By Con George-Kotzabasis
November 19, 2014
The Greek Opposition and the media in general by demonizing The Memorandum with its austere measures that has been imposed upon Greece by the Troika, i.e., the European Commission, the ECB, and the IMF, as a condition for the flow of funds from the latter to the Greek Treasury for the purpose of saving the country from insolvency and gradually placing it on a trajectory of economic recovery, has made it impossible for anyone to reasonably argue, or even to imply, that this necessary austerity, after a mindless profligate spending by previous governments that sunk Greece into an unfathomable debt and debarred it from the financial markets and threw it into an unprecedented spin of economic crisis since the ending of World War II, would generate beneficent results and would pull the country eventually out of its economic crisis.
History has repeatedly shown that countries in critical situations, almost like a law of nature, give rise to extraordinary men/women of stupendous wisdom, mettle, and will power that saved their nations from destruction. Themistocles at the battle of Salamis that saved Greece from Xerxes’ despotism and his barbarian myrmidons, Lincoln in the American Civil War, and Churchill in World War II, are outstanding examples. Likewise in contemporary Greece from the ashes of its economic holocaust, a phoenix, in the figure of Antonis Samaras, had risen to salvage the country from its tragic economic mess. In the short space of two years the Samaras government accomplished an unprecedented feat, that no other government in the world was ever able to consummate, i.e., to draw the country from the edge of a precipitous calamity and place it by gradual firm steps on the solid ground of inchoate economic recovery. This was achieved by a series of structural reforms that made the country more competitive, and by painful cuts in the budget that generated for the first time a primary surplus in the current year, after many years of budget deficits that was the embedded malaise of the policies of previous governments and were the major cause that pushed Greece into bankruptcy. Also, for the first time after forgetting, but not forgiving, many years of negative growth, the country’s GDP in 2014 has increased by 0.7%, and unemployment has decreased from 28% to 25.9%, in the same year, and is estimated to decrease to 25% by the end of 2014.
It is because of these achievements of the Samaras government, that I believe that the TROIKA will be compelled to back down from its severe and apparently unyielding demands, in its impending negotiations with the Greek government in a few days, and will render a positive review of the policies implemented by the latter as stipulated in the Memorandum, which is the sine qua non of Greece’s exit from the strictures of the Memorandum by the end of 2014. It is inconceivable that the TROIKA will persevere with its hard position and put in jeopardy these successes of the Samaras government, that after all, emanated from its own austerity measures that were contained in its own directives as designated in the Memorandum. The TROIKA cannot be so foolish as to throw a spanner in its own works! Hence, the nonsensical fear, that has been so gloomily and frivolously fanned by the Greek media that the TROIKA will continue its hard-line toward the government and place in predicament, and waste, all the sacrifices Greeks had made to turn their country into a modern economy and fecund with prosperity, will dissipate with the softening and compulsion of the TROIKA to withdraw its hard stand.
I rest on my oars: your turn now.No comments
By Con George-Kotzabasis
Brief reply to: An Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) First Strategy
By Robert Bunker Small Wars Journal August 30, 2014
One has to make a clear distinction between real existent hostility (ISIS) and potential hostility (by other uncertainly defined actors), so one has to be decisive in one’s choice which hostility to confront first. Robert Bunker is correct in stating, “an Islamist state has to be considered more dangerous than a secular autocratic state.” The latter is “ideologically bankrupt” whereas the former because of its “spiritual ideological component” has “a very real expansionist potential” and therefore is “more dangerous.” According to this logic therefore, one has primarily to confront and ELIMINATE this danger emanating from ISIS and not merely weaken the latter for the purpose of maintaining it as a force that would prevent other forces inimical to the United States from filling the “political and institutional vacuum” left by the decimation and total defeat of ISIS. First, ISIS in its short reign, other than verbally and ceremonially as true believers of the Koran, has hardly established a “political and institutional” framework that with its ousting would be occupied by other belligerent and hostile forces. The area upon which its so called Caliphate was established, from which thousands of people fled to save their lives, will once again, with the total defeat of ISIS, revert back to its original occupiers, Syrians, Kurds, and Iraqis, who with the exception of Syrian supporters of Assad, the latter two groups are hardly enemies of the USA.
The defeat of ISIS by American airpower and by forays of its Special Forces and its allies of Kurds and Iraqis on the ground will be a decisive blow to all Islamist terrorists, including those of al Qaeda. And it will put an end to the flow of its recruits from internal and external sources. I would suggest therefore that to achieve this great victory one must adopt the strategy that will defeat and eliminate ISIS and not the strategy that will degrade and weaken it.No comments
By Con George-Kotzabasis August 10, 2014
Reply to ‘Recruiting Muslims to Team Australia’ by Waleed Aly
The Age, August 8, 2014
Waleed Aly, since his acquisition of celebrity status by his prominence, but not cerebral preeminence, on the screens of the ABC and the pages of The Age, has prudently hidden his past implicit, if not explicit, support and justification of Muslim terrorism, although in his above piece on the Fairfax press could not as prudently conceal his crypto justification of the holy warriors of Jihad. In his attempt to turn the “short bow” of the government’s new counter-terror laws into a ‘long bow’ of the connection between section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and counter-terrorism—despite the fact that the government ultimately dropped its amendments, unwisely in my opinion, to section 18C on the false assumption that they would be communally and nationally divisive—he exposed himself, not only to a fallacious argument by not taking in consideration that in the long fight against terror one also has to be able freely to criticize the religion, as interpreted by its radical imams, from which the ideology of jihadism emanates, but also revealed himself as an insidious furtive espouser of Jihad by trying to conceal the connection of 18C and counter-terrorism.
The defeat of terrorism is ineluctably twofold, since it is an engagement both in the field of battle and in the realm of ideas, of criticism and counter-criticism. Hence, free expression is an indispensable and necessary ‘weapon” against the devotees of terror. The dumping, therefore, by the Abbot government, of the amendments to section 18C of the Act in the name of the interests of ‘national unity’, is an action of shallow thinking whose unwitting egregious constrain of free expression is a serious error that will gravely weaken the government’s fight against terrorism.
Waleed Aly with his tinsel pop idol status is not squeamish and has no reservations in entering and delving in the abstruse rarefied affairs of philosophy. He insists, that ‘to draw a…connection between 18C and counter-terrorism requires a long bow. But the…attempt to do so (by the government) has intriguing philosophical consequences’ (M.E.). He claims that by this connection, ‘the government is implicitly accepting the social dimensions of terrorism.’ The latter, ‘gathers around feelings of alienation and social exclusion; that intelligence flows best from communities that feel valued and included rather than surveilled and interrogated. This…accords with the best research we have on the psychology of radicalisation and effective counter-terrorism policing.’ But what are these real ‘social dimensions,’ and not the fabricated ones, of Waleed Aly, that are endeavouring to put the blame for terrorism on Western societies whose discriminatory conduct toward Muslims is the cause of their alienation and exclusion, according to Aly? Why this same “discriminatory conduct” to other migrants, such as Chinese, Hindus, and southern Europeans, has not alienated them to the same degree and induced them to become terrorists? Aly in his studious endeavour to shift the blame oddly disregards, or rather hides, the fact, that this ‘alienation’ and ‘social exclusion’ on the part of most Muslims is voluntary and is an outcome of their culture and religion, which according to them is by far superior to Western culture and Christianity, and therefore makes them repugnant to adopt the principles of Western culture or integrate into it; as such assimilation would entail for them the replacement of their superior culture with an inferior one. He also ignores and overlooks the fact that a great number of the perpetrators of terror come from well-to-do families and are mostly well educated. The leader of the suicidal squad of 9/11 was the son of an Egyptian teacher and was educated in a Western university, and the terrorist, who had failed to blow-up Heathrow airport in London, was a medical doctor, who, when he was arrested called Allahu Akbar, God is Great, not to mention others. These people were hardly alienated and excluded by Western societies as all of them received their degrees from western universities. What recruited them to terrorism was their deep hate of Western societies and its Great Devil, America, a hate that was incubated in Mosques and Muslim schools by fanatical imams and teachers, respectively. These are the roots of terrorism, and not the specious psychology of Waleed Aly that connects the “radicalisation’ of Muslims to discriminatory exclusion and alienation by Western societies, as a result of his poverty of thought or his sinister and clandestine espousing of terrorism.
It is also erroneous on his part to believe ‘that intelligence flows best from communities that feel valued and included rather than surveilled, suspected and interrogated.’ The truth is that in free societies all communities are ‘valued and included,’ and Muslims are no exception to this principle and there is hardly any evidence of discrimination against them. The surveillance and interrogation is an outcome of past and imminent terrorist actions as broadcasted by terrorists themselves. It would be gigantically foolish to take these ominous threats not seriously. The government has a huge responsibility to protect its citizens from the fanatical death squads of Islamist terror. It must take relentless and most severe measures to protect Australians from future actions of terror that could kill thousands of them in shopping malls and football grounds. The threat of Muslim fanatics to kill in the future thousands of Australians is an act of war. It is therefore incumbent on the government to enact emergency legislation, as in war, to deprive the right of all Australian jihadists, who had fought in Syria and Northern Iraq to establish a caliphate, to return back to Australia by annulling their passports. As a return of these fanatics back to Australia will incalculably pose a menacing threat to the country and to the lives of its citizens. It would be fanciful and inane to think that once these fanatics return to Australia they will be remorseful and repent about the atrocities they committed on their adversaries in Syria and Iraq and declare their mea culpas for the beheadings on which their rudimentary Caliphate was established.
The Abbot government is beholden therefore to reconsider its withdrawal of the amendments to section 18C if it is prepared to seriously confront the future threats of terror on its soil, because, as I have argued above, free expression is a decisive weapon in the government’s arsenal against terror. This it must do even if the chances of these amendments to pass the Senate are slight. And if the Greens and the Labour Opposition chose to oppose these amendments they will reveal themselves as being derelicts of their duty to protect Australia and playing havoc with the security of the country and the lives of its citizens. The palmy days of Team Australia and its complacency are rapidly ending, as Islamist fanatics are recruiting to terrorism.
I rest on my oars:Your turn now.
I’m republishing the following paper for the readers of this new website hoping to find it to be of some interest.
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The following paper was written on September 20, 2006, and was sent to President Bush on the same date. The reason why it’s republished here in The…Journal, is that the Pentagon has now a secret plan to attack Iran within twenty four hours, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker magazine.
Distinguished former diplomats, like Warren Christopher, Clinton’s Secretary of State, remain at their “postless”, no new messages on diplomacy, posts, and continue to argue on the virtues of old diplomacy. In his piece on the Washington Post, July 28, 2006, he calls for “negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties” in Lebanon, and asserts that a “permanent” and “sustainable” solution to the root causes of the conflict—which is the goal of the Bush administration—“is achievable, if at all, by protracted negotiations.” As an example of such successful diplomacy that occurred under his tenure as Secretary, he refers to the rocket attacks by Hezbollah in April 1996 against Israel and the countering of the latter with Operation Grapes of Wrath, that the Cagliostro like arts of diplomacy successfully stymied this confrontation and ushered a truce between the parties that lasted for ten years. He claims, that only by such broad-minded diplomacy that involves all the players in the region could America stop its “tattered reputation.” But he is completely mindless of the fact that this long Truce was neither permanent nor sustainable, but, merely, a respite for the Hezbollah during which the latter would militarily train and proselytize its militia with its fanatic deadly ideology and arm it with Katyusha rockets for a deadlier future confrontation with its mortal enemy, the Jewish State, as we now see.
To repeat therefore the diplomacy of the past in the present context in the face of these lessons given by this flauntingly failed diplomacy, is not only to repeat the mistakes of the past, but more grievously still, to weaken Israel and its Western allies against greater impending dangers in the future. As the upshot of another long Truce between the belligerents now would only benefit Hezbollah by making it politically, ideologically, and militarily even stronger, and loading this time the tips of its rockets with weapons of mass destruction, including tactical nuclear weapons, thus fulfilling President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic foreboding of wiping Israel off the map. And needless to say, such an outcome would be a tremendous victory for global terror and a serious strategic reversal of the West’s war against it.
Furthermore, it would set in concrete the ambition of Iran to become the dominant power of the region, whose present trailblazing two-pronged strategy to forge an axis between Shi’ites and Sunnis, as the present pact between Iran and Syria illustrates, against their arch enemy Israel and to paralyze the EU and the US as a condominium to formulate an ironclad policy that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are the means by which it will achieve its aim. Since, according to the Ahmadinejad regime, the grand diversion that Lebanon has provided will ease its task to acquire a nuclear arsenal, as the divisions that would be spawned by the Lebanon crisis among the Western countries and within the UN about how to handle the situation on the ground, would be of such a nature that would completely enervate the US and EU condominium from forging a position that would stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.
Hence the war in Lebanon may initially appear to be a local conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but in reality is a geopolitical conflict between Iran and the Western powers since the former will be using the conflagration of Lebanon as a fulcrum to achieve its strategic goals (a) to acquire nuclear weapons, (b) to emerge as the predominant power in the region, (c) to become the leader of the Muslim world, and (d) to establish in the world the millenarian regime of the twelfth imam Mahdi. As the respected Middle East analyst Amir Taheri wrote in The Australian, on August 7, 06, “to Ahmadinejad to wipe off Israel is the first step toward defeating the ‘infidel’ West”. He furthermore quotes Iran’s state controlled media as saying “that Lebanon would become the graveyard of the Bush plan for a new Middle East”. And Tehran believes, “that a victory by Hezbollah…will strengthen Ahmadinejad’s bid for the leadership of radical Islam”. And Taheri comes to the conclusion “all the talk of a ceasefire, all the diplomatic gesticulation may ultimately mean little in what is an existential conflict”.
Will the “new” diplomacy, as embodied in the unanimously approved resolution by the UN Security Council, in its stylishly dashing French clothes, but worn, by the old decrepit body of diplomatic thinking, bring the long desired, but up till now evanescent, permanent and sustainable solution to the region that so many attempts in the past failed to do? The auguries for such an outcome however, are far from favorable. The Council’s resolution calls for a halt to the fighting and Israel’s withdrawal “in parallel” with the deployment of UN peacekeepers and 15,000 Lebanese troops who will attempt to create a buffer zone in South Lebanon free of the Hezbollah militia. However, the resolution vaguely refers to the disarmament and dismantling of the latter, that is pivotal to a permanent and sustainable peace between Israel and Lebanon and whether such international force and the Lebanese army–which is riddled with Hezbollah sympathizers–even if they had a clear mandate to disarm Hezbollah, would have been able to accomplish this task, given the unambiguous statements of Hezbollah that it will not disarm. Nor does the resolution take a firm and implacable stand in stopping the supply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.
Hence, the dragon teeth of Hezbollah are still planted deep in Lebanon’s soil, presaging an even greater and more dangerous conflagration in the future between the warring parties, especially if Iran stealthily slips into the nuclear club. The UN resolution therefore is merely a soporific. It will provide a couch to Israel and Hezbollah so they can both lay down in a temporary state of dormancy until Hezbollah feels strong enough, in its never ending act, to wipe Israel off the map. Thus, the future confrontation will be by far more deadly than the present one, as possibly hundreds of thousands will lose their lives.
America’s New Strategic Diplomacy
Surely the American leadership must be aware of this lugubrious scenario that has been staged by this toothless resolution of the Security Council. Unless they have in mind a second stronger swift resolution that will be addressing the complete disarmament and dismantling of Hezbollah and irrevocably stopping Syria and Iran from supplying weapons to its proxy, they will entangle and compromise their up to now clear strategic position in the strategically myopic, unimaginative, fickle, and flabby diplomatic stance of their allies in continental Europe. It will be the ultimate folly, post 9/11, once you have identified your irreconcilable, implacable, and mortal enemy, as the Bush administration has done, to render the enemy and its proxies respites that will strengthen their military capability and make them even more dangerous as well as more difficult to defeat in the future, instead of destroying them at their weakest moment, as no kind of diplomacy ante 9/11, no matter how brilliantly conceived, can achieve the complete destruction of this infernal enemy.
The Bush administration being presumably aware of this fact, i.e., of the complete inadequacy of the old diplomacy, of which so many of its “encoreists”, such as Richard Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright, are continuing to give it “standing ovations”, does seem to be willing–despite its tactical errors in Iraq that have given rise to a rampant insurgency making the war more difficult to win and as a result of this making some members of the Administration more circumspect to launch another attack, this time on Iran–to take leave of its circumspection and embrace a more hawkish diplomacy that would be much more successful than the effete and barren diplomacy of the past. Such robust diplomacy will not be draped in the smooth velvety apparels of “old” Europe or in the tattered garments of the United Nations, but will be draped in the bristling carapace of a porcupine. While there will not be a scarcity of carrots in the exercise of this armed diplomacy, the sticks will be deadly in their threatening application against those intransigent nations that continue overtly or covertly to sponsor terrorists and use them as proxies to achieve their geopolitical and millenarian goals. The axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah will have the kiss of death planted on its forehead by this no “frills” American diplomacy. But the angel of death in this new diplomacy will be last in the queue. Before the US deploys as a last resort its lethal arsenal against the axis, it will in the incipient stages of this diplomacy call for the de-legitimatization of Iran and Syria as states that sponsor terror. Iran and Syria will become pariah states and will be isolated from the rest of the world. The only avenues that will remain open between the former and the latter will be the economic ones. But the economic transactions between de-legitimate states and the rest of the world will proceed not through individual states but through an intermediary channel, an international consortium whose representatives will be enlisted from the de jure states of the world who will deal with the economic representatives of the outlaw states. Such procedure will place the free world in a powerful negotiating position to impose its own economic regime on the outlaw states.
Needless to say, some nations will not accept, and will not abide, this “outlawing” of Iran and Syria and will continue to have their relations with the latter unchanged. But as long as the major nations of the world hold the line, this recalcitrance of these nations will in no way loosen the tightness of the noose around the throats of the outlaws, as the latter will be banned from attending all international forums where the important decisions in the affairs of the world are made.
The chances that the call for the de-legitimatization of states that sponsor terror, as a diplomatic move to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are quite high that it will rally many nations to support such a call as the best alternative to an American military attack against Iran, particularly, when such an attack would result in a great loss of lives as well as have the potential to throw the world’s economy into the doldrums, as it’s the latter as well as their electoral base that many European nations are mainly concerned with in the advent of an American attack on Iran. The exercise of this new adroit American diplomacy will address therefore both the concerns of the Europeans and the fears of Iran. It will have, on the one hand, enough carrots in its diplomatic basket to feed the Europeans and to entice them to the idea that the outlawing of Iran is the better option for all concerned than a devastating military confrontation with the latter, and on the other, it will have enough sticks to coerce Iran to abandon its goal to acquire nuclear weapons. In the intense pressure of the vice that the Ahmadinejad regime will find itself both as a possibly ostracized de-legitimate state or as a military target of the Americans, the odds are that the regime will succumb to this pressure. In the event that it sticks to its guns, then it will play Russian roulette with its own people, as such a stand will strengthen the internal opposition against the “mullahcratic” regime. And as the majority of Iranians shift behind the Opposition parties this could lead to the fall of the theocratic regime of Ahmadinejad by an army revolt that would act in the name of such strong opposition from the people.
The success of this diplomacy will depend entirely on the Bush administration making it unambiguously clear to its European allies, as well as Russia and China, of its utter determination that in the event the proposal to de-legitimatize states that sponsor terror is not adopted by the major nations of the world, then the US will have no other option but to attack militarily the rogue states that sponsor terror, and Iran will be the first one and more likely than not the only one, as the other ones will follow the example of Libya and cave in. It’s inconceivable to imagine, that the European nations, as well as China, for which the sine qua non for its present stratospheric economic development is the economic stability of the world, will be so dim-witted not to accept the American proposal and risk the chance that the Bush administration will not deliver on its threat.
Hence, this hawkish US diplomacy is far from being a long shot in persuading the major nations of the world to outlaw states that sponsor terror. Moreover, it has the great potential as a dual realizable threat to outlaw Iran or attack it militarily, to coerce the latter to unequivocally abide by the demands of the international community. In the event that the Ahmadinejad regime remains unwilling to discard its obsession to possess nuclear weapons and continues to defy the European Union and the United States in their demand to stop supplying its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah, with weapons, then the call will be on “the angel of death”, draped in stars and stripes, to jump the queue and put an end to this apocalyptic threat that stems from the regime of the mullahs.
Hic Rhodus Hic SaltaNo comments
By Con George-Kotzabasis May 17, 2014
On the 18th and 25th of May respectively, Greeks will be voting in the country’s municipalities and prefectures, and for the European Parliament. According to all polls, the contest between the major parties of the Coalition Government of New Democracy/Pasok and Syriza will be very close, and apparently the indecisive voters, who comprise 12% of the electors, will determine which of the major parties will win the elections.
In my opinion, the majority of this indecisive section of the electorate will cast their vote in favour of the Samaras Government and thus the latter will be the winner of the triple elections. My reasoning is that if this part of the electorate was inclined and had a strong feeling to protest against the government, for the harsh measures the latter had to implement, it would already have shown this inclination by intimating to the pollsters that it would vote for the Opposition Party of Syriza. It seems therefore to me that the undecided voters are more concerned about the political stability of the country and the slow but robust steps that the Samaras government is taking in pulling the country out of the crisis, which all serious international observers acknowledge and most economic indicators show, and thus will vote for the security the government accomplished in keeping Greece within Europe, than the insecurity the Opposition Party of Syriza represents with its dangerous and foolhardy policies that could lead to the ousting of Greece from Europe and to the economic catastrophe of the country.No comments
In the Thunderous Sky of Greece a Thunderbolt of Creative Destruction is about to Strike the Country
Greece, after its forced exile, four years ago, from the international financial markets, has returned, this week, back to them with aplomb to reap the confidence of the markets of its future economic development. In 2010, Greece, by numerous prominent economists and analysts and top economic journals, such as the Economist, was sentenced to death for its economic maladies that had brought the country into bankruptcy. This dire and calamitous situation however was overturned by the advent of Antonis Samaras as prime minister in June 2012, who, by selecting a constellation of bright stars as ministers, was able to accomplish by his strong and sagacious leadership, in the short space of two years, this reversal of misfortune that had engulfed the country as a result of the ill-fated fiscal policies of past governments. This achievement is unprecedented, as no country in the world was able to transform itself from the brink of economic ruin to economic recovery in such a short time. In the annals of economic history this illustrious outcome will be registered as the economic miracle of Greece.
The following paper was written on April 2012 and is republished for the readers of this blog.
By Con George-Kotzabasis December, 2012
The most respectable German newspaper Handelsblatt, proclaimed Antonis Samaras as the greatest European politician for the year 2012. At the same time the illustrious former Foreign Minister of Germany Hans-Dietrich Genscher, also praised Samaras in glowing terms as the politician, who after admitting his own mistakes and the disastrous economic policies of Greece that brought the latter to the brink of insolvency, brought the country with remarkable celerity and unsurpassable decisiveness on the right course that would rekindle the economy and lead the country toward economic development. Goldman Sachs is predicting that in the next 10 years Greek GDP will increase by 30%. The rating agency Moody’s increased the financial status of Greece by six points.
”Things grow at the right time, i.e. the right moment and the right perseverance. ‘For’, as [the German poet] Holderlin said, ‘the mindful God abhors untimely growth’ ”
History has shown that at critical moments, in countries of advanced and high culture, men of stupendous ability, imagination, foresight, and fortitude, sprang, like phoenixes from the ashes, to salvage their countries from mortal threats. Themistocles at the battle of Salamis that saved Greece from the barbarian Persian invasion, is one example, the other is Charles Martel, who at the battle of Poitiers stopped the barbarian Muslim invasion from conquering Europe. In our modern contemporaneous times, Greece, on the verge of being devoured and crashed by the ‘hungry fangs’ of default and economic poverty, is just as promptly to be saved by a modern-day Periclean statesman, Antonis Samaras.
In the early 1980’s, with the advent of Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government to power, which proved to be the destructive force that brought Greece to its present catastrophe, that immediately started implementing the serial economic crime of a policy of deficits, the country entered the vicious circle of government spending without economic development. By the early 90’s it was glaringly clear that the debt of the country was reaching astronomical heights that would lead it to the precipice of default and bankruptcy. In 1994, Constantinos Mitsotakis, the former prime minister of Greece, in a prophetic speech in Parliament, predicted that the economically crass and thoughtless policies of Pasok would send Greece as a mendicant to the International Monetary Fund to spare it from pauperism. Andreas Papandreou himself was shocked when at a sober moment glanced at the unfathomable debt that the country was in, as a result of his dirigisme economic policies. It was in his presence when his minister of finance Kostas Simitis remarked, in an accusatory and pungent phrase, that this was “the revenge of the economy.”
The false prosperity that had engulfed Greece turned a sizable part of its population to indulge in the charms and seductions of dolce vita at the expense of government largesse. A whole generation of Greeks had been spoiled and became kaloperasakides (the easy life of prodigally good-timers) under the perpetual munificence of the State. In such a social situation the New Democracy party, though imbued with the precepts of The Austrian School of economics versus Keynesianism, and realising, as its leader Constantinos Mitsotakis did, that the country was approaching in a rapid pace the edge of insolvency, had its hands politically manacled and could not implement decisively and with celerity, and with the necessary degree required, policies of economic restraint that would have prevented the transformation of Greece into a mendicant status, since there did not exist even a small constituency on the political landscape of Greece that would contemplate, least of all accept, policies of austerity. The Greeks had been ‘pathologically’ conditioned to the ‘benefits’ accruing from big government, introduced by Andreas Papandreou, and any attempt to small government by any party in power or any opposition propagating such an idea, could neither hold or win government. Who would give up the ‘free tans’ in sunny Greece that so profusely and generously the State was providing? And who would give up the cushy and loafing jobs in the public sector that the party boys and girls of Pasok and New Democracy were enjoying and relishing? This is the point from which the economic tragedy of Greece had started and would continue to its tragic end.
Thirty years of frivolous public spending brought debt-to-GDP ratio of 120%. Since October 2009 when the son of Andreas Papandreou, George, became prime minister and implemented measures of severe austerity as directed from Brussels in the first memorandum, debt reached 168% of GDP. With the continued recession of the country for the fifth year, Greece lost 16%–18% of its GDP since 2009.
From early 2010 the Opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, few months after his election as leader of the New Democracy party, was warning the Papandreou government of the danger that the austerity measures without economic recovery would lead the country into recession. But his was a lone voice in the wilderness. And for his bold and insightful decision to oppose and vote against the first memorandum replete with the leaden heaviness of austerity that would sink the Greek economy as it did, he was vehemently reprimanded both from within and outside the country. The Economist magazine severely criticised him for his stand against the memorandum but only to lament its critique two years later and concede that Samaras was right. Likewise, Chancellor Merkel and many European ministers with whom Samaras had quarrelled and pointed out to them that austerity measures without rekindling the economy would not resolve Greece’s problem but would make it more abstruse and harder to crack. It took two years for the top brains of Europe to realize that the austerity pills that they were forcing into Greece’s mouth to remedy its ills would have the effect of poisoning its body. (In two years of the severe austerity of the Memorandum, as we indicated above, Greece increased its debt to GDP by a great amount and lost a substantial part of its Gross Domestic Product as enterprises closed and unemployment ravaged the country.) And in turn, like The Economist, admitting that Samaras had won the argument, as all Europeans now are calling for economic recovery and development, supplemented by austerity measures that are necessary, as the way to restore a country’s economic strength.
The May 6 Elections of Greece Crucial for the Future of the Country
The impending election that has been called by the interim government of Lucas Papademos for May 6 is of momentous significance for the future course of the country. Greeks will be called to be partisans of the hard climb to the peak of Mt Olympus from where the sun of hope will rise once again over Greece or be partisans to a free fall in a long twilight of despair. The first is the thunderous call of the New Democracy Party under the Gulliverian and imaginative political leadership of Antonis Samaras, and the second is the deathlike mute call of a congeries of small parties from the left and the right led by Lilliputian politicians. These politically ‘pigmy’ parties, among which is the Communist Party, have no policies of rescuing Greece from its woes, except policies that would lead to the exiting from the European Union and return to the drachma that would lead in turn to the absolute poverty of the country, deliberately drop the curtain on all hope on Greece as their sole aim is to sordidly profit politically by their investment in hopelessness.
The socialist party, Pasok, the main opponent of New Democracy, although on the side of hope, even under the new leadership of Evangelos Venizelos, is totally discredited, as it has been the party that led Greece to its present catastrophe by a bout of unbelievable and unprecedented economic and political mistakes, that Venizelos himself was involved in and responsible, during the last two years that was in government. Moreover, the latest decision of the High Court of Greece to apprehend and charge a former luminary of Pasok and right-hand man of Andreas Papandreou, the founding father of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Akes Tsohatzopoulos, his wife and daughter, and some of his relatives, with bribery and corruption and with being the receiver and beneficiary of millions of dollars as paid commissions, during his tenure as minister of defence, from German and Russian companies to which he had authorized major assignments and projects of his department, has indelibly marked Pasok as venally corrupt; particularly when its present leader Venizelos, at the initial investigations of Tsohatzopoulos, with the stentorian voice of the lawyer, that he is, was defending and exculpating from any knave dealings, and with the usual catch-all alibi of the typical politician, that the “accusation against Tsohatzopoulos was politically motivated.” Hence, inconceivable political incompetence and culpability, and unfathomable corruption on the part of Pasok, will be two major themes that will dominate the elections and which will ineluctably lead to new lows in the polls for the socialists.
In this critical economic and political setting that the country is in and the looming threat of the breaking of social cohesion, Samaras is asking the Greek people to give New Democracy the “auto-dynamism,” by a majority of votes in the elections, so he can have his hands untied to govern the country with decisiveness and clear uncompromised policies that would put Greece on the trajectory of economic recovery and development. He argues cogently, that in the present political situation of Greece when consensus about the necessary economic policies among parties of how to regenerate the economy of the country is absent, a coalition government–which is the designated position of Pasok and according to the polls at this moment the desire of a majority of the electorate–will be politically impracticable, and more importantly, would not drag out the country from its peril but would further engulf it into profounder depths; as one could not govern effectively a country in a crisis and gradually bring it out of it by being compelled to make compromises to one’s political partners, but only by a well-defined plan and decisive and prompt action to implement it without compromises, by a leader who has a strong mandate from the electorate.
Samaras believes, and reasonably hopes with the confidence of a statesman, that during the electoral period and closer to election date, there will be a dramatic shift of voters toward polarized positions, once the crucial issues of the country are spelled out clearly and without lies to the people by New Democracy and by foreshadowing the practical economic policies backed by real numbers that would put Greece on the track of economic recovery, there is a great chance that the majority of Greeks will give New Democracy a strong mandate to govern on its own for the benefit of all Greeks and for the salvation of the country.
Samaras contended long ago, that only through a clear strong authorization given to him by a majority of the people he would be able to radically change Greece. For real economic development entails not only good policies and incentives but a transformation in the views and customs of people toward such development. He puts great emphasis on the value of human capital and entrepreneurship as the prerequisites for the economic recovery of the country. That is why he has promised to re-legitimize private enterprise and effort that for many years now has been delegitimized in the country by communist-led unions, to whom profit has been, as always, the devil-incarnate of the capitalist free market.
The present high unemployment of more than 20% Samaras contends, will not be reduced by mere lower labour costs which already have been decreased by 15% in the private sector while the tax burden on the latter has increased by 50% and energy costs by 450%. Even if Greeks worked for free no one would hire them with such high taxes and energy costs. Samaras in his Zappeio III speech few days ago declared that he would cut corporate tax to a flat rate of 15%, sharply cut pay-roll tax, lower personal income-tax to 32% maximum, and reduce taxes substantially on fuel and tourism. This would make harder rampant tax evasion and would unleash the creativity of the private sector and hence commence the gradual reduction in unemployment. He also announced, that he would increase the lowest pensions to 700 euros per month–that were reduced drastically by the second Memorandum under the austerity measures–and would increase the endowment of families with many children which would not only correct an injustice inflicted upon these two weak sections of society but would also have favourable economic consequence as they would increase consumer demand, which is so important in rekindling the economy, as both recipients of this government assistance spend their money in consumer goods. He would do these two things without increasing public expenditure and hence worsening the deficit, but by cutting government wastage that is so massive and profligate in the State’s spending. Further, he will provide incentives to private enterprise in areas where Greece has almost unchallengeable comparative advantage, i.e., in the merchant marine sector, ship building, and tourism; and in the production and merchandise of olive oil and other agricultural goods by the local producers themselves, not by foreign ones as is the case presently, whose development in all the above sectors will vitally affect the resurgence of the economy. He also proposes to provide incentives to entrepreneurs to exploit the rich mineral resources of the country and to give priority to find and tap the vast natural gas deposits under the Aegean Sea, by declaring the Greek AOZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) that could transform the export dynamic of Greece. He intends further, to reverse the present dryness of liquidity in the country by proffering amnesty from any legal penalties to those who withdrew their cash holdings from Greek banks during the height of the crisis and deposited them overseas once they bring them back to the country; and also by immediately paying back the 6.5 billion euros that the government owes to domestic enterprises; these two measures would increase the liquidity of the banks and hence their ability to provide loans to the private sector, especially to small businesses, that are the backbone of the country’s economy. Moreover, the re-capitalization of the banks, Samaras argues, will enable them to borrow funds at low interest rates from the European Central Bank, that were set up by it last December, which would be used to put Greece on the track of recovery and economic development.
It is by this method of supply-side economics, as that wunderkind Alders Borg the Swedish Finance Minister illustrated for his own country that Greece’s economy will rise again. The necessary austerity measures stipulated in the new Memorandum that Greece has to implement must be accompanied by the rejuvenated “animal spirits” of private enterprise. Samaras, consistently has been saying for the last two years that “we need a recovery to jump-start the economy,” and in conditions of recession austerity measures cannot stimulate the economy but on the contrary sink it deeper into stagnation.
The vision and plan of Samaras is to plant radical changes on the whole landscape of Greece. In his Zappeio speech he adumbrates constitutional changes that would separate the three branches of government the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary and thus prevent a member of parliament from being a minister, which has been in the past a malignant link of political corruption and has bestowed ‘asylum’ to members of parliament for their malfeasances. He pledges to bring changes to educational institutions that would reclaim the proud heritage of Greece that tragically has been eroded by the cultural relativists of a left coterie of pseudo-intellectuals and led to the disconnection of many young Greeks from their great cultural origins. He also promises to take drastic measures against illegal migrants, whom he calls “unarmed invaders” of Greece that under the soft immigration policies of Pasok they have occupied the main centres of cities, and remove them to provincial hostels until their eventual expulsion. Another important commitment of Samaras is to transform the bon vivant ethos of many Greeks, which up till now its tab has been picked up by the government, into a creatively productive one. On the new green tree planted by New Democracy, the singing cicadas will be replaced by fecund working bees. As Samaras is fully aware that sustainable economic development cannot be accomplished without transformative changes in the thinking and the mores of the people, especially of the younger generation.
Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare. He is endowed charismatically both with a high intellect and remarkable moral strength along with the will and determination—all the stuff out of which statesmen are made–to change all things in Greece. But whether this lightning bolt of creative destruction will strike Greece or not depends on the strong mandate that he needs from the people. If Greeks do not fail, at this critical juncture, from fulfilling their historical duty to render to New Democracy a majority of seats in Parliament, then Antonis Samaras, in turn, will consummate the cultural, political, and economic Renaissance of Greece.
Hic Rhodus hic SaltaNo comments
I’m republishing this short piece that was written on May 10, 2012, for the readers of this blog.
What actually decides is our character Jose Ortega y Gasset
By Con George-Kotzabasis May 10, 2012
Surprisingly, you are profoundly pessimistic, not to say nihilistic, about Antonis Samaras, who is the greatest politician appearing on the political firmament of Greece since Eleftherios Venizelos. Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare, endowed with that rare combination of high intellect, imagination, stupendous moral strength, and economic insight, which he proved by his prediction of the disastrous policy of austerity, encapsulated in the first European Memorandum as a remedy to Greece’s dire economic peril, without economic resurgence.
Statesmen are not responsible for the ignorance and political immaturity of their people. They try to lead even in a vacuum of understanding among their people about the real dangers their country is facing. The tragedy of Samaras was that his clear and sagacious policies were not able to overcome and trump the ignorance of a large part of the electorate about the real dangers that were threatening Greece, especially in a state of akyvernisia (Lack of government).
As a physicist you must know the fate of Galileo and how difficult it is to nullify ignorance. And your quote of Christopher Hitchens in your blog gives me the sense that you are aware of this difficulty. To wish therefore for Samaras removal, seems to me not only unjust but also politically immoral. And to hope that the leader of Syriza, AlexisTsipras, a staunch votary of Hugo Chavez, that he will change his inveterate leftist populist position of anti-Europe led by Germany, is to indulge in wishful thinking.
In moments of a great crisis, statesmen have the obligation and responsibility to lead their people from darkness to enlightenment and imbue them with indispensable hope about their immediate future, so they can overcome the crisis.No comments
I’m republishing this small piece that was written on October, 2012, for the readers of this blog.
By Con George-Kotzabasis
“Scariest stories ever written about contemporary America” is the story that makes some of the political toddlers of The Washington Note to run and cover themselves under their bed sheets. Sans political wisdom, sans political and historical insight, and hence, sans cognitive and intellectual legitimacy they attempt to analyse the world shaking event of 9/11 and the Administration’s protagonists response to the crescent shaped bolt that appeared over the blue sky of America with their childish fears. And for fear to be effective it must have its bogey apparitions. So we have Cheney, Addington, and Bolton wrapped up with white sheets in the middle of the night scaring the bejeesus out of the liberal intelligentsia with their nefarious schemes of “a massive expansion of presidential power” starting an “illegitimate war,” creating “a system for spying on American citizens…sanctioned torture”, and “pushed official secrecy to unprecedented levels.” The critics of Cheney, Addington, and Bolton never learning the abc and never reaching the omega of statecraft are shocked to see and it’s beyond their comprehension that in moments of national crises the expansion and concentration of presidential power is the sine qua non of strong political leadership and a necessary but temporary measure to protect a nation from malicious lethal enemies, both external and internal.
All the above measures that Steve Clemons highlights were instigated by the Vice President solely for the protection of America. It was an unenviable task and it could only be performed by the strong. One must not forget that in hard times only the hard men/women prevail. And Cheney, Addington, and Bolton will be panoramic figures in American history for their political and strategic insight, strength of character, and their indefatigable efforts to shield the United States and the West from the fanatical irreconcilable enemies of Islam.No comments
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The present politically negative stand of Pasok to the Samaras government introduction of the payment of twenty-five euros for medical treatment in public hospitals for those who can afford to pay it is utterly unwise and politically reprehensible and condemnable as it could destabilize the coalition government of New Democracy and Pasok. The latter must realize that its political fortune and éclat is tied up solely with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis and by putting it on the trajectory of economic development and hence to the gradual reduction of unemployment, and not on any ephemeral gains, on the polls. In the event which is most unlikely that the electorate will not render to Pasok the justified plaudits for the economic success of the government, history will pass the ultimate judgment and write in golden letters the prudent participation of Pasok in the formation of the Samaras government as its ultimate contribution toward saving Greece from economic and political catastrophe.
This stupendous success of the Coalition Government will erase all other parties, from Syriza to the Golden Dawn, from the electoral map and will be their Nemesis for their sinister and perfidious populist policies that shamelessly deceived a sizeable part of the people by their totally false promises and completely screwball inapplicable policies. Only New Democracy and Pasok will reap the fruits of this tremendous success that had prevented Greece from falling into the abyss of disaster. It is for this reason that Pasok must immediately cease its adverse stand toward the twenty-five euro payment whose raison d’etre is the restructuring of the medical system so it can render better services to its more indigent patients.
Serious economic analysts both within and outside Greece are forecasting that the country by the end of 2014 will be out of the economic crisis as a result of the painful but necessary austerity measures that the Samaras government had taken, by reducing the public sector that impeded economic growth, by privatizing public corporations, and by making the economy more competitive and entrepreneurial. Hence the prudent policies of the Samaras government would draw foreign investment into the country that in turn would lead to the resurgence of the economy and for the first time in six years 2014 would show, according to economic predictions, a fiscal surplus and a small growth of 0.5 in Gross Domestic Product.
Needless to say political stability is a prerequisite for starting a spree of investment. Pasok by foolishly shaking this stability for electoral interests apparently seems to be unaware that by doing so it hinders and discourages indigenous and international entrepreneurs from making any investments that are so vital for the economic recovery of the country.
It is this great achievement of the government in pulling Greece out of the crisis that Pasok in an unprecedented conduct of political frivolity could jeopardize by refusing to pay a twenty-five euro fee for treatment in a public hospital, which could bring about the collapse of the Samaras government.No comments
By Con George-Kotzabasis
A reply to Bruce Wilder, suggesting default for Greece and Italy as the remedy for their economic crisis.
In serious discussion it is wise to enter it carrying a sieve in one’s hands to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Your crystal clear “efficient calculating machine” that would implement your proposal of default, would be no other than a wise, brave, imaginative, and humane technocrat. So what exactly you have against technocrats? They are OK if they adopt your plan and only transported to Hades in toto for their ‘mortal sins’, if they don’t! Default was and is always an option. The distinguished economist Deepak Lal and exponent of the Austrian School of economics, long ago suggested such a schema. Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy respectively, both presumably have this option in their arsenal to be used as a last resort if everything else fails. But before they use this ‘nuclear’ option, they must try, and be given the right by all objective analysts and commentators, to resolve this economic crisis by ‘conventional’ means that could avoid a default which would open a big hole in their countries GDP and throw their people into pauperization for decades to come.No comments