Is SyrizAnel turning Greece into a Failed State?

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There is a sense that the situation in Greece is deteriorating rapidly, not only in an economic, but also in every other sense. The combined pressures of the migrant/refugee crisis, economic stagnation, diplomatic torpor and internal strife created and promoted by the government of Tsipras/Kammenos are leading things to the edge. In the summer of 2015 European officials voiced concern that Grexit could lead Greece to degenerate to a failed state. People are beginning to question whether Greece is heading there anyway, Grexit or no Grexit. The following discusses the proposition that Syriza and their far-right partners are turning the country into a failed state. Is this outlandish? Judge for yourselves.

Three elements can be said to characterize the phenomenon of the “failed State” from the political and legal point of view.

Firstly, there is the geographical and territorial aspect, namely the fact that “failed States” are essentially associated with internal and endogenous problems, even though these may incidentally have cross-border impacts. The situation confronting us then is one of an implosion rather than an explosion of the structures of power and authority, the disintegration and de-structuring of States rather than their dismemberment.

Secondly, there is the political aspect, namely the internal collapse of law and order. The emphasis here is on the total or near total breakdown of structures guaranteeing law and order rather than the kind of fragmentation of State authority seen in civil wars, where clearly identified military or paramilitary rebels fight either to strengthen their own position within the State or to break away from it.

Thirdly, there is the functional aspect, namely the absence of bodies capable, on the one hand, of representing the State at the international level and, on the other, of being influenced by the outside world. Either no institution exists which has the authority to negotiate, represent and enforce or, if one does, it is wholly unreliable, typically acting as “statesman by day and bandit by night”.

From a legal point of view, it could be said that the “failed State” is one which, though retaining legal capacity, has for all practical purposes lost the ability to exercise it. A key element in this respect is the fact that there is no body which can commit the State in an effective and legally binding way, for example, by concluding an agreement.

Let us test the above elements against the situation in Greece at the moment.

Does Greece retain sovereignty over its territory? Greece spends more than 2% of its GDP on military expenditure, yet it is unable to patrol the Aegean, in the short-distance crossings between Turkey and the Greek islands that migrants use to come over. NATO and EU’s Frontex is now tasked with securing the sea border. It is unable to patrol its land borders to prevent people smugglers operating, and is absent from the northern border with Macedonia (Idomeni) where there are now daily clashes between stranded people and the Macedonian forces. Yesterday Macedonian police is alleged to have crossed the border and fired upon migrants on the Greek side, sending rubber bullets and tear-gas into the Idomeni camp, which is well within Greek territory.

Is there a collapse of internal law and order? With courts frequently closed due to strikes by judicial staff and/or lawyers there is a significant problem with the administration of justice. Roads are frequently blocked, first by striking farmers, then by migrants. There are violent scenes between police and residents, migrants and police, rival political factions. There is a sense of lawlessness and desperation, especially in areas where welcome centres for refugees are being built.

Finally, is the state adequately represented? Can it conclude and enforce agreements? This is perhaps the area of greatest weakness. If anything Greece in the crisis years has proved an intransigent partner to its creditors. It is even more so now. Mr Tsipras and Mr Kammenos have betrayed every single electoral promise they ever made to the Greek people. They are no better with their promises to foreigners. They are insincere in their dealings with the country’s partners and creditors, discussing on the one hand, denouncing them as occupiers on the other. The latest farcical episode with Tsipras’ insurrection against the IMF proves beyond any reasonable doubt that there is no genuine negotiation going on. It is games, political subterfuge and personal interests.

What is the conclusion? Is Greece a failed state? Not just yet, but the continuation of the current course, and the current government is charting a path to failure. As Syriza’s own ministers proclaim: There is worse to come.

kammenos_mickey

@iGlinavos

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The politics of sadness

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What motivates policy making? Is it the practical recognition that courses of action can have beneficial outcomes? Is it an ideological commitment to a cause of action? Is it, perhaps, the desire to stay in power for power’s sake, through the use of lies, diversion and distraction?

I have often wondered in this blog what is the point of the self-proclaimed ‘first time left government’ of Greece. This was a pertinent question ever since the compromise was made in the summer of 2015 to accept the new bailout and keep the country in the Euro. It became a pressing question in the September 2015 election (which returned said government). It is an urgent, some say desperate question in the spring of 2016.

After Syriza changed course away from memorandum bashing in favour of memorandum acceptance (in practice if not in rhetoric), it ditched its ideology and long practice of ‘resistance’ in favour of a new type of pragmatism. Why would anyone consider Mr Tsipras though different from Venizelos and Samaras who espoused the same type of pragmatism? This presented a critical problem for Syriza, as the recognition that there is no alternative to Euro membership and Troika cooperation would negate their political presence.

Syriza is a party with an activist base that grew from 4% of the vote to above 35% on the assumption that they were ideologically different and did not share the same ‘pragmatism’ as the hated ‘memorandum’ & Troika-controlled governments that came after Papandreou absconded the ‘throne’ in 2010. How does one traverse the thin line between ideological difference and pragmatic acceptance of a reality defined by ‘others’?

The answer, laughable as it may be, was to accept to implement a programme (pragmatic choice) that Syriza is ideologically opposed to and continuously promises to resist, but -wait for it- be sad about it. There it is therefore, the political capital of Tsipras rests on the government being sad about what it is doing to its people, regretting the necessity of implementing horrible measures, being unhappy when signing the laws that prolong the ‘austerity’ this government was created to fight against.

There is an endless series of examples of Ministers signing austerity measures with grief. The PM announces every opportunity he gets that he is sad to do this, that he has been blackmailed by the Europeans. When faced with the question: Don’t you think Samaras and Venizelos were also blackmailed, Tsipras answers: Yes, but they thought these measures were good, they were going to help the country. We (Syriza-Anel) do not think these measures are good, we don’t think they will help, yet we do them, in sadness.

The question that immediately comes to mind to anyone not brainwashed by ‘anti-austerity’ perpetual-protest nonsense is: How could a government that thinks it is doing the wrong thing govern? How can it implement the measures it decries as wrong? How can it successfully pass evaluations by external bodies (ie Troika)?

It cannot is the short answer. This explains why Syriza-Anel are unable to govern on any level. They are paralysed between an ideological commitment to resistance and serving their client-base whose very survival depends on the continued disbursement of bailout funds. The inescapable conclusion is that this study in contradictions (too many to recount here) has failed. In failing it is dragging the country further down the hole it is in.

Does Mr Tsipras and Mr Kammenos care? Many believe they do not. They are glued to their chairs and will do and say anything to stay in power. The result is lies, diversion and distraction to maintain support while the country sinks.

Tsipras being sad about implementing ‘necessary’ measures he thinks are wrong is like a rapist regretting raping a young girl. He has to do it, as he cannot satisfy his urges otherwise, he knows it is wrong but it has to be done. He is sad about it.

Mr Tsipras and Mr Kammenos need to offer an alternative plan for Greece with honesty. If they cannot, they need to leave. As they will not leave of their own accord the Greek people need to choose others to ‘save them’ next chance they get. Everything else is a dangerous waste of time.

kolos tsipras

@iGlinavos

People animals and sex

It has been a while now that commentators have expressed concern that the wave of immigration passing through Greece will be stuck in Greece. After the cascade of border closures from Austria all the way down to Macedonia (FYROM for the nationalist readers of this blog), the inevitable has come to pass. While Syrians and a select other nationalities are allowed to pass on, everyone else (considered a migrant and not a refugee) is stuck on the Greek side of the border.

After the collected groups of people reacted to their predicament by blocking the railway line linking Greece to the Balkans, the government took action to remove them and offer some ‘progress’ on this issue.

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What did they do? They pilled everyone into buses and dropped them in Athens in one of the disused (Olympic legacy anyone?) Olympic stadiums. Here is what the international press said about this ‘solution’.

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Al Jazeera reported that hundreds of asylum seekers lined up to receive food outside a former Olympic Taekwondo centre – now a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants – while dozens of heavily armed Greek riot police watched.

You may think that these are young men, looking for work, so they can take a bit of rough sleeping? The Guardian told us the story of Amina:

is eight years old and running a fever. In her thinly padded pink anorak, hood pulled up over her curls and pallid face, she watches listlessly from the couch as her parents listen carefully to the doctor’s instructions over her medication.

In another place, in another city, at another time, perhaps, this sick child would be taken home to be tucked up in bed with hot drinks. But Amina has no home any more and tonight her bed is a grey donated blanket on the concrete floor of the tae kwon do stadium in Athens. Once this building was the pride of Greece’s 2004 Olympics; this weekend it is a squalid, cold place full of desperate people.

Yesterday (15.12.15) the people were informed that they will participate in a novel type of Immigrant Olympics and move to a different ex-Olympic venue, this time in Hellinikon (site of the old Athens Airport). Today (16.12.15) everyone was told to await evacuation and relief teams (volunteers) were told not to prepare provisions. Alas, no one had bothered to arrange transportation and those who made it to the new site found the venue closed and unavailable, as teams are trying to clean it from debris collected during the years of ‘use’ after the Olympics.

What sort of government is this you may ask, which brings hundreds of people into its capital city and leaves them stranded to fend for themselves? It is a government represented by this guy, Panos Kammenos, the Minister of Defense.

kamThe government, beyond ignoring border safety, internal security and basic human rights is actually doing something progressive. Civil partnerships for gay couples are getting debated in parliament. Well done to Syriza for bringing this to Parliament and passing the first committee hearing (You see, I am not always negative!).

The aforementioned Mr Kammenos takes a different view however. He is against it, and his MPs are voting against the proposal. Asked by a friendly (oh so friendly) journalist yesterday on national TV whether he is homo-phobic, Mr Kammenos offered this gem:

“Καλά, ο Ομπάμα μπορεί και να τους παντρεύει αν θέλει. Και στη Γερμανία έχουν αποφασίσει να κάνουν οίκο ανοχής για κτηνοβάτες, θέλει ο άλλος να πηγαίνει με σκύλο με γάτα, με καμήλα, με καμηλοπάρδαλη. Επειδή λοιπόν το κάνουν στη Γερμανία, θα θέλω εγώ να παντρεύεται ο άλλος καμήλα;”.

[my translation] “Ok, Mr Obama can marry who he wants. And in Germany they have decided to open brothels for bestiality, if one wants to sleep with dogs, cats, camels, giraffes. Because they are doing it in Germany, would I want someone to marry a camel?”

You have to appreciate the parallel. While the government of Syriza is treating refugees and immigrants like animals, a minister is teaching us about the options for animal sex in other Member States.

Splendid. Given the choice between Mr Kammenos and a camel, I know which I would choose.

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@iGlinavos

Ersatz Left and Forgotten Dreams

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What is the point of a left government without left governance?

Lets reflect for a moment what the left was about and what it was supposed to bring to Greece beyond the economic.

The left represents openness, it represents social progress, liberaltion, equality. Greece is a deeply regressive state. The church dominates education, gay rights are ignored in practice, family life is deeply patriarchal, religious and ethnic minorities are ‘tolerated’ at best.

The left of Mr Tsipras had opportunities on all these areas. We need a revision of the constitution to formally separate church and state, we need religious education (the bastion of propaganda and prejuduice) excluded from the school curriculum. We need the compassion of the left to counter nationalism and fanaticism.

Syriza in its frankenstein collaboration with far right ANEL has no interest in any of this. Syriza embraces the church, keeps education religiously defined, exempts the church from capital controls.

Syriza organises junta like feasts and national pride events wasting millions in parades and military stunts.

Syriza ignores the plight of refugees, playing along with a far-right exclusionary agenda, failing to confront the inaction and inactivity of the EU on the ONE issue it could occupy the moral high ground. Alas, it is Mrs Merkel that has become the champion of humanity in Europe.

What a betrayal of the values of the left.

Mr Tsipras is content to play Papandreou without the money, or the charisma. He is an ersatz Papandreou that replicates the worst of the ‘establishment’ practices he supposedly opposes. He gets jobs for his supporters (see FinMin cleaners being given court jobs). His ministers proclaim to work for their voters (less than 2/5 of the vote in an election where almost half the population abstained). Mr Tsipras ignores corruption and glosses over allegations touching Syriza members and government ministers, while at the same time interfering with independent authorities. Mr Tsipras is content to legislate using emergency processes, something he decried while in opposition.

And you know what the laughable thing behind all this is? The ‘Best Government of All Time’ is not even meeting the milestones of Bailout 3, which makes it very likely that no further payments will be made, re-opening the credit crunch- deflationary vortex that swallowed the country this summer.

Failure, lies, betrayal, “Defteri Fora Aristera”

λαγος

@iGlinavos

Grexit Daily News – 23 July 2015

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23 July 2015  — “I am become death the destroyer of worlds”

It has been a while since I posted an entry on GrexitDailyNews. I was waiting to see how the agreement on Bailout III will be received internally and externally.

It is safe to say there is little joy and little hope that any resolution to the Greek problem is in sight. I have addressed this in various ways in the last few days, even trying to see things slightly more optimistically (see here).

What I want to focus on today is the apocalyptic effect capital controls are having on the economy. It is needless to say how damaged the economy became since the election, due to the almost total disinterest of the government while it was valiantly negotiating win our ‘enemies’.

Capital controls are killing economic activity. In an environment where manufacturing is entirely dependant on the import of raw materials the inability to make external payments means production has stopped. Weeks after the introduction of controls there is no mechanism in place to authorise payments.

The significantly reduced cash flow and the vertical drop in consumer sentiment are chocking the life of any SME still in operation. Capital controls will stay in place for a long while, as bank balance sheets are significantly impaired. Certainly they cannot be lifted before the banking resolution legislation comes into effect in January. Does anyone seriously think that there will be any solvent businesses left if this keeps up for a few more months?

You know all this already, so why do I bother saying it again? The reason is I am angry. Angry that we keep fighting over VAT increases for the islands and tax cuts for farmers while the economy is dead. Angry that we keep listening to the ‘democratic’ rants of this fiend Kostantopoulou and the soviet nonsense of Lafazanis. Angry that we have to watch Varoufakis become the standard bearer of fantastical revolutions. Angry that we have to watch that dangerous fantasist Kammenos fly around the country spouting nonsense.

When Tsipras caused the uncontrolled bank run that necessitated capital controls by announcing the Greferendum, he became our Oppenheimer, the destroyer of our world.

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@iGlinavos