first decade of this millennium heavily debt burdened with around 320 bn euro or 178% GDP, unsuccessfully governed by short-term lived coalitions, globally disregarded and selling off its wealth without even having realized yet what went wrong and insisting on going on the right way ironically. Its financial data has proven its failure as a state unanimously while its stubbornness to resist change cannot be understood and interpreted enough even now through social, economic and international theories. No matter its own fault, international economy and international state system seem to exploit Greek government inefficiently willingly pushing Greece towards nationalism and an old-fashioned elite-style governance while diminishing Greeks’ prosperity. In the same time in its exclusive economic zone as well as in respective ones of neighborhood countries like Cyprus, Egypt and Israel vast quantities of oil and gas attract giant West companies interest like EXXONMOBIL, TOTAL and EDISON. As situated in the periphery of Europe and West civilization, Greece seems convicted in a role of a distinguished “Latin Europe” membership serving an imperialism of Europe’s hegemonies.

Argument

Greece seems to be the “zero-sum” game between West (US versus Germany balanced Europe), Russia and China. A primitive realist contest that reminds us Thucydides’ state relations principles where no one of the key World players seems to care for Greece but only who will conquer the heartland of ancient spirit and not only.

Even the Greeks appear to resort exclusively to their first image of existence where man is striving only for his exclusive survival full of envy and pride and indifferent for his state and political system. Full in passion and nationalism cares to satisfy his basic instincts with little thought for next generations’ looming life. They are even ready to resort to War proving their long glorious history but little idealism rests anymore in the place where two and a half millenniums ago democracy, sciences and technology signaled an unachievable since then level for humanity.

It is obvious that Greeks have not perceived their true interest and where perceived they have not found its expression in governmental policy.  What is strange is while sometimes Greece is praised for its reforms and progress from West and many distinguished political personalities in the same time Greeks get more in oppression and in poverty. Indeed, it is a question how Greece can improve while the international relations of the World remain going on the old footing.

In this anarchy defined World, Rousseau becomes contemporaneous when he argues for loss of solidarity spirit under Europeans identity and substitution of patriotism with other sub-or transnational interests. Greek elite-based government seems to be devoted solely to two things since the burst of the crisis: how to extend its time of ruling over its citizens and how to increase its power over them. Lenders are frequently presented as warriors that want to conquer Greece putting people in a perpetual need of war and resistance.

International economy with its transnational characteristics has affected Greece ability to recover. Germany economical domination in EU through Euro and its foreign policy especially in Balkan Peninsula determined political and economic limited reaction in Greece through crisis. No doubt, Greece resembles more to a “Latin America” country fitted at the periphery of Germany’s Europe with Greeks as prisoners of a structure which they cannot afford. 

“Complex interdependence” accounts for Greek poor governance that brought certain common political characteristics no matter the ruling party in lead. Greece with a weak state has resulted in a policy outcome based on conflict among complex public-private linkages leading to deadlocks.

International state system certainly shaped modern Greece. Power, domination, empire, glory and “total” security induced Greece to organize itself and meet external challenges. The classic argument between England and Prussia applies also to Greece. A country with a very vulnerable and critical geopolitical location was always the bone of contention. From Katherine the Great to Stalin and now to Putin, Greece and Poland where always looked greedily by Russia. Even China form Far East disembarked in Greece arguing for its global interests. Threatened by sea and land, the desire of Slavs to descent to warm waters and the Ottoman’s expansion to the West militarization became vital for Greece affecting its governance through Kings, dictators and deep corrupted democrats under an authoritarian Putin-like modern democracy nowadays.

A regime like heavy oil producing Arab countries where citizens are satisfied by tax evasion and generous state benefits, has been arise undermining Greece present and future perspective. Illegal global trafficking of all kinds transformed Greece to a NATO member and a transit country for transnational barons in the same time. A full-scale propaganda concealed for decades the country’s finances deficits and lending with the synergy of EU up to 2009 and its aftermath national deadlock.

As long as, there is no occupation however compelling external pressures maybe they are unlikely to be fully determining. Some leeway of response to pressure is always possible, at least conceptually.

Evidence

In Greece all considered Great powers of 21th century met in this economic crisis. US President Barak Obama chose to end his Presidency with a tour in Europe visiting Greece where he praised democracy as the only known viable type of rule for West civilization future and not only and Germany where Chancellor and her Minister of Finance Herr Schauble strongly resisted all these years imposing a different fiscal policy more US based and confronting World economic crisis that burst out after Lehman Brothers collapse. In the same time from 2015 a radical leftist Greek government strongly opposed West and struggled desperately to reach an agreement with Putin, pushing for a loan of 5bn euro as an exchange to a possible oil pipeline that will turned Greece orientation towards entering Russian “sphere of interest” and obviously its political system. Meanwhile Greece throughout vast Russia armaments in the past had been already transformed in the only NATO member with Russia military equipment even stating officially through its Defense Minister an aspiration to produce Kalashnikov rifles in Greece. Meanwhile, China exploited Greek despair as well, securing through COSCO a 67% of Piraeus port share that allowed it to disembark its goods for European market in South willing to acquire the national train company for goods transportation as well. In a ‘zero sum” challenges Germany, Russia and China seems to be satisfied for nothing less than full domination with US reacting always too late mostly misinformed and actually in the last moment before Greece collapse.

According to EUROSTAT Greek basic salary in 2016 fall in the 11th place of EU with 684 euro, unemployment reached 22% while referring to young people under the age 25 to 45% a percentage similar to Bulgaria and Romania.  According to the Doctors Association of Athens thousands fled mainly to UK, Germany and Sweden since 2010, 5 more times than usual. Certain forms of industrial activity seem to be sloughed off by the most advanced countries, or more precisely, by corporations seeking lower labor costs welcoming Greeks that abandon their country and Greece confined to certain types of manufacturing and services that favor the mix of labor supply and organizational skills. According to Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) around 25 million tourists visit Greece yearly, a country with 11 million inhabitants but the income is lower than the expectations.

In the same time, the demographic projections along with refugees’ flood through Middle East, Asia and Africa of almost 1 million persons only for 2015 shivered the state foundations. International organizations and NGOs initially contributed in the reception and control of the ceaseless insertion in Greece and Europe hundreds of thousands of people while NATO finally came in Aegean Sea with its fleet to augment security. Greek government found itself in moments when it could not provide the minimum of security of its people and their property. Increase in violence cannot be regarded anything else than an expression of Man’s aggression towards a State that do not represent its purpose for security and prosperity. Nationalism appears daily in Greek media to calm domestic instincts were Turkey, a NATO Greece ally, is having a role of intruder satisfying a peculiar interest by Greeks for their nation. All seem eager to defend their country but none to change it.

Socialist Greece in an analogy with Russia’s oligarchic post-communism governance seems in a vicious cycle trying to serve both EU and its currency euro values and domestic and global elites interests. Citizens find themselves trapped in ignorance fed from an authoritarian oppression that West approves. State and media are characterized by a strange synchronization in their messages towards deepening society’s poverty and tolerating oligarchs’ illegal attitude. Not surprisingly, recent media acquisitions happen from oligarchs accused for forming gangs and a Russian oligarch close to Putin. Justice seems incapable to impose different values than the existing ones in the society that led to this mess. All main leaders that were convicted for robbing the State have been already released enjoying freedom. When voices of freedom are heard sporadically soon disappear afterwards chased by an unseen the security apparatus and a half-blinded jurisdiction. It is not by coincidence that he most preferable political leader in relation with the existing ones for ruling the nation in all polls for decades now is the “No-one”. Many political parties that had expressed a will for change soon fell in a cooption with the old political system that were supposed to alter ending in ripping and enjoy state benefits. Some of them like “Laos” and “DIMAR” even managed to participate in Government before disappearing. A World system seems to control everything inside Greece in the old way and secure the inability of Greeks to change their country, life and future. Germany that dominates in Greece the last decades and especially after euro adoption seems to have chosen a system of bribes to locals to exploit Greece wealth in a traditional 19th century old fashion colonization.

A seek for participation in the EU core had replaced any other ideology pushing patriotism away and replaced only by nationalism. While not clearly defined and exercised EU ideology seems to lead to it’s dismantle unable to satisfy Greeks ambitions. An EU that has started its “amputation” with BREXIT seems mostly to resemble with Germany’s Foreign Policy been totally unattractive for nations especially in South Europe where citizens find their life to deteriorate under a fiscal policy that it is not clear what it seeks for. A European identity looks gradually to become a Germany identity that has no chance to substitute EU nation’s sovereignty making them finally to resist or abandon EU. A cataclysm of EU money through its programs for decades proved to turn against itself turning many nations especially in South Europe into passive receivers with no adding value than the subversion mainly to Germany and European Committee.

Greek government in a “complex interdependence” has become a component of the puzzle along with EU and IMF, Greek powerful families and new ambitioned oligarchs, unions that struggle to lose as less as possible, companies that try to survive and Greek who seek their wellness. From 2009 none elected government has managed to finish its constitutional term resorting to new elections when demands from all other components become unaffordable. In 2015, respectful German newspaper “Die Welt” wrote that Greeks have 800 million euro in Swiss banks revealing the Greek tragedy. EU still brings new packets of austerity deals and IMF issuing continuously reports that prove taken measures as not enough. New oligarchs most of them accused from Justice but never convicted for smuggling continue to acquire power so as to impose their will on the people. Unions are organizing protests all these years with little effect in improving the situation and Greeks steadily appears dissatisfied and pessimist in all opinion polls.  

Not few times a possible military coup come again in the press during this crisis as Greece is one of the few NATO countries that even today spends above 2% of GDP for its defense having developed a strong military state. Addressing external threats from its foundation either towards East and Ottomans or North and Communists, Greece organized internally to meet external challenges. Its glorious stance in WWII where was the first nation that resist German expansion and defeat its ally fascist Italy and a fierce and devastating civil War against Stalin communists in 1946-49 shaped a society where government was granted full power with less supervision by representative bodies deciding enormous armaments easily in the late of century that led to corruption and budget collapse.  

Greeks are asking continuously for lower taxes and satisfied with small changes while they don’t realize how much of their counties’ wealth is being lost to theft, corruption and government incompetence. In 2014, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his Energy Minister Giannis Maniatis after a visit of their staff to Huston and Geonergy Corporation announced that Greek government expects from the exploitation of energy oil and gas resources only in Ionian Sea 150bn euro in the next 25-30 years. The respective amounts from other areas south of Crete and in the exclusive zone of Greece in Mediterranean Sea are immense. Estimates only for the Greek mineral resources are 40bn euro as well. Solar power in Greece is in abundance although the initial efforts to be exploited somehow managed to be stopped and even putting Greeks to pay taxes to retain some solar energy production.

Conclusion

Greece in the post-Cold and post-Lehman Brothers era found itself in the middle of a fierce geopolitical struggle both within West where there was a disagreement between Germany and US in the right way that economic crisis should be addressed and confronting efforts of Russia and China to exploit its weak state capacity.

Greeks and their successive governments failed to react dynamically and resort to introversion. Soon the crisis turned into panic leading its workforce to flee away mainly in Europe and other strong World economies. Populism and nationalism were logical to prevail making the situation worse while uncontrolled incidents like the influx of refugees had finally to be dealt with support from outside through NGOs and NATO that reinforced Greek malfunctioning state.

West, international organizations like IMF and EU institutions hesitate to designate the true sources of Greek crisis. An electoral authoritarian has been established where elections have little to do with liberty and prosperity. A full sale patronage system of oligarchs has taken the power from the official state where its institutions fail to respond and recover. Elected governors from a political elite care more to rip the fruits of the power and extend their political life than change the country. Any resistance is easily eradicated justifying completely people’s strong disapproval of all existing politicians. There is no external support from outside as the colony system still seems relevant defining the relations between strong and weak nations in 21th century.

EU has failed as Rousseau foresaw to bring a unify ideology into practice. As a result people and nations are dissatisfied turning back to nationalism and EU dismantling. Greece seems to invest more than it should in an EU integration forgetting to care for itself on its own. A well imposed attitude of resorting to other strong nations of EU as a panacea proved to be disaster both in economic terms and more serious in destroying national spirit.

Greece being in the periphery of Europe seems to continue in 21th century to be a servant of the Europe core. Under an economy of services mainly through tourism and a mental “hemorrhage” of its youth and qualified workforce there is nothing left than serve summer leavers from the North in exchange of low salaries and a stagnant economy.

Under present projections growth of 1% till 2060 under huge debt leaves no space for hope and verifies a loom future far away from liberalism towards an elite repressive and corrupted regime. A World alliance seems to have been shaped in coordination to rule Greece for another century under a neocolonialism status of Gunder Frank where the latter will have sovereignty but in fact be prisoner of a structure which it cannot afford.

Orthodox Church, ancient history and invisible military threats are expected to continue their role in keeping Greece under the same populist spirit with only goal its remain in a peculiar West hostage. 800 million euro in Swiss banks belonging to Greek elite system seems to be the mortgage of Greeks slavery.

No doubt, it is “oil course” in its modern appeal that imprisons Greece. Oil, natural gas, mineral resources, sun, wind and water become nightmare instead of blessing of Gods for Greeks waiting simply the day that a Prometheus return to them the light of their life. A dusting bowl that will dump this social dirt or a Hercules that will clean the modern Augeas stables.

In another dimension of the ones that were described by Kenneth Waltz in last century there is that with the soil of the states where sincerity between states should prevail in order to move this World in another era. The intangible virtues of the man and state should link this transnational World in a consistent manner with modern life that technology does and avoid incidents like Greece in the start of this century where hypocrisy and evil create an unsolved problem in IR deliberately, making theorists anachronistic, state leaders puppets, man “animal” and people “herds”.

We cannot go on in this interconnected World of men, spirits, soils and cables in the same way we did in the past-Westphalia era without making it inhabitable finally by a WWIII. We have to get rid of “Westphalian straitjacket” letting free the state and the man. A new theory IR is needed for God’s sake.