Monday, June 29, 2015


Seldom have the performers of this Greek tragedy been as bad. Euripides must turn in his grave!  The problem is solvable. Archimedes knew the laws and the rules but here and now they are overrun by ulterior motives, short-sighted pride and animosity.  Actually, the sum of problems is even more serious than its major component:  the financial debacle.

If it continues on its downward spiral, Greece could easily return to its historical "resume", which is not that reassuring. The country is of strategic importance and its anti-American DNA only lies dormant. The times of the Truman Doctrine are over and the danger of letting another black hole be created in the Mediterranean is real. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party represent a leftist nihilistic strain which could become nefarious.  The referendum's outcome might bring him the poisoned victory chalice, but it might as well hand him Socrates' equally lethal potion.  A 'No' vote will make him a victor without international clout. A 'Yes' vote would become a loss of face, cutting short his political life. In between social unrest, the role of the army, social implosion might be the ingredients of a witches brew!

The Brussels negotiations were a recipe for disaster. The EU Commission's president looked absurd amidst kisses, cajoling, reprimanding, and without a clear message. Austerity was presented as a capital punishment while it should have been formulated as a provisory therapy erga omnes and not directed at an accused party. No need to dwell on Greece's many structural problems, which Tsipras inherited by the way. His Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis waged an antiquated class warfare which only upset further those who were willing to be patient. Intelligence without flair is like driving well with a flat tire. The accumulated personalized conflicts finished off what remained of good will.

Will a possible exit from the euro zone be followed by an exit from the EU?  I doubt it, since Putin might prefer to be a spoiler rather than invest in a bottomless basket-case. The Balkans and Turkey are not exactly pro-Hellenic and Greece, reduced to itself and its drachma, risks becoming more unhelpful (Cyprus, Macedonia, NATO...) and menacing since there are some more irrational "temptations" lurking in the background which might become destabilizing. Besides contagion might weaken the EU's defense mechanisms.
It is almost absurd to imagine that the situation might run out of control.  It says something about the workings of the EU, the ECB and the IMF (which was nevertheless the more principled of the three). If Greece handled the situation poorly, the EU looked equally impervious to creativity and savoir faire. Only the euro zone president deserves praise.

There is still time before Sunday.  The United States might be wise to choose urgency (Greece) over expediency (Iran).   I can well imagine that Chancellor Merkel will consider the expiration of the bailout tomorrow as the end of this saga, for now.   Imagine a conflict of Yesterday in the 21st Century?! 

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