Greece:What to Do with Missed the Mark Politics of Pasok and Democratic Left?

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 3, 2013

The Samaras’ Government, like Atlas on his back, is carrying and attempting to transform and move Greece’s awesome heavy burden of unprecedented economic insolvency, since the ending of the Second-World-War, onto the stage of economic recovery and development. By succeeding in this most difficult enterprise it will also justify the positive, against the negative, economic remedies formulated in the second Memorandum by the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the so called Troika, for the purpose of saving Greece from economic catastrophe, and thus simultaneously enhance the credibility, and indeed, the survival of the EU as an institution of crucial influence and guidance in world affairs.

In this call to national salvation three politically and ideologically disparate parties 0f New Democracy, Pasok, (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and the Democratic Left (Demar) decided to form a coalition government whose main goal was to keep Greece within the European Union and salvage the country, with the financial help of the latter, from economic bankruptcy that would have devastated the standard of living of the major part of the population and would have brought a proud nation to the status of indigence and economic despair for at least a generation. The two leaders, of Pasok and Demar, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis, respectively, seeing the prodigious dangers the country was facing, raised their height to these dire circumstances and wisely decided to stand hand in hand with an ideological opponent, that is, the liberal conservative party of New Democracy and its leader Antonis Samaras, for the purpose of saving Greece from this imminent catastrophe. Hence the two leaders of the left put their ideological reputation and the future viability, and, indeed, the existence of their parties at immense risk by their decision to support a government led by Samaras, their erstwhile conservative opponent, and tie themselves and their parties to the fortunes of the latter, that is, whether the Samaras’ government will succeed or not in pulling the country out of the crisis and start the economic development that is so vital in overcoming the terrifying economic difficulties that Greece countenances at the moment.

There are grounds to make one believe that Greece economically and politically might be at a turning point. The Samaras government after succeeding in convincing its European partners, in exceedingly difficult negotiations, to provide the funds Greece needed, to ignite its economy and place the country on the path of development, under less onerous terms of the bailout than the initial ones the Europeans were demanding. This was a great success and a great achievement of the government and demonstrating at the same time its virtuoso skills in the art of negotiations.

The government announced last month that it had beat its budget targets for 2012. Finance Minister Stournaras claimed that the government was close to achieving a primary surplus—the budget surplus before taking into account payments on the debt—this year that would deliver, according to the mutual agreement of the parties, a further package of help from the Euro-zone.  Employment statistics also showed, that within the span of the last two months the number of workers hired exceeded by nearly nine thousand the number of workers dismissed for the first time since the crisis. Furthermore, the recapitalization of the banks was on track and bound to be consummated in the next few weeks and the spigots of liquidity were therefore ready to be opened that would provide the private sector the funds for investment. Last week, the president of the National Bank stated that levels of liquidity are progressively established and 10 billion Euros could flow into the real economy. And already 50% of one thousand of small and large private enterprises announced that they were preparing to start investing within the current year. The internationally renowned telecommunications company Nokia is planning to establish a branch in Athens that would employ hundreds of highly skilled technicians and could become a magnet that would attract other foreign corporate giants to the country and thus by their presence would provide a continuous economic confidence for the country’s future. The Task Force of the European Commission last week issued favourable reports that the Greek economy was about to be re-ignited although it warned the government that small businesses had been dried of funds and their future operations were at risk. Also the credit ratings agency Moody’s estimated that Greece would have a positive rate of growth in 2014, after five years of negative growth.

Thus we see that there are ample encouraging signs that Greece might be at the crucial point of overcoming the crisis. It is most important therefore that the two parties, Pasok and Demar, that support the Samaras government, must first take note of these auspicious indices and that the current measures of the government are putting the country on the axis of economic development, and second, must not jeopardise this favourable situation by rigidly sticking to their parties position on other issues, such as labor relations and on the restructuring of the public sector, which are contrary to the overall current policy of the government and could endanger the economic progress the latter is making in overcoming the crisis.

The coalition partners must become fully aware that their political viability is tied up not with the sacred ideological position these parties hold on a variety of issues, contra the neo-liberal position of New Democracy, and pushing these toward their consummation, at this critical juncture whose primary goal is the salvation of the country, is a most imprudent diversion from the main goal. On the contrary, their political future is tied up with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis. The electorate will not remember them and will not elect them for being pure to their ideological position but for their pragmatic support of a neo-liberal government that saved Greece from economic oblivion and mass poverty. In the event the Samaras administration fails in this complex immensely difficult and great task would likewise totally discredit and everlastingly condemn and cast to political oblivion both Pasok and Demar for their support of this failed government, no matter how favorable the former have been on other minor issues, in comparison to the major issue, that are dear to the hearts of the many. Their responsibility to the country and to themselves therefore lies in their pragmatic assessment of the policies of the government beyond ideology as to whether they are better placed to extricate the country from the crisis.

It is for this reason that in this process of the Renaissance of Greece, under the wise and strong leadership of Antonis Samaras, the cohesion of these partners in the salvation of the country is of unaccountable importance. Thus for Pasok and Demar not to miss the mark is to realize that the failure or success, in this uniquely historical venture of saving Greece, will determine their political viability in the future and not their ideological hues on secondary issues.

I rest on my oars:your turn now

 

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The Gravitational Force that Pulled European Nations into a Black Hole

Government intervention always wills the good and works the bad.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The European Union’s sovereign debt crisis was neither an act of fate nor an act of a free self-dependent man but an act of deluded ideology whose sails were blown by the long-lasting winds of government dirigisme, i.e., intervention, and welfare dependency. Once again it was the work, the social engineering, of the bien pensants in the form of a state directory of planning that would put a floor of security for the masses and protect them from falling into abject economic privation that was always, according to their thinking, the omnipresent and inevitable result of the unjust, harsh, and unequal regime of the capitalist competitive free market. The trouble was that this floor was made out of straw and at the first jump of an economic crisis–whose seeds were planted by government intervention,  loose monetary policy and low interest rates–would open a gaping hole through which this security would disappear and drown in a massive pool of unemployment and poverty.

The Eurozone’s one dimensional foundation of monetary union without banking and fiscal union could not sustain the European edifice in the long run with the differentiating regime of taxes, social benefits, and pensions that existed among its constituent states. The proliferation and prodigality of unsustainable Entitlement Economies, which have been the characteristics of the welfare states of Europe especially in the south, could not have been continued without cracking the economic underpinnings of the Eurozone. Also, the European Central Bank’s enabling of low risk premiums on interest rates of government debt, encouraged Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland to go on an orgy of borrowing and overspending. The inevitable outcome was a stampede of budget deficits that were unsustainable and the eventual loss of all credibility in the financial markets that the afflicted States would be able to pay back their debts and thus the shutting out of the latter from the global financial lending pool.

Since no private person would hazard to lend money to states lassoed in sovereign debt the only alternative left was for the richest countries in the Eurozone, such as Germany, to become the lenders and continue to finance the former for their economic survival. But such help would be given under very severe terms encapsulated in strict Memoranda to the receiving countries with the stipulation that the latter would adopt and implement stringent austerity measures that would decrease substantially government expenditure, would restructure and reform their economies making them more competitive, and privatizing public enterprises, whose inefficiency and lack of a diligent working ethos can only be sustained by a continuous expensive staple of government subsidies.

These austerity measures, however, whose formulators have been the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, the so called Troika, are forcefully rejected by the people of those countries who for decades have been inured to the social and economic comforts and benefits engendered by the reckless spending of their governments, and are refusing to accept any cuts to these benefits even when some are aware that the latter can no longer be provided since the governments’ coffers are empty and the convenience of funding these benefits by borrowing, as they have done in the past, is no longer available due to their nation’s sovereign debt. Moreover, these austerity measures initially had not being complemented with policies of economic development and thus led to the worsening of the economic conditions of those countries that adopted them, such as Greece, leading to unprecedented massive unemployment by the closure of large and small business enterprises and to the smashing of the middle class which is the cornerstone of free societies.

This situation is dangerously engendering the fragmentation of social cohesion in those countries and giving rise to political parties of the extreme right and left, coming out of the foam of waves of violent demonstrations that imminently threaten democracy. A latest illustration of this danger are the attacks by petrol bombs and other incendiary devices by hooded youths of anarchists and extreme leftists in Greece against the homes of outspoken journalists, offices of the governing coalition of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, and the burning of Bank’s ATMs. And of particular significance are the attacks on journalists, which are a blatant violation of free speech and a sinister attempt to intimidate them from expressing their opinion about events and criticizing politicians of Syriza, the official opposition, of whom obviously the fire carrying mobs are its ardent supporters.

This will be the tragic legacy of European big government and its ill-considered, indeed, destructive intervention in the processes of the free market that for at least two centuries have delivered prosperity and an unprecedented increase in the standard of living of the masses; as the socialist politicians from Francois Mitterand to Jaques Delors–the architects and enforcers of the European Monetary Union that forced Germany to succumb and pay the price of the unity of west and east Germany as demanded by France–and their present disciples of  etatisme are in the process of killing the goose that laid the golden egg, i.e., the unimpeded free market, and by doing so unconsciously and unwillingly are generating and  unleashing the brutal forces of fascism and leftist directorates of totalitarianism on the landscape of Europe.

To avoid this slide to the hell of totalitarianism only the rise of statesmen who “can act beneath heaven as if they were placed above it” is consummated. The fiscal and balance of payments crisis can only be remedied by substantial cuts in government spending and the euthanasia of big government, and by the privatization of debt ridden public enterprises–that are the last strongholds of obtuse and doctrinaire unions– and by the freeing of private enterprise to pursue profit by competition and entrepreneurial creativity and dynamism, respectively. These ‘bitter’ remedies can only be administered by statesmen of the calibre of Lee Kuan Yew and Antonis Samaras. The latter, indeed, might not only be the progenitor of the Greek Renaissance but also the paradigmatic leader of other European politicians to imitate for their own European Renaissance. The Newtonian apple that will stop the European ‘discord’ that currently threatens the demise of the EU will fall to the gravitational force of such statesmanship.

Hic Rhodus hic salta

Zeroing in on the Enemy Within

By Con George-Kotzabasis

I’m republishing this article written on July 2005 and published originally on my blog Nemesis as a result of a report of the Australian today that all five of the arrested would-be terrorists were regular prayers at the Preston Mosque in Melbourne where the Mufti of Australasia Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam presides. Also as a result  of the violent Islamist demonstration in Sydney  on the pretext  that a video made in the USA by a Coptic Christian insulted  their prophet Mohammed. In this demonstration Muslim children between the ages of four and eight  were carrying placards that demanded the beheading of infidels.

It’s about time that Australia lost its innocence, so it will not fall a victim to the cunning, deceitful, and sinister foe of Muslim fanatics who are in our midst. As I’ve been writing since September 11, a terrorist attack by the enemy within the metropolises of Western civilization was always on the cards, as the bombings in Madrid and London have exemplified. Insightful and responsible governments must no longer shilly-shally about what is to be done, against this imminent internal threat of holocaustian dimensions that is embedded in the West.

The Government must immediately pass emergency legislation (even retrospective legislation) that would enable it, either to deport or jail fundamentalist imams, and all their suspect fanatical recruits. One must have no illusions. All bearded Muslims are potential terrorists. It’s the “emblem” by which they proudly display and flaunt their belief in fundamentalist Islam– such as Sheik Mohammed Omran from the Brunswick mosque who propagates openly or by stealthy means the ideology of fanaticism among his ten thousands followers, and praises the acts of terror as being fully justified against the infidels of the West and their governments that are fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, to prevent, and nip in the bud, any possible backlash that could arise among Muslim communities in support of these imams, such legislation should encompass that anyone who supports these imams, would also be liable for deportation.

Furthermore, this emergency legislation should eschew the intricacies and procrastinations that are involved in legal due process, so it could deport these imams and their recruits post haste. Additionally, the Government should immediately cease all funding to Muslim schools, unless the latter introduced in their curricula a no-leaks-assimilation to the mainstream culture of Australia, where the families of the children who attend these schools have freely chosen to settle in. Under no circumstances should these schools and mosques continue to nourish themselves on the teat of government largesse in the name of multiculturalism. The majority of Muslims do not believe in multiculturalism, as they are inveterate monoculturalists believing that their culture is superior to any other culture, and they sneeringly laugh behind the back of multiculturalism while they use the latter for their own sinister purposes. It’s timely that the Government put an end to this joke that is played upon Australians, by abandoning the disastrous policy of multiculturalism, to paraphrase John Stone. Even the most fervent supporters of multiculturalism in Europe, especially in the Netherlands after the murder of the film-maker van Gogh by a Muslim fanatic, are presently considering its abandonment.

Australia presently, is involved with its allies in a total war against global terror. Total war by definition is an unconditional, no holds barred war not only against a mortal enemy, but also against all the allies and supporters of the latter, such as the regime of Saddam Hussein was. Nations which profess to be involved in a total war, such as the U.S.A and its allies claim to be against global terror, cannot avoid from exercising the imperative and remorseless demands of such a war against their enemies. No nation can claim that it’s fighting a total war against an enemy whilst leaving a lethal fifth column among its midst. And no nation can claim that -by an even astronomical increase in the resources of security against terror – it can effectively protect its citizens from a terrorist attack, without at the same time destroying and uprooting the source of terror, the madrassas – wherever they happen to be in the East or in the West – which breed these fanatic recruits of terror.

As I’ve written in my book titled, “Unveiling the War against Terror: Fight Right War or Lose the Right to Exist”, the times are not for irresolute and Hamletinesque leaderships. Historians will aver that George Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard, by their limpid awareness of what is at stake in this war against global terror, and by taking the firm and remorseless measures against this mortal foe, have entered the club of statesmen. In this historic clash between Western civilization and the terrorist barbarians, this triumvirate of statesmanship must now deal ruthlessly and remorselessly, by taking and exercising ‘the stern laws of necessity’, to quote the great historian Edward Gibbon, against the enemy, that lurks like a poisonous snake, within the gates of civilization.

CARPE DIEM QUAM MINIMUM CREDULA POSTERO

In Dangerous Situations Politicians Must be Like Chameleons

By Con George-Kotzabasis

In crisis conditions with ever diminishing political and economic options, no politician worth his salt would lock himself in a position that would deprive him of the resiliency and elbow room to move from an untenable situation. For this reason, it is a gross political error on the part of Mr Kouvelis, the leader of the Democratic Left in Greece, to reject in advance any new form of a “labour reserve” formulated by the Finance Ministry, on the basis that the previous one, as articulated by the Pasok government, failed abjectly. More importantly when no other options are available to reach the “magic” number of 11.5 billion which is the sine qua non for re-negotiating the Memorandum that is so critical for the survival of Greece.

In dangerous situations for their countries, politicians must be like “chameleons” that must not lose their ability to change colour if they are to survive. For the sake of Greece Mr Kouvelis must also not lose the ability to change colour.

Reply to American Isolationist

I’m republishing the following that was written early in 2008 for the readers of this blog.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

It’s in the nature of power politics from the Roman republican times of Scipio Africanus (Carthage must be destroyed) to our own, that no superpower can metastasize itself into isolationism, as your “minding our own business” implies. A benign superpower such as America by its ineluctable engagement with the world is the axis of global order.

Also, one must not forget that bin Laden is a symbol of a fanatic mass movement with multiple heads whose goal is to destroy the West and its incarnation, “evil America”. You cannot defeat such an enemy by merely “catching” or killing its symbol, bin Laden. You can only defeat him in the field of battle. Islamist terrorism is a mundanely “anarchic” movement with no centre of command. For all its true believers the centre of command is heavenly, since all of them ineradicably believe that they are the instruments of, and take their orders from, Allah.

The only way to defeat decisively such foes is to make them fail in the field of their operations , as presently seems to be happening with al Qaeda in Iraq with the new strategy of the surge which is crippling its suicidal jihadists. It’s at this point that they might start having doubts about being instruments of God and abandon their cause. This is why the outcome of the war in Iraq is of paramount importance to the war against global terror and to the security of the West.

Your opinion on this issue…

Gareth Evans Doctrine of Bonhomie in International Relations

By Con George-Kotzabasis—January 24, 2012

Gareth Evans the former minister of Foreign Affairs and presently Chancellor of the National University in Canberra, in an article published in The Australian, on December 26, 2011,under the title Peaceful Way in a World of Grey, argues that a confrontational approach is rarely the best means of tackling serious issues. He contends “that Manichaean good vs evil typecasting, to which George W. Bush and Tony Blair were famously prone…carries two big risks for international policymakers.” The first risk is that such thinking restricts the options of dealing optimally “with those who are cast as irredeemably evil,” and the second is by seen the world in “black-and-white terms” engenders “greater public cynicism, thereby making ideals-based policymaking even harder.” To strengthen these two points he uses the “debacle,” according to him, “of the US-led invasion of Iraq…should have taught us the peril of talking only through the barrel of a gun to those whose behaviour disgusts us” (M.E.), while conceding that “sometimes threats to civilian population will be so acute as to make coercive military intervention the only option, ( M.E.) as with Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya.” Conversely, as a non-confrontational smart benign diplomacy he uses his own negotiations “with the genocidal butchers of the Khmer Rouse,” that were “acutely troubling, personally and politically, for those of us involved,” but which “secured a lasting peace in Cambodia.” He caps his argument by saying that one must see the world beyond the “two dimensions, economic and geostrategic,” and add a third: “every country’s interest in being, and being seen to be, a good international citizen.” (M.E.)

This is not Fukyama’s The End of History but the re-writing of history, and distorting it to boot, on a grand scale. Evans by a divinely made eraser rubs out all evil from the pages of history. But let us respond to his points in sequence. It is obviously true that for a policymaker to see the world in black-and-white terms would be utterly wrong. But likewise, to see the world solely in grey colours without the colour of blackness casting its evil shadow in most human affairs is to paint the world in the colours of wishful thinking. The task of statesmanship is to see the world not with the eyes of the ‘good citizen’ but with the piercing eyes of the political scientist who perceives the nucleus of evil that potentially exists in all human action motivated by ideology or extra mundane religious beliefs. It is to identify and separate the irreconcilable from the inconsolable enemy and act commensurably to the dangers issuing from these two substantially different foes.

The attacks on 9/11 were not the attacks of “good international citizens” but of evil ones driven by eschatological divinely directed goals. Bush and Blair promptly and insightfully recognized that they were facing a deadly irreconcilable enemy that could not be mollified by any ‘benevolent’ actions they could take toward him—they were already depicted by this foe as “Great Satans”—but had to be completely defeated in the battlefield. Further, astute strategy would not allow such an irreconcilable foe to become stronger but to defeat him while he was still weak and hence at less expense in human loses and materiel. The invasion of Iraq had this aim, to prevent the nexus of fanatic terrorists with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear ones supplied deliberately or inadvertently by rogue states rigidly belligerent against America and generally the West. In the aftermath of 9/11 no statesman could underestimate the possibility of such a great threat consummated by nuclear weapons that would annihilate their people. As the success of one such attack against a western metropolis would be the ultimate incentive for Alahu Akbar terrorists to become serial users of WMD and nuclear ones against the West and its Great Satan America. And this can be illustrated comparatively and plainly by the success of the first car bomb that brought in its wake a succession of innumerable car bombs used by the terrorists against their enemies.

Indubitably, the invasion of Iraq would have been a “debacle,” due to serious tactical errors American strategists committed during the initial stages of the occupation, such as the disbanding of the Iraqi army that fuelled the yet to come insurgency, if it was not for the Surge that under the savvy new strategy implemented by General Petraeus, had not turned a potential defeat into real victory. A victory, moreover, that planted the seeds of democracy in Iraq and by establishing a nascent democratic state there soon became the catalyst that disseminated the ethos of freedom and democracy among the masses in the region and the great potential this entails for all the countries in captivity to brutal and authoritarian regimes. And one must bear in mind that the Arab Spring is the legitimate offspring of the American gate crashing of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and the transplanting of democracy in Iraq made in the U.S. However, one must not be unaware of the great dangers that could lie in wait in this transformation of democracy among those countries whose peoples in considerable numbers are imbued with the religious fervour of Islam, that Islamists, like Hamas in Gaza, could attain political power through the ballot box. And developments in Egypt after the fall of President Mubarak with the Muslim Brotherhood and extreme Salafists gaining a majority of seats in Parliament at last week’s election, are not encouraging for those sections of Egyptian society that believe in individual freedom and democracy.

There is, moreover, a fundamental inconsistency in Gareth Evans’s argument when he supports military intervention in the case when civilians are killed or threatened to be killed by an authoritarian regime, like Muammar Gaddafi’s, but not when civilians are killed and are threatened to be killed in their hundreds of thousands in the future by fanatic Islamists as it happened in New York and Washington. Lastly, his mentioning of Cambodia and the negotiations with the Khmer Rouse, in which he was directly involved, that brought a “secured a lasting peace” with the backing of “good old-fashioned containment and deterrence,” as a triumph of reason over bellicosity, he overlooks the fact that the Pol Pot regime by the time of the negotiations was already removed from power as a result of being defeated by Vietnam militarily in 1979, and existing as a weak resistance movement in West Cambodia.

It is by such a collage of diplomatic misapprehensions and awkward inconsistencies that the former minister of foreign affairs attempts to breathe life into his narrative of “a good international citizen” and the “cause of human decency” and insert it into the maelstrom of human conflicts often ensuing from Caesaro-Papist sinister ideologies. The doctrine of bonhomie in international relations can only be indulged over a café latte.

I rest on my oars: your turn now…

Professor Varoufakis Congratulates New Finance Minister of Greece for Digging his Own Grave

By Con George-Kotzabasis June 28, 2012

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”  Winston Churchill

Professor Varoufakis the above quote illustrates the substantial personal difference between you and Yannis Stournaras, the newly appointed Minister of Finance, on the issue whether Greece has better than a chance under this new government to pull itself, by creative technocratic and Gulliverian efforts, out of the crisis. It saddens me to see you with your Kazantzakian character to distort the truth about the Samaras government that somehow is a continuation of the “ancien regime” when in truth the majority of its members, both from the political and technocratic stables are new and were chosen on meritocratic grounds for their intellectual and technocratic ‘sprints’ and were never associated  even in the loosest terms with the major economic policies of either Pasok or New Democracy that had brought Greece to the “edge of the abyss.” To say further that Stournaras should not expect any support from this purportedly coterie of the ancien regime and he was chosen only for the purpose of carrying the major burden of a more than probable failure and to become the scapegoat for it is a most ungracious, and , indeed, malicious statement that could ever come out from the illustrious portals of Academe.

It seems to me that your absolute pessimistic views about events in Europe and Greece cancel you from the vocation of a reformist actively and optimistically engaged in the transformation of a bad situation. It is optimists that win wars and not pessimists! Also it appears to me, that your ‘undying’ wish for the disintegration of the Eurozone is directly related to your Modest Proposal so in the event of Europe’s collapse you can say that it happened because the European elites refused to adopt your all perfect remedy. Thus your disparagement of all politicians and technocrats both inside Greece and in Europe such as Papademos, Samaras, Mario Monti, Mario Draghi, and Jean-Claude Trichet, to mention few. In your planetary immodesty   to consider yourself the Sun and all the others as satellites that must reflect the wisdom of your Modest Proposal, is haughtiness of the highest degree. And it is not uncommon, that arrogance emanating from an “aggressively” Narcissistic nature defeats even the strongest of characters. Alas, do you think that at the end you will avoid the fate of Narcissus? Lastly, in your Open Letter to your “friend and colleague” Yannis Stournaras, you congratulate him for his appointment to the Ministry of Finance. My question is why congratulating someone who, according to you, by accepting the appointment he will be digging his own grave?