With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling snap elections in Greece, the boom has been lowered on that country’s rebellion, at least in its current form. Even before Syriza – arguably the first truly leftist government in Europe since Spain pre-WW2 – came to power in Greece in January this year, the EU central powers’ knives were out for them.
Immediately following Syriza’s victory at the polls, the Eurocrats began shutting off the cash flow from the European Central Bank to the Bank of Greece. They also began a sustained campaign of ‘capital flight’, withdrawing billions of euros from the Greek economy, thereby encouraging private investors to follow suit. They then put ‘capital controls’ in place, ostensibly to dampen the capital flight they themselves were causing, and which had the foreseeable effect of increasing Greece’s total outstanding debt by one third to an unpayable 312 billion euros. Greece’s economy has shrunk 30% since it first went into recession 8 years ago, a contraction worse – in both duration and depth – than the American Great Depression of the 1930s.
Throughout this campaign of financial terrorism, the Eurocrats stone-walled or otherwise thwarted all efforts by the Greek government to implement reforms that would relieve the Greek people and make the their economy productive again. They did this because they sought to bring the country to its knees, then institute the raft of austerity measures we’ve seen the Greek government accept now, in one fell swoop, and without resistance. For those of you familiar with Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, this is economic shock therapy 101: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change,” said monetarist schizoid-in-chief, Milton Friedman. In the process, the idea that the EU is based on social justice and solidarity has been exposed as nothing more than manipulative and cynical rhetoric. The European central powers sought to make Europe’s peripheral member-states aware of the real rules that govern the EU: ‘We rule, you comply. We pillage, you submit.’
During the crisis, the plucky Greeks brought up Nazi-era war reparations, and spoke out against anti-Russian sanctions, but at no point did they publicly mention a ‘Grexit’; rumors in that direction always came from the Eurocrats and the bankers. Like a psychopath gaslighting its prey, they painted Grexit as a nightmare scenario, and then used it – ruthlessly – as leverage with which to financially terrorize the Greek population and ‘mentally waterboard’ their leaders.
The Greek government did, however, briefly consider what to do in such a ‘worst case’ scenario, but the half-hearted nature of their plans in that direction is the clearest indicator that they were committed to remaining in the EU and the euro zone, and transforming it from within. Unsurprisingly, the impetus for this came from former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who, when asked if they had made preparations for leaving the euro, said that his government had discussed it and:
“if they dared shut our banks down, which I considered to be an aggressive move of incredible potency, we should respond aggressively but without crossing the point of no return. We should issue our own IOUs, or even at least announce that we’re going to issue our own euro-denominated liquidity; we should haircut the Greek 2012 bonds that the ECB held, or announce we were going to do it; and we should take control of the Bank of Greece. This was the triptych, the three things which I thought we should respond with if the ECB shut down our banks.”
A (super)natural conspiracy
Although the creditors and bondholders of so-called Greek ‘debt’ are protected by anonymity, lists have been leaked to German investigative journalist Harald Schumann, creator of two excellent documentaries: On the Trail of the Troika (2015), and The Secret Bank Bailout (2013). The biggest recipients of these billions read like a who’s-who of the financial world – Rothschild, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank among others. The reason these zombie banks cannot be allowed to fail is because the judicial process of discovery that would accompany such an event would reveal a network of bribery, corruption and nepotism between high finance, national banking sectors, and national government officials.
This is why, according to Varoufakis, Juncker said: “We can’t solve the systemic crisis and remain in power.” Whether you believe you’re looking at a conspiracy or ‘just the natural state of affairs’, the interests of political animals like Juncker and the financial vultures come together in tight-knit ways via networks spread out across Europe. Consider this passage from Political Ponerology:
In every society there are people whose basic intelligence, natural psychological worldview, and moral reasoning have developed improperly. Some of these persons contain the cause within themselves, others were subjected to psychologically abnormal people as children. Such individuals’ comprehension of social and moral questions is different, both from the natural and from the objective viewpoint; they constitute a destructive factor for the development of society’s psychological concepts, social structure, and internal bonds.
At the same time, such people easily interpenetrate the social structure with a ramified network of mutual pathological conspiracies poorly connected to the main social structure. These people and their networks participate in the genesis of that evil which spares no nation. This substructure gives birth to dreams of obtaining power and imposing one’s will upon society, and is quite often actually brought about in various countries, and during historical times as well.
In mathematics, ‘ramification’ is a geometric term used for ‘branching out’. It’s an apt term in this context because it captures the interconnectedness of financial speculators, Eurocrats, and clandestine military-intelligence networks without there necessarily being intentional linking-up or conscious coordination between all, or even most of them. Much like an ‘artificial neural network’ used in statistical models, we can conceive of networks of people – some explicitly bound to each other via conspiracies, others just loosely bound via mutual self-interest – that overlay and interpenetrate “the main social structure”; that is, the legitimate and productive social economy in which the masses of normal people live, work and develop normal relationships.
Varoufakis vs the Minotaur
As the arbitrary June 30th ‘bailout deadline’ approached and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stunned the technocrats by announcing a referendum on whether or not to accept their demands, they did effectively shut down Greece’s banks, but the Greek government didn’t enact Varoufakis’ triptych. If you haven’t yet read it, here is Yanis Varoufakis’ interview with the New Statesman, which took place after he resigned and before the ‘deal’ took place in Brussels on July 12th.
Asked to share his experience of taking part in European Union-level meetings, Varoufakis said that it was “worse than he imagined“, that Eurocrats, prime minsters and finance ministers have a “complete lack of any democratic scruples.” Varoufakis recounted how he would be met with blank stares when he explained the plain facts of Greece’s situation to them, “as if you haven’t spoken.” While you’d be forgiven for assuming that they did not understand what Varoufakis was saying, or that they did not want to hear what he was saying, he clarified that, occasionally, when they came out from “behind the parapet of the official line“, they “looked me in the eye and said: ‘You’re right in what you’re saying, but we’re going to crush you anyway’.”
Varoufakis at one point sought a legal opinion after the ‘Eurogroup’ chairman – Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem – broke with convention to issue a communiqué without all eurozone finance ministers being present. Varoufakis was told “the Eurogroup does not exist in law“, therefore he could have no objections to whatever its dominant members decreed. Confirming what everyone knows about the state of ‘democracy’ in the EU, but which the mainstream media has acquiesced in covering up, Varoufakis said the ‘Eurogroup’ is
“not answerable to anyone, given that it doesn’t exist in law. No minutes are kept; and it’s confidential. So no citizen ever knows what is said within. These are decisions of almost life and death, and no member has to answer to anybody.”
Dijsselbloem – pronounced ‘day-sell-bloom’, and nicknamed ‘Mr.Euro’ – is a pen-pushing poster-boy of the EU project, a thoroughbred technocrat who oversaw the fleecing of Cyprus in 2013, when its government was told: “You agree to this, or you’re out of the eurozone.” The Troika forced the Cypriots, at financial gunpoint, to transfer 6 billion euros from Cypriot depositors’ bank accounts into one of the Greek zombie banks, which was thus ‘miraculously’ resurrected overnight, going from ‘insolvent’ to ‘profitable’. Dijsselbloem warned at the time that “Cyprus would be used as the model for future bailouts.”
Other revelations from Varoufakis make it crystal clear that Germany – in the form of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble – was in charge of proceedings throughout, and that the European Union today is a thoroughly German-controlled institution. When ‘old ironsides’ Wolfgang said ‘jump’, everyone present knew the only answer was ‘how high?’
While European media have spent the last 6 months pumping out lies about Greek ‘intransigence’, ‘brinkmanship’, and ‘reluctance to negotiate’, Varoufakis reveals that what really happened is that the bankers, via the EU-ECB-IMF ‘troika’, were playing hardball from the moment Syriza was elected – stalling, blocking, or simply ignoring all proposals (most of which were patently conservative and ostensibly in line with creditors’ wishes) put forward by the Greek negotiating team.
Why would they do this if they were so concerned with recouping their money, and getting the Greek government to ‘reform’ Greek institutions?
Because the Eurocrats had zero interest in negotiations. It was THEY who were stalling for time in order to bring about precisely the scenario Greeks are faced with today: a state of economic siege, under assault from financial terrorists. Varoufakis was explicit: “We were set up.” Ok, but still, why risk regional, and potentially global, economic fallout from the shock of a ‘Grexit’? Because the Criminal Class is gunning for regime change in Greece, and the regime change they seek is not just a changing of the guard via the removal of “those two communists, Tsipras and Varoufakis“, but a literal change of regime in Greece: breaking the back of Greek popular resistance to ‘austerity measures’.
Moscow or bust?
No sooner had Syriza been elected than stories began appearing in the Western financial press about the new Greek government’s ‘alarming connections with Russia’. Their new foreign minister Nikos Kotzias had academic connections with one Aleksandr Dugin, the ideological leader of the Eurasianist Movement, a character so vilified in Western policy circles that you can feel the spray coming off the screen when reading rants about his alleged ‘neo-fascist, nationalist Bolshevik designs on destroying America and taking over the world.’
Whatever those two may have discussed prior to Syriza winning power, there’s no reason to doubt that the extent of recent Greco-Russian ‘plotting’ at government level was limited to discussion of sanctions and bilateral trade, including extension of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline into Greece. Ultimately, what Putin had to say on the matter… was all there is to say on the matter:
“Greece is a member of the EU and …conducts complicated negotiation process with its partners. Mr. [Alexis] Tsipras didn’t ask us for any help. And in general, it’s understandable because the numbers [of Greece’s debt] are high.”
There was nothing Putin could do to ‘save’ Greece. The ‘obvious’ solution touted by some commentators – leave the eurozone, switch to the drachma, seek financial aid from Russia/BRICS, then join the Eurasian Economic Union – requires long-term thinking and planning, and expertly judicious execution. And no, Greece could not have gone solo by ‘doing an Iceland’. The time to do so was in 2010, before Greece accepted ownership of the debt burden. But even then, it would have been no easy choice for Syriza’s predecessors. Greece, unlike Iceland, is fully integrated, financially, economically and militarily, within the EU and NATO. It was in no position to leave because, had it done so, Germany and every financial speculator out there would have torn the Greek economy apart piece by piece.
There have been a number of rumors flying around about Greek-Russian ‘deals’ during the crisis. Among them is the claim that the Greek government asked Moscow for $10 billion to fund a return to the drachma, a request that was supposedly only turned down on the night of the referendum. Another story has an element of the Syriza party, upon learning that Tsipras had decided to fold to Germany, briefly considering placing the governor of the Greek central bank under house arrest, emptying the central bank’s vaults, and only then appealing to Moscow for help (presumably as ‘guarantors’ of their coup).
Evidently, none of that happened. Varoufakis has since gone public with detailed contingency plans he drew up at the eleventh hour to prepare for Greece being forced out of the Eurozone – or Tsipras deciding to keep up the fight against the Troika, whichever panned out first. For this, Varoufakis has been accused of treason, a ridiculous charge on the face of it, but one that has some truth to it: the Greek state was – and still is – effectively in ‘a state of coup d’état‘, thus if its leaders were going to make any bold moves, they would have had to do as Varoufakis suggested and take such measures as hacking their own tax systems in order to take back control from the real coup plotters in Brussels and Berlin. But once Tsipras decided to fold and Varoufakis resigned, Greece’s swan song of protest had been sung.
I think the reason why Tsipras capitulated, when he appeared to have a stronger hand thanks to a successful referendum result against EU austerity, and after having already held out for six months, was because he didn’t have any other (humanitarian) option. Any rash decisions taken at that moment would only have brought a ‘color revolution’ on the heads of ordinary Greeks, and a headache for Moscow at a time when its strategy regarding US-occupied Europe – as far as it can be discerned – is to hold out for such a time when Berlin may reconsider its alignment with Washington.
A coup of sorts?
If we consider the historical pattern of reactionary forces across post-WW2 Europe that were either established by or subsumed into a NATO-CIA-MI6 military-intelligence structure, and whose common directive was to subvert trends towards left-wing government (under the pretext that such government is de facto under Moscow’s control), then we might wonder if this situation, where an actual left-wing European government made a show of developing friendly relations with Russia, presents a clear invitation to that power structure to respond covertly with some form of force.
Greece has all-too-vivid memories of counter-revolutionary forces suppressing democratic expression. When the British crushed a popular Greek uprising in 1944, they did so by creating a right-wing military brigade (outside of the popular, anti-Nazi, volunteer resistance army, EAM) that went on to win a civil war and form the basis of today’s regular Greek army. When Greece joined NATO in 1952, the CIA made Greek Special Forces (the LOK Mountain Raiders) the country’s NATO ‘stay-behind’ secret army, and put them into action in a military coup in 1967.
Could Tsipras have been told or had it indicated to him – perhaps in no uncertain terms, but more likely through ‘whispers on the wind’ – that bloody mayhem would ensue if Syriza didn’t back down? It has been speculated, based on reports that the Greek military was put on standby on July 5th – referendum day – in a rather ominously titled ‘Operation Nemesis’, that a Maidan-like showdown hung over Athens like the proverbial sword of Damocles:
‘Greek army and police prepare for street battles’
UK Sunday Times, 5 July 2015
Greek security forces have drawn up a secret plan to deploy the army alongside special riot police to contain possible civil unrest after today’s referendum on the country’s future in Europe.
Codenamed Nemesis, it makes provision for troops to patrol large cities if there is widespread and prolonged public disorder.
The Greek army has long avoided involvement in politics, but deployment of troops to contain unrest is extremely sensitive in a country with a history of military coups.
Several ministers in Alexis Tsipras’s leftist government, some of them former communists, voiced outrage when told of the proposal at a cabinet meeting on June 26, hours before he announced the vote.
In Greek mythology, ‘Nemesis’ follows ‘hubris’, so was this a thinly veiled threat of retribution against Syriza’s ‘hubris’ for standing up to the money masters? To gauge the likelihood of that, we’d need to know the circumstances behind the operation. As it was reported, there’s no reason to think that it wasn’t sanctioned by Tsipras as a precaution against riots breaking out – whether they occurred spontaneously or with the assistance of outside or subversive forces. In this case, putting military and security forces on alert is surely a measure to thwart conditions leading to a coup, not instigate them.
Nevertheless, there is some circumstantial data (it’s not ‘evidence’) of subversive forces at work in the background.
- The day after Syriza was elected, a Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed on take-off at Los Llanos military base during a NATO military exercise in Albacete, Spain, killing two Greek and eight French military personnel, and injuring 21 others.
- In mid-March, US Assistant Secretary for War in Europe European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, visited Athens to subtly remind Tsipras not to break ranks with NATO allies against Russia.
- The day after the punitive ‘bailout’ deal was reached in Brussels, locals were adamant that destructive fires, which broke out in and around Athens, were the work of arsonists. Pointing out that at least some of them began simultaneously, the mayor of the district of Ilioupoli, Vassilis Balassopoulos, claimed, “This is clearly arson, I heard explosive devices go off in the forest.”
But the best clue pointing to deliberate mahyem-making came when Athens police arrested 26 people during a riot in Athens on July 17th and charged them with smashing up a metro station and attacking police officers. 14 of these agitators were non-Greeks: four came from Germany, three from Poland, two were French, one Australian, one Ukrainian, one Dutch, one Italian, and one Albanian. In addition, police officers told Greek media outlet Kathimerini that there were other recent cases of foreign rioters, including a Syrian, a Pakistani and a Georgian arrested during similar clashes on July 5th. Some of them told police they had been paid between 20 and 30 euros to take part in the disturbances.
A variety of statements made by Greek and American elites highlight U.S. government interest in Greece accepting the third bailout program and remaining in the euro zone. On the eve of the referendum, a group of 65 former generals and other senior Greek military personnel, including General Frangoulis Frangos, a former defense minister and head of the Greek army general staff until 2011, made an extraordinary intervention by signing an incredibly shrill public statement calling for a ‘yes’ vote:
“We have vowed to the Homeland and the flag. We devote our lives to the defense of the country. We have served the Republic and Liberty. Our goal has always been to defend the Nation and its Welfare. The circumstances and the times force us to express our fears and worries. The strength of our country is the most important thing we have and at this time its power is compromised. Our exit from Europe and the euro will make our country weaker. We will lose allies who have stood by our side. We will lose the power that is given to us by the associations and groups of countries to which we belong historically and culturally.
An important factor in a country’s power are its allies, who will hasten when it faces the highest risk. Without allies, our strength diminishes, the position of our country is discredited and the consequences will be terrible. The geopolitical position of the country is power, but also weakness [‘Power’ from the perspective of Greece’s location being important to the US; ‘weakness’ from the perspective of Greece being tempted to re-align with Russia – NB]. Our exit from Europe will make us weak to pressures that will intensify and become more threatening, and all the sacrifices Greeks have made will go to waste.
By choosing isolation we are endangering the Homeland and its future. With the choice of isolation, we are taking a risk with painful consequences. A risk that can have enormous costs for the Country, Democracy, Freedom and National Sovereignty. With the choice of isolation we are making the country powerless against the challenges of those who conspire against it; we make it weak against those who want it to kneel and to be subjugated.
Europe is our ally.
Greece is Europe.
Yes to Greece. Yes to Europe.”
To read that, you’d think Greece was facing an existential threat, like imminent nuclear holocaust, not a political decision over whether or not to accept the latest Brussels bailout terms. And indeed, Greece is in a dire straits, but it’s a result of being in the euro, not out of it. In addition to this bizarre statement, Frangos ranted to Kathimerini:
“With its irresponsibility and its verbiage, the coalition government has vilified our homeland and Greeks worldwide, and have led them down a difficult path with an uncertain future, and complete impoverishment as a result of the criminal irresponsibility of those who cheated with ambiguous and false promises, and who have usurped the vote of the Greek people. Greeks must, as ever, decide wisely and with temper for our survival as a nation within Europe with a resounding YES on Sunday!”
Clearly referring to Tsipras, Fragkos also said that “the moral values and principles that have always defined us Greeks are not under negotiation with any clueless and historically ignorant [politician] who is advancing his own party interest.” But rather than describing Tsipras or the Syriza party, Frangos’ rant perfectly describes the kind of people who got Greece into this situation, and who Syriza ministers are up against in trying to get Greece out of it. Where does such paranoia come from, if not the Strangelovian mindset at NATO or the irrational Russophobia in Washington?
When Syriza first formed, one of the items on its to-do list was the “closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO,” something that would not have gone down well with the Greek military or Washington. For some 15 years now, Greece has – per capita – consistently been the highest-spending European NATO member, thanks in part to enormous bribes for contracts from German and French weapons manufacturers. Even during its ‘debt crisis’, Greece has been one of just four member-states that fully implemented the NATO target of spending at least 2% of its annual GDP on the military.
Oligarkhia, from oligoi – ‘few’ – and arkhein – ‘to rule’
There are countless ways in which pressure could have been brought to bear on Tsipras and his government. The question to ask is: who would have had the means and motive to threaten them? While the retired generals’ intervention made no explicit mention of NATO or US geopolitical interests, a separate intervention by wealthy Greek-Americans did cut straight to the chase in a pre-referendum statement on Greek priorities:
“Regardless of the outcome of the referendum held in Greece on July 5, 2015, what is crucial to the Greek American community is that U.S.-Greece relations remain strong and certain, and Greece’s geostrategic importance and contributions to the security interests of the U.S. and NATO is valued and appreciated.”
Greek-American lobby groups have been received at the White House by US Vice President Joe Biden on a number of occasions in recent months, ostensibly as part of their funding drive to provide Greece with ‘humanitarian aid’. In their most recent meeting, it was agreed that the US government will establish an “interministerial working group” to investigate possible areas of assistance to Greece, including “military support from the Pentagon.” In what appears to be an oblique reference to the Greek government’s deal with Putin to extend the Turkish Stream gas pipeline through Greece, these Greek-American lobbyists said they would like to see the US government “send a clear message that the U.S. wants Greece to become an energy hub,” presumably to the exclusion of Russian involvement.
There’s not much we can say about the likelihood of Greek military intervention in the form of a coup, or even whether the mere threat of a coup was weighing on Tsipras’s mind as the referendum result was announced, without knowing the political leanings of the current military heads. On the whole, I’m inclined to assume that their training and education – to say nothing of their daily working contact with NATO, especially in the current climate of hyper-paranoid US antagonism towards Russia – is likely to make them pro-NATO to the extent of supporting Washington’s bottom line: Greece must not be separated from the EU because the risk of separation from NATO follows.
Robert Kaplan is Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the Democrats’ answer to the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century think-tank. In his June 30th op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, ‘The Greek Crisis Is About More Than Money‘, Kaplan went beyond Europeans’ fear of “euro-debt contagion” to spell out US geostrategic interest in keeping Greece within the Western fold:
[…] the spectacle of a major Balkan country pivotally loosening its ties with the West, even as Russia appears momentarily ascendant in the region, will be sobering in the extreme.
The first post-Cold War decades featured a secure Eurasian maritime sphere from the Mediterranean across the Indian Ocean to the Western Pacific. Thus, the weakening of Greece’s ties with the West in the eastern Mediterranean has to be seen alongside the ascendancy of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the rise of China in the South and East China seas as a singular process in the chipping away at American power.
Whether or not it was explicitly intended, the split we’re seeing in Syriza was inevitable: the revolutionary or independence movement’s leadership – when confronting the “ramified network of mutual pathological conspiracies” – is always forced to make the difficult, but heavily weighted, choice of backing down to live another day, or risking going down in flames with large numbers of the people they’ve sworn to defend.
In part 2, we’ll be looking at more revelations from Varoufakis on the ‘troika’, his ‘global minotaur’ metaphor for ‘the Beast’ a.k.a US empire, and why the Eurocrats rejected his plan to actually solve Europe’s money problems…