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Germany Considering Use of Force in Greece (Surprise, Surprise)

COMMENT: It strikes us as less than remarkable that the German policy elite are now openly debating the use of military force to “prevent” the reversion of that country to dictatorship!

The vitally important german-foreign-policy.com informs us that the military intervention scenario is being debated by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s most prestigious daily newspaper, and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a “leftist” veteran of the European New Left of the 1960’s.

We are now in a position to view what the elder George Bush might refer to as “a kinder, gentler” Reich–one imposed in order to “prevent” dictatorship and chaos, following the economic imposition of measures insuring that chaos will inevitably occur.

The calls for military intervention will come from mainstream, even liberal, institutions and so-called “progressives.”

Greeks protesting the EMU

Grotesquely ironic, this debate follows on:

“On the Relevance of Democracy”; german-foreign-policy.com; 5/21/2012.

EXCERPT: . . . The sectors of the German elite, which refuse to consider this change of course proposed by Krugman and numerous other experts outside Germany,[7] are now publicly debating scenarios involving the use of force. In a newspaper interview early this month, the director of the prominent Hamburg Institute of International Economics, Thomas Straubhaar, called for establishing a protectorate in Greece – “regardless of the outcome of the elections.” The country is a “failed state,” he says, which is unable to raise itself “to a new start” under “its own steam.”[8] Athens needs “help in establishing viable state structures.” It, therefore, must be transformed into “a European protectorate.” “The EU must do it,” affirms Straubhaar. The EU “would have to help Greece modernize its institutions at every level, particularly with administrative staff, tax experts, and tax inspectors.” However, refounding Greece would demand “intuition” to “overcome national pride, conceit, and the resistance of interest groups.” This is referring to a sovereign democracy, a German ally in the EU and NATO.

Putsch

In the meantime, there is even discussion of a putsch in Athens. Greece threatens to sink into complete chaos, warned a long time companion of Germany’s former Foreign Minister, Joseph Fischer, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a European parliamentarian for the French Green Party. Cohn-Bendit explained that it is impossible to avoid extensive foreign interference. “If you leave the Greeks to muddle through alone, you are risking a military putsch.”[9] German commentators are drawing comparisons to the situation in the later stages of Germany’s Weimar Republic. “In the Greek situation, the worst case would be a reversion to a dictatorship,” warned an influential commentator. “This scenario becomes more probable as instability grows.” In reference to the links between a possible dictatorship and Berlin’s austerity dictate, the commentator writes, “already today, it seems as though Merkel’s austerity policy can, at best, be imposed on the streets of Athens by force of arms.”[10]

Protection Forces

Last week, a leading German daily discussed the issue of dispatching troops to Greece. Should the country go bankrupt, it would then, as a “‘failing state,’ (…) be less in a position” to shore up its borders against migrants, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Just recently, the EU Commission announced that it finds itself forced to prolong the mission of its EU border troops at the Greek/Turkish borders. If Athens “should no longer be able to pay its officials, or can pay only in Drachmas,” the situation risks “chaotic.”[11] The country could possibly “be rocked by rebellions.” “Help for Greece would then no longer be on credit, but be transformed into a sort of humanitarian emergency aid,” prophesied the journal in its front-page lead editorial. “Hopefully, an international protection force, such as is stationed in the teetering countries further to the north, will not become an option.”[12]

Discussion

9 comments for “Germany Considering Use of Force in Greece (Surprise, Surprise)”

  1. Germany will undoubtedly ‘invade’ and or take control of various european states. But I suspect not openly as the Bundeswehr; they will do it as a blue-uniformed ‘Euro Task Force’.

    Uber Alles.

    Posted by GW | May 28, 2012, 6:59 am
  2. I am reminded of the song “Living In The Past” …

    Once I used to join in
    every boy and girl was my friend.

    Now there’s revolution,
    but they don’t know what they’re fighting.

    Let us close out eyes;
    outside their lives go on much faster.

    Oh, we won’t give in,
    we’ll keep living in the past.

    It’s not Germany, it’s the right wing, and it’s not even the right wing … the only way it can survive is by being invisible.

    Posted by brux | May 29, 2012, 9:01 pm
  3. Great…so now it sounds like the Greek bailout, itself, is being managed by the ‘troika’ in such a way that it almost doesn’t matter how bad Greece’s economy gets it can’t default. And why is that? Because the troika is only lending Greece enough money to pay interest on it’s debts. THAT’S the bailout and even funds intended to keep the government running are being withheld. Why? Because helping more would remove the necessary pressure for tax-collection reforms.on the nation. So the econonmy is being intentionally gutted pressured in order to achieve the goal of raising more taxes. In other words, the troika is using a technique that destroys Greece’s economy (to raise taxes!?) because that technique prevents a technical Greek dafault. In other other words, the EU had better start preparing those ‘peace keeping’ forces because it sounds like no matter how bad it gets this roller coaster ride is going to go on for a long time:

    NY Times
    Most Aid to Athens Circles Back to Europe
    By LIZ ALDERMAN and JACK EWING
    Published: May 29, 2012

    PARIS – Its membership in the euro currency union hanging in the balance, Greece continues to receive billions of euros in emergency assistance from a so-called troika of lenders overseeing its bailout.

    But almost none of the money is going to the Greek government to pay for vital public services. Instead, it is flowing directly back into the troika’s pockets.

    The European bailout of 130 billion euros ($163.4 billion) that was supposed to buy time for Greece is mainly servicing only the interest on the country’s debt – while the Greek economy continues to struggle.

    If that seems to make little sense economically, it has a certain logic in the politics of euro-finance. After all, the money dispensed by the troika – the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission – comes from European taxpayers, many of whom are increasingly wary of the political disarray that has afflicted Athens and clouded the future of the euro zone.

    As they pay themselves, though, the troika members are also withholding other funds intended to keep the Greek government in operation.

    Last week, the Athens office that tracks revenue said Greece could run out of money by July. If so, Greece could default on its debts – except those due to the central bank, the monetary fund and the European Union.

    “Greece will not default on the troika because the troika is paying themselves,” said Thomas Mayer, a senior adviser at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

    In an elaborate payment system that began after the May 6 election that brought down the Greek government and is meant to ensure that the Greeks do not touch the cash, the big three creditors are now wiring bailout payments to an escrow account in Greece. There the money sits for two or three days – before much of it is sent back to the troika as interest payments on the Greek bonds that Europe accepted under terms of the bailout deal struck in February.

    Some people close to the situation say the troika is also trying to put financial pressure on Greece to do what it can to collect tax revenue from an increasingly devastated economy.

    The managing director of the I.M.F., Christine Lagarde, prompted a furor in Greece over the weekend when she chastised Greeks for not paying taxes, in an interview with The Guardian.

    A Greek government adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear of alienating the European lenders, said of the troika: “They made sure that the sum for domestic spending is kept small enough to force Greece to dramatically raise its own revenues.”

    On its face, the situation seems absurd. The European authorities are effectively lending Greece money so Greece can repay the money it borrowed from them.

    “You send the money, you call it a ‘loan’ – you get it back and call it an ‘interest rate,’ ” said Stephane Deo, global head of asset allocation in London for UBS. Mr. Deo said such arrangements were common in situations where governments were in danger of defaulting on their debts.

    Only a third has been earmarked to finance government operations, with only a tiny sliver spent on stimulus projects for the anemic economy.

    The European Central Bank became one of Greece’s biggest creditors after it started buying debt from troubled euro zone countries in 2010 to help stabilize prices. The bank does not disclose how much Greek debt it bought, but estimates are from $44 billion to $69 billion.

    Greek bonds are a profitable investment for the bank as long as Greece continues to make interest payments. The bank exempted itself from the debt restructuring deal. And Greek bonds were already trading at a big discount when the central bank started buying them. As a result, the bank is earning an effective interest rate of 10 percent or so, Mr. Deo estimated.

    However harsh the payback terms might seem, the European authorities have a strong interest in avoiding the even higher costs that would result if Greece left the euro zone or defaulted completely on its debt.

    As early as next year, according to optimistic estimates, Greece could reach the point where tax receipts exceed government operating expenses.

    So the optimists think this ride might be done in a year? Well, at least this all sounds like its highly profitable for the troika. They might need the cash.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 29, 2012, 9:26 pm
  4. Since the world is offering Greece advice, here’s some more:
    Ignore the first guy:

    Michael Casey’s FX Horizons
    May 30, 2012, 10:41 a.m. EDT
    Argentines offer Greeks tough advice on crisis
    Commentary: Leaders must look beyond short-term politics

    By Michael Casey

    NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – With a Greek exit from the euro zone now widely seen as a foregone conclusion, it is worth reflecting on the following:

    I asked the two Argentine policy makers most directly involved in trying to save Argentina from that outcome to reflect on those moments and offer advice to the Greeks. Strikingly, their prescriptions differed, which seemed to correspond with the extent to which each was politically invested in protecting the convertibility plan 10 years ago.

    “To me it is a barbarity that many are recommending a euro exit,” said Domingo Cavallo, who was the economy minister until President Fernando de la Rua’s downfall on Dec. 21, 2001. “The more they recommend it, the more it will aggravate Greece’s crisis.” Greece, he said, should hang on to the euro because leaving it will only invite hyperinflation and turn the country into the “pariah of Europe,” much as Argentina was turned into an international rogue by its actions.

    Cavallo was known as the father of the convertibility plan, having introduced the dollar peg during his first ministerial stint in 1991, which immediately ended a hyperinflation nightmare. Ten years later, De la Rua brought him back to try to save the system. His entire reputation was invested in doing so. Now teaching at Yale, he has continued to reject the conventional wisdom that the peg had to go. In his mind, its end reflected “a failure of leadership.”

    But how should the government have contended with society’s fierce resistance to austerity, I asked. Cavallo’s response: “That’s what it means to govern. You must make tough decisions.” Similarly, he said, the IMF and Argentina’s creditors lacked leadership in not recognizing the international ramifications of their actions. By pulling the plug on Argentina, Cavallo said, they fanned the flames of anti-market, anti-U.S. sentiment across Latin America, which brought Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela and led to the failure of the Washington-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas. It should be a warning to Germany, he said.

    The approach of Daniel Marx, who was finance secretary under Cavallo until he abruptly resigned on Dec. 15, 2001, is a different one. He said the most important steps were to “build political consensus” within Greek society and establish policies that “distribute losses fairly” and protect “the social fabric,” including a devaluation if need be.

    Yes Greece, you really want to avoid going down that path. It ain’t pretty:

    NY Times
    Paul Krugman
    May 3, 2012, 12:09 pm
    Down Argentina Way

    Matt Yglesias, who just spent time in Argentina, writes about the lessons of that country’s recovery following its exit from the one-peso-one-dollar “convertibility law”. As he says, it’s a remarkable success story, one that arguably holds lessons for the euro zone.

    I’d just add something else: press coverage of Argentina is another one of those examples of how conventional wisdom can apparently make it impossible to get basic facts right. We keep getting stories about Ireland’s recovery when there is, in fact, no recovery – but there should be, darn it, because they’ve done the “right” thing, so that’s what we’ll report.

    Yep, if Greece goes down that path it’ll get downright ugly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2012, 12:07 pm
  5. Given all the fun changes we’ve seen in the eurozone and EU just in the last couple of years, you have to wonder what an EU that’s “a real actor on the global scene” is going to look like:

    EU heavyweights call for radical foreign and defence policy overhaul

    Five of six biggest EU countries back plans which include pan-European foreign ministry and majority voting to bypass UK veto

    Ian Traynor in Brussels
    guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 September 2012 12.09 EDT

    Five of the six biggest countries in the EU, excluding Britain, have called for a radical overhaul of European foreign and defence policies to create a powerful new pan-European foreign ministry, majority voting on common foreign policies to bypass a British veto, a possible European army, and a single market for EU defence industries.

    The German-led push, supported by 11 of 27 EU countries, embraces recent calls in Berlin and Brussels for a directly elected European president, sweeping new powers for the European parliament, and further splitting of the EU by creating a new parliamentary sub-chamber for the 17 countries of the eurozone.

    While the call for a European army was not supported by all 11, the document also calls for a new European police organisation to guard the union’s external borders and for a single European visa.

    Nine months of brainstorming over the future of Europe by the foreign ministers of the 11 countries, launched by Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, has resulted in a 12-page document crammed with policy recommendations. It will prove hugely contentious and, if implemented, will increase the pressure on Britain to quit the EU.

    “To make the EU into a real actor on the global scene we believe that we should in the long term introduce more majority decisions in the common foreign and security policy sphere, or at least prevent one single member state from being able to obstruct initiatives,” the document said.

    “Aim for a European defence policy with joint efforts regarding the defence industry (eg the creation of a single market for armament projects); for some members of the group this could eventually involve a European army.”

    The backers include Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, five of the six biggest EU countries omitting Britain. The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Portugal and Luxembourg also signed up.

    The recommendations include more incendiary steps, including a proposal to re-open and change European treaties by majority voting because getting consensus in a union of 27 or 28 has become too slow, acrimonious and unwieldy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2012, 11:06 am
  6. Had a little trouble finding the right category for this, but it’s important.

    From NPR

    http://www.npr.org/2013/02/25/172858159/germany-called-on-to-evolve-its-gobal-military-role

    Germany Evaluates Its Global Military Role
    by Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
    February 25, 2013

    (Excerpts, full text at link)

    “For decades after the devastation of World War Two, Germany recoiled from any prospect of military engagement. Now the country is under pressure to get involved in foreign military conflicts as the U.S. cuts back its role as the world’s policeman. Germany’s growing military role is now being debated in government and academic circles.
    (snip)
    SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere wants his countrymen to talk about the evolving role of the German military. The minister tells NPR that in Europe, Germany is second only to Britain in troop deployments, but that few here like to think about that.
    THOMAS DE MAIZIERE: (Through translator) In Germany, the military’s operational concept was not to go on missions. Things have changed since reunification, but many Germans like to live in the past and haven’t internalized their country’s importance.
    (snip)
    NELSON: He and other German analysts say that the government is under growing international pressure to get involved militarily in foreign conflicts, especially as America cuts back on its role as the world’s policeman. They say being a political powerhouse in the European Union and serving as paymaster in the euro-crisis is no longer enough.
    (snip)
    Some here accuse Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government of selling arms rather than sending in German troops to address security concerns. A December cover story in Der Spiegel magazine outlined a Merkel doctrine, in which key countries in unstable areas were being sold high-tech German weapons so they could maintain security on their own.
    That worries Edelgard Bulmahn, an opposition lawmaker with the Social Democrats, who serves on the Bundestag foreign affairs committee.
    EDELGARD BULMAHN: We always realized that military approach doesn’t really solve the conflict. But nevertheless, arms exports can’t be a substitute for a role of our country.
    (snip)
    NELSON: Bulmahn and other lawmakers took part in a contentious Bundestag debate in late January about the lack of transparency in arms exports. Germany is the third biggest exporter of arms worldwide, although it trails far behind the U.S. and Russia.
    Olaf Simonsen, a retired vice president of the German Office of Economics and Exports, says secret deals are only part of the problem. He charges that changes to European trade laws are giving the German government greater freedom to sell arms to more Third World countries, even if it doesn’t have a license for those countries.
    OLAF SIMONSEN: For example, if France has no problems to deliver items to a former colony in Africa, it’s now allowed for the German exporter to transfer an item from Germany to France. And then France can export transfer the final product to this country.”

    More at Link

    Posted by Swamp | February 26, 2013, 9:00 am
  7. @SWAMP–Quite predictable, unfortunately.

    The fallacious presumption is that Germany has changed.

    Wrong!

    Aside from the fact that the German army was re-staffed with Nazis after WWII, there is every reason to suppose that the institutional inertia in the Bundeswehr has continued.

    In FTR #595, we noted that contemporary Bundeswehr recruits are being trained with live-fire practice on simulated African-Americans!!

    In FTR #50, we noted that the head of the Bundeswehr–Klaus Naumann–told his officers that the task facing Germany was to roll back “the values of 1945” i.e. denazification.

    He also said that it was also their duty to roll back the values of “liberte, equalite et fraternite”–the values of the French revolution and the enlightenment!

    In FTR #86, we noted that convicted neo-Nazi terror bomber Manfred Roeder was selected to lecture at the German military academy! The Bundeswehr also donated surplus vehicles to Roeder’s organization!

    Stay tuned!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 26, 2013, 5:04 pm
  8. Agreed.
    Submitted “For the record”, so to speak…

    From the above report:

    ” ..but many Ger­mans like to live in the past and haven’t inter­nal­ized their country’s impor­tance.”

    And the aggression begins here:

    “NELSON: He and other Ger­man ana­lysts say that the gov­ern­ment is under grow­ing inter­na­tional pres­sure to get involved mil­i­tar­ily in for­eign con­flicts, espe­cially as Amer­ica cuts back on its role as the world’s police­man. They say being a polit­i­cal pow­er­house in the Euro­pean Union and serv­ing as pay­mas­ter in the euro-crisis is no longer enough.”

    Posted by Swamp | February 26, 2013, 6:55 pm
  9. @SWAMP–BTW, German defense minister Thomas de Maiziere is the son of Ulrich de Maiziere, a former Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and WWII general under Hitler.

    The elder de Maiziere was an aide to General Adolf Heusinger, who planned every Nazi military campaign after 1940, including Operation Barbarossa, the genocidal invasion of the Soviet Union.

    Heusinger was the first Inspector General of the “new” Bundeswehr.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 27, 2013, 12:25 pm

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