Syriza: Plunder, Pillage & Prostration

How the ‘Hard Left’ embraces the policies of the Hard Right

Greece has been in the headlines of the world’s financial press for the past five months, as a newly elected leftist party, ‘Syriza’, which ostensibly opposes so-called ‘austerity measures’, faces off against the “Troika” (International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank).

Early on, the Syriza leadership, headed by Alexis Tsipras, adopted several strategic positions with fatal consequences - in terms of implementing their electoral promises to raise living standards, end vassalage to the ‘Troika’ and pursue an independent foreign policy.

We will proceed by outlining the initial systemic failures of Syriza and the subsequent concessions further eroding Greek living standards and deepening Greece’s role as an active collaborator of US and Israeli imperialism.

Winning Elections & Surrendering Power

The North American and European Left celebrated Syriza’s election victory as a break with neo-liberal austerity programs and the launch of a radical alternative, which would implement popular initiatives for basic social changes, including measures generating employment, restoring pensions, reversing privatizations, reordering government priorities and favoring payments to employees over foreign banks. The “evidence” for the radical reform agenda was contained in the ‘Thessaloniki Manifesto’ which Syriza promised to be the program guiding their newly elected officials.

However, prior to, and immediately after being elected, Syriza leaders adopted three basic decisions precluding any basic changes: Indeed, these decisions set it on a reactionary course.

First and foremost, Syriza accepted as legitimate the foreign debt of over $350 billion dollars, although most had been signed by previous government Kleptocrats, corrupt banks, business, real estate and financial interests. Virtually none of this debt was used to finance productive activity or vital services which would strengthen the economy and Greece’s future ability to payback the loans.

Hundreds of billions of Euros were stashed away in foreign bank accounts and foreign real estate or invested in overseas stocks and bonds. After affirming the ‘legitimacy’ of the illicit debt, Syriza followed up by declaring its ‘willingness’ to pay the debt. The ‘Troika’ immediately understood that the new Syriza government would be a willing hostage to further coercion, blackmail and debt payments.

Secondly, and related to the above, Syriza declared its determination to remain in the European Union and Eurozone and thus accepted the surrender of its sovereignty and ability to fashion an independent policy. It declared its willingness to submit to the dictates of the Troika. Once under the thumb of the Troika, Syriza’s only policy would be to ‘negotiate’, ‘renegotiate’ and make further concessions to the EU overseas banks in a totally one-sided process. Syriza’s rapid submission to the Troika was their second strategic, but not their last, betrayal of its electoral program.

Once Syriza demonstrated to the Troika, its willingness to betray its popular program, the Troika escalated its demands and hardened its intransigence. Brussels discounted Syriza’s leftist rhetoric and radical theatrical gestures as blowing smoke in the eyes of the Greek electorate. The EU bankers knew that when it came time to negotiate new loan agreements, the Syriza leadership would capitulate. Meanwhile, the Euro-American Left swallowed Syriza’s entire radical rhetoric without looking at its actual practice.

Thirdly, on taking office, Syriza negotiated a coalition with the far-right, pro-NATO, xenophobic, anti-immigrant Independent Greeks Party, guaranteeing that Greece would continue to support NATO’s military policies in the Middle East, the Ukraine and Israel’s brutal campaign against Palestine.

Fourthly, the bulk of Prime Minister Tsipras cabinet appointees had no experience of class struggle .Worse still, most were academics and former PASOK advisers without any capacity or willingness to break with the dictates of the Troika. Their academic ‘practice’ consisted largely of theoretical ‘combat’, ill-suited for real-world confrontation with aggressive imperial powers.

From a Scratch to Gangrene

By capitulating to the EU from the outset, including accepting to pay the illegitimate debt, hooking up with the Far Right and submitting to the dictates of the Troika, the stage was set for SYRIZA to betray all its promises and to worsen the economic burden for its supporters. The worst betrayals include: (1) not restoring pension payments; (2) not restoring the minimum wage; (3) not reversing privatizations; (4) not ending austerity programs; and (5) not increasing funds for education, health, housing and local development.

The Troika and its publicists in the financial press are demanding that Syriza cut the Greek pension system even further ,impoverishing over 1.5 million retired workers. Contrary to the media’s planted ‘examples’ of fat pensions enjoyed by less then 5% of pensioners, the Greeks have suffered the deepest pension reductions in Europe over the past century. In just the last past 4 years the Troika cut Greek pensions eight times. The vast majority of pensions have been slashed by nearly 50% since 2010.The average pension is 700 Euros a month but 45%of Greek pensioners receive less than 665 Euros a month - below the poverty line. Yet the Troika demands even greater reductions. These include an end of budget subsidies for pensioners living in extreme poverty, an increase in the retirement age to 67, an abolition of pension provisions tied to hazardous occupations and for working mothers. The earlier regressive measures, imposed by the Troika and implemented by the previous right-wing coalition regime, severely depleted the Greek pension fund. In 2012, the Troika’s ‘debt restructuring’ program led to the loss of 25 billion Euros of reserves held by the Greek government in government bonds. Troika austerity policies ensured that the pension reserves would not be replenished. Contributions plummeted as unemployment soared to nearly 30% (Financial Times 6/5/15 p4). Despite the Troika’s frontal assault on the Greek pension system, Syriza’s “economic team” expressed its willingness to raise the retirement age, cut pensions by 5% and negotiate further betrayals of pensioners facing destitution. Syriza has not only failed to fulfill its campaign promise to reverse the previous regressive policies, but is engaged in its own ‘pragmatic’ sellouts with the Troika.

Worse still, Syriza has deepened and extended the policies of its reactionary predecessors. (1)Syriza promised to freeze privatizations: Now it vows to extend them by 3.2 billion Euros and privatize new public sectors. (2) Syriza has agreed to shift scarce public resources to the military, including an investment of $500 million Euros to upgrade the Greek Air Force. (3) Syriza plundered the national pension fund and municipal treasuries of over a billion Euros to meet debt payments to the Troika. (4) Syriza is cutting public investments in job creating infrastructure projects to meet Troika deadlines. ( 5) Syriza has agreed to a budget surplus of 0.6% at a time when Greece is running a 0.7% deficit this year - meaning more cuts later this year. (6) Syriza promised to reduce the VAT on essentials like food; now it accepts a 23% rate.

Syriza’s foreign policy mimics its predecessors. Syriza’s far right Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, has been a vocal supporter of the US and EU sanctions against Russia- despite the usual flurry of Syriza’s faked “dissent” to NATO policies, followed by total capitulation – to remain in good standing with NATO. The Syriza regime has allowed each and every well-known kleptocrat and tax evader to retain their illicit wealth and to add to their overseas holdings with massive transfers of their current ‘savings’ out of the country. By the end of May 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras and Finance Minister Varofakis have emptied the Treasury to meet debt payments, increasing the prospects that pensioners and public sector workers will not receive their benefits. Having emptied the Greek Treasury, Syriza will now impose the “Troika solution” on the backs of the impoverished Greek masses: either sign-off on a new “austerity” plan, lowering pensions, increasing retirement age, eliminating labor laws protecting workers’ job security and negotiating rights or face an empty treasury, no pensions, rising unemployment and deepening economic depression. Syriza has deliberately emptied the Treasury, plundered pension funds and local municipal holdings in order to blackmail the population to accept as a ‘fait accompli’ the regressive policies of hardline EU bankers – the so-called “austerity programs”.

From the very beginning, Syriza gave into the Troika’s dictates, even as they play-acted their ‘principled resistance’. First they lied to the Greek public, calling the Troika ‘international partners’. Then they lied again calling the Troika memorandum for greater austerity a ‘negotiating document’. Syriza’s deceptions were meant to hide their continuation of the highly unpopular ‘framework’ imposed by the previous discredited hard rightwing regime.

As Syriza plundered the country of resources to pay the bankers, it escalated its international groveling. Its Defense Minister offered new military bases for NATO, including an air-maritime base on the Greek island of Karpathos. Syriza escalated Greece’s political and military support for EU and US military intervention and support of “moderate” terrorists in the Middle East, ludicrously in the name of “protecting Christians”. Syriza, currying favor with European and US Zionists, strengthened its ties with Israel, evoking a ‘strategic alliance’ with the terrorist-apartheid state. From his first days in office, the hard right Defense Minister Kammenos proposed the creation of a “common defense space” including Cyprus and Israel – thus supporting Israel’s air and sea blockade of Gaza.

Conclusion

Syriza’s political decision to ‘embed’ in the EU and the Eurozone, at all costs, signals that Greece will continue to be vassal state, betraying its program and adopting deeply reactionary policies, even while trumpeting its phony leftist rhetoric, and feigning ‘resistance’ to the Troika. Despite the fact that Syriza plundered domestic pensions and local treasuries, many deluded Leftists in Europe and the US continue to accept and rationalize what they choose to dub its “realistic and pragmatic compromises”.

Syriza could have confiscated and used the $32 billion of real estate properties owned by the Greek Armed Forces to implement an alternative investment and development plan – leasing these properties for commercial maritime ports, airports and tourist facilities.

Syriza buried Greece even deeper into the hierarchy dominated by German finance,by surrendering its sovereign power to impose a debt moratorium, leave the Eurozone, husband its financial resources, reinstate a national currency, impose capital controls, confiscate billions of Euros in illicit overseas accounts, mobilize local funds to finance economic recovery and reactivate the public and private sector. The fake “Left sector” within Syriza repeatedly mouthed impotent “objections”, while the Tsipras -Varofakis sell-out charade proceeded to the ultimate capitulation.

In the end, Syriza has deepened poverty and unemployment, increased foreign control over the economy, further eroded the public sector, facilitated the firing of workers and slashed severance pay- while increasing the role of the Greek military by deepening its ties to NATO and Israel.

Equally important, Syriza has totally emptied leftist phraseology of any cognitive meaning: for them - national sovereignty is translated into international vassalage and anti-austerity becomes pragmatic capitulations to new austerity. When the Tsipras – Troika agreement is finally signed and the terrible toll of austerity for the next decades finally sinks into the consciousness of the Greek public, the betrayals will hopefully evoke mass revulsion. Perhaps Syriza will split, and the “left” will finally abandon their cushy Cabinet posts and join the disaffected millions in forming an alternative Party.

# # # #

Professor James Petras, Boiling Frogs Post contributing analyst, is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. Dr. Petras received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. You can visit his website here.

BFP Exclusive – The Balkans Elections Update: Croatia & Greece

The genie of political anti-imperialist rebellion in Europe is out of the bottle & cannot be repressed

Last month I wrote a BFP exclusive report on the upcoming presidential elections in Croatia and Greece. I claimed that in each of these elections there were political candidates and options taking a clear stand of resistance to the hegemonic US-NATO Empire in the Balkans. I predicted that these forces will gain significant political support and suggested that this should be interpreted as a sign of the weakening of the Empire's hold on the region.

Now, more than a month later, it is time to examine the actual election results and discuss their importance for the future course of action both by the forces supporting the Empire and those opposed to it.

Croatia

As predicted, the Croatian presidential elections was not decided in the first round of voting on December 28. Neither of the four candidates - the incumbent Ivo Josipović and three challengers Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Milan Kujundžić, and Ivan Vilibor Sinčić - received the necessary 50% of the vote to win outright. The two highest placed candidates, Ivo Josipović with 38.5% of the vote and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović with 37% of the vote, went into the runoff scheduled for January 11. The readers will recall that I characterized Grabar-Kitarović as the Empire's favorite. She is a former Croatian foreign minister and ambassador to the US, former NATO Assistant Secretary General and a member of the Trilateral Commision.

This outcome has been expected and is nothing to write home about. However, the result of Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, the representative of the anti-imperialist organization "Živi zid", whom I had described in my previous report as the most progressive and humanist candidate, positively surprised even the most optimistic observers (including myself). Even though most pre-election opinion polls had predicted that he would receive no more than 10% of the vote (and some even put his support below 5%), Sinčić got the amazing16.5%.[i]

This means that a sizable portion of the Croatian citizens share his goal of resistance to the US-NATO Empire's control and its neoliberal policy goals. In a Balkan country that, in addition to Albania and the status problematic Kosovo, is the most beholden to the Empire due to its financial, military and media assistance in the war for independence, including the persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Serbian minority in the Gladio-type Operation "Storm" in 1995, this is a fantastic result.

It is clear that Sinčić and the political organization he leads have an excellent head-start for the next parliamentary elections. There is little doubt that they may have close to one fifth of the parliamentary deputies and hence a great chance to be represented at the ministerial level in any future government. In this way, the anti-imperialist discourse will become a part of the Croatian political mainstream, and the calls for the Croatia's exit from NATO will be more and more prominent in the public sphere.

Sinčić decided to instruct his supporters not to vote for any of the two candidates in the runoff. He claimed that they were both very much the same in serving the goals of the US-NATO Empire and the corrupt capitalist oligarchy and that therefore it was irrelevant which "puppet" would win the presidency.[ii]

In my previous report, I stated that it would be wise for the incumbent president Josipović to modify some of his geopolitical positions and social policy proposals and try to get Sinčić on his side. Otherwise, I predicted that he would lose the presidency to the Empire's favorite: Grabar-Kitarović.

Josipović was either unwilling or unable (due perhaps to some publicly unknown Empire's blackmail) to mollify Sinčić, and he became the first Croatian presidential incumbent not to get the second term. On January 11, he received 49.5% of the vote, while his opponent got 50.5%.[iii] Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović became the president of Croatia for the next five year period.

Although it may appear that the US-NATO Empire has a great deal to celebrate because, after all, the candidate they favored got to be the president, in essence this is a Pyrrhic victory. Very soon Sinčić and his fellow activists will be elected to the Parliament and they will be able to seriously curtail the course charted by Grabar-Kitarović and her imperial mentors.

Greece

In contrast to Croatia, the president in Greece is not elected directly by the people but by the deputies in the Parliament. However, if the candidate proposed by the prime minister is not elected in the three rounds of voting (three ballots), the government falls and the immediate parliamentary elections are held.

In my previous report, I explained why I thought that the US-NATO Empire favorite Stavros Dimas, former foreign minister and EU Commissioner, proposed as the candidate by the prime minister Antonis Samaras, will not get the necessary votes to get elected. I expressed some concern that perhaps certain corrupt vote manipulations might take place on the final ballot on December 29 in order to prevent the snap parliamentary elections.

This concern arose from the fact that the likely winner of the parliamentary elections would be SYRIZA, the coalition of anti-imperialist left forces, whose political platform included the measures that would spell the end of neoliberal economic policies not only in Greece, but also in the rest of the European Union. SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras did not mince words in criticizing the policies of the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) and vowed to stop what they saw as punitive measures against the Greek people as a whole. In fact, Tsipras' economic adviser, Yanis Varoufakis, a well-known maverick economic theory professor and the author of The Global Minotaur , the best-selling book on the 2008 financial crisis, called these policies "fiscal waterboarding".[iv]

My concern turned out to be unfounded, and when the president failed to be elected on the third ballot, the prime minister Samaras scheduled the new elections for January 25.

In the run-up to the elections, it was clear that SYRIZA would win the majority, the only questions that remained to be answered were how large that majority would be and whether SYRIZA would be able to govern alone or would need a coalition partner.

SYRIZA's political program contained a radical break with the US-NATO Empire policies imposed on Greece not only from the economic, but also from the geopolitical perspective. SYRIZA called for the emancipatory re-orientation of the Greek foreign policy from the slavish following of the US-NATO interests to the articulation of autonomous policies contributing to global peace, solidarity, and cooperation among different nations. The concrete steps included in the political program dealt with the recall of the Greek soldiers from the current NATO mission in Afghanistan, the closing of all foreign bases on the Greek territory, and the exit from NATO. The economic sanctions against Russia also elicited SYRIZA's critique.

It was clear that, the victory of SYRIZA, if it were to take place, would represent the most significant ideological shift away from neoliberal imperialism since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of the Soviet bloc.

And, then, on January 25, something that, from the viewpoint of the US-NATO Empire seemed nearly impossible, actually took place. SYRIZA won an overwhelming number of parliamentary seats, two short of the absolute majority (149 seats out of 300).[v] Already in the morning of the next day, they signed a coalition agreement with the rightist, anti-austerity Independent Greeks party (ANEL) which has 13 deputies. Tsipras became the new prime minister, and Varoufakis the new finance minister. Varoufakis paraphrased the words of the poet Dylan Thomas: "Greek democracy today chose to stop going gently into the night. Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light".[vi]

This entirely logical and rational "rage" is an unmistakable nightmare scenario for the US-NATO Empire. No wonder then that all the corporate-controlled media (from Bloomberg and CNN to the Wall Street Journal and the Economist) as well as the credit rating agencies went into the high gear finding all kinds of faults with SYRIZA and its first political moves. The next line of fire will be the Washington, London, and Brussels think tanks and then, unfortunately but very likely, also the Gladio operatives. It is worth recalling that Greece already went through a bloody NATO-supported, Gladio-run military junta government from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. Might the same happen again?

Still, the genie of political anti-imperialist rebellion in Europe is out of the bottle and cannot be repressed. The electoral success of SYRIZA will motivate like-minded political movements to spring up elsewhere in the European Union and take a stand against the unjust and corrupt militarist Empire, which tries to transform its twilight into a new dawn over dead bodies.

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com

NOTES

[i] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/29/croatian-presidential-candidates-set-for-election-run-off

[ii] http://www.vecernji.hr/predsjednicki-izbori2014/sincic-podcijenili-su-me-josipovicu-sam-oteo-pobjedu-u-prvom-krugu-981564

[iii] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30765822

[iv] http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2015/01/05/stop-greeces-fiscal-waterboarding-interviewed-by-la-repubblica/

[v] http://www.ibtimes.com/greek-election-results-2015-syriza-wins-comfortable-margin-historic-elections-1794076

[vi] http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2015/jan/26/profile-yannis-varoufakis-greece-finance-minister

 

BFP Exclusive- The Balkans Presidential December: A Test for the US-NATO Empire

Greece & Croatia: The clear presence of a political alternative to the hegemonic US-NATO Empire

 This month the presidential elections will take place in two Balkan countries: Croatia and Greece. The electoral systems in these two countries are different, but what they have in common is the clear presence of a political alternative to the hegemonic US-NATO Empire. This is yet another sign that the people of the region are beginning to resist and reject the imperial grip and are in the process of making possible a different, more autonomous political future.

Croatia

The elections in Croatia will take place on December 28. They will be the sixth presidential elections since Croatia separated from the Yugoslav Federation and became an independent state in 1992. So far there have been only three presidents: the nationalist Franjo Tudjman (1992-1999), the ex-Communist functionary Stipe Mesić (2000-2010) and the current president, law professor and composer Ivo Josipović (2010-). Josipović is also one of the candidates in the current elections. Both of his predeccesors were able to get the second mandate.

The incumbent Josipović, who is nominally an independent but is supported by the ruling Social-Democrat party (SDP) of the prime minister Zoran Milanović, has three challengers. The challenger who comes from the main opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), is Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. She is the "picture-perfect" candidate of the US-NATO Empire. She was the Croatian minister of foreign affairs during the key preparatory work for NATO membership (2005-2008), the Croatian ambassador to the U.S (2008-2011) and, most recently, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Democracy.[1] She is also a member of the Trilateral Commission and hence an accomplice in the US-centric neoliberal domination of the globe. In fact, it is precisely her election results that will show the present strength of the unipolar conception of the world in the Balkans. 

The second challenger is the medical doctor Milan Kujundžić, the founder of the party Croatian Dawn, an extreme nationalist party to the right of the mainstream conservative HDZ.[2] The emergence of this party is consistent with the populist-rightist trend in the European Union, which offers what are, in essence, false solutions to the very real social problems caused by neoliberal economic policies. These solutions are false because the real culprits for the crisis remain veiled and protected while others, who are likewise victims (immigrants, minorities, etc.), are vilified and attacked. 

This serious political mistake of taking the effect for the cause is exactly what the third challenger Ivan Vilibor Sinčić does not make and that is why he is, in my opinion, the most progressive and humanist candidate in the elections. Sinčić is the 25-year old leader of a grassroot organization "Živi zid" (the literal translation is the "human wall" or "human shield"), which has become widely popular in Croatia due to their actions of helping fight the numerous evictions and other abuses of human and social rights of ordinary citizens.[3] It is very important to note that Sinčić's organization is entirely locally funded and depends on the work of volunteers. His geopolitical conceptions is likewise  straightforward: the withdrawal from all US-NATO-led international projects and adventures and the return of the sovereign decision-making to the people of Croatia. Sinčić has already acquired a wide following in the Balkans which means that the anti-imperial political conceptions are gaining ground beyond Croatia.[4] He has also received support from noted European intellectuals and alter-globalists, such as Daniel Estulin, the author of the best-selling book on the Bilderbergs.[5] 

According to one of the most recent polls, Sinčić is in the third place with 9.2 percent of the vote, while Josipović is ahead with 46.5%, trailed by Grabar-Kitarović with 34.9%.[6] What is fairly clear at this time is that no candidate will win the outright majority in the first round and that the two highest placed candidates will have to go to the second round. This means that the voters of Sinčić, who most likely will not make the second round, will be crucial in defeating the candidate of US-NATO Empire Grabar-Kitarović. The incumbent Josipović, if he means to win, will therefore have to find a way to accomodate Sinčić's ideas and will be forced to move away from the open support for the further European fragmentation plans of the US-NATO Empire. Moreover, the present strong showing of Sinčić will also enable his organization to get a head-start on the next Croatian parliamentary elections, and we may well have another SYRIZA in the making.

Speaking of SYRIZA, let's take a look at the presidential elections in Greece.

Greece

While in Croatia the president is chosen directly by the people, in Greece, the election of the president takes place in the Parliament. There are three rounds of voting (three ballots). In the first and the second ballot, the candidate has to get 2/3 of the vote to get elected (200 out of 300 deputies), and, in the third, the threshold is lowered to 180 votes. If the candidate does not win the required number of votes in the final, third ballot, the government falls and the immediate parliamentary elections are triggered.

The first round was already held on December 17 and the candidate of the coalition government of the prime minister Antonis Samaras, Stavros Dimas, failed to win the necessary 200 votes.[7] Just like Grabar-Kitarović in the Croatian case, Dimas is a favorite of the US-NATO Empire. He is truly the "member of the club," having been the Greek foreign minister (2011-2012) and the EU Commissioner for the environment for six long years (2004-2010).[8] He was also a Wall Street lawyer and the functionary of the World Bank. It appears certain that he will not get enough votes on the second ballot on December 23. The key question, however, remains as to what will happen on the final ballot on December 29.

Namely, the early parliamentary elections could endanger the plans of the US-NATO Empire and the neoliberal policies of the Troika (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund).According to the relevant public opinion polls, the likely winner of the parliamentary elections would be the progressive leftist party SYRIZA led by the charismatic young engineer Alexis Tsipras.[9]

The reason for this is simple. In the last several years, Troika's imposed policies have brought Greece to the brink of economic and social collapse, in addition to fueling violent right-wing extremism.When the implementation of these policies began, the Greek public debt was at the 115% of the GDP. Now, five years later, it is at the 175% of the GDP with the projection that it will go even beyond the 200% level.[10] It is therefore clear that the so-called austerity measures only worsened the situation.

On the hand, SYRIZA proposes radical economic changes and has a concrete political program to implement them. These policies resemble Roosevelt's "New Deal": massive infrastructure investments and employment opportunities financed by zero interest central bank credits and writing off the public debt.[11] SYRIZA also advocates the withdrawal of Greece from NATO and the radical restructuring of the EU institutions.

This is definitely something that can send the chill down the spines of the US-NATO Empire apparatchiks and their handlers in the corridors of Wall Street and other centers of neoliberal capitalism. In fact, the Empire's favorite media amplifier, the Wall Street Journal, admitted so in a recent article.[12] This is why one should not exclude the possibility of a massive corruption scheme of buying parliamentary votes for Dimas in between the second and the third ballot. This kind of the"carrot" also always goes hand-in-hand with the "stick" of blackmail.   

However, even if the dark, undemocratic forces prevail in this particular case and Dimas gets elected, SYRIZA's march to power appears unstoppable. It is grounded in the deeply felt desires of the Greek population to change the way it is treated by the powerful financial interests which have shown not to care about its wellbeing at all.

On the other hand, the defeat of the US-NATO Empire's candidates Grabar-Kitarović and Dimas will be a clear sign that the Balkan countries are beginning to chart a new, more independent geopolitical future. The political alternative offered by Tsipras and Sinčić will then be set to enlarge its electoral base in the near future. It may even be that all the other countries in the Balkans will soon have their own political equivalents. 

# # # #

Filip Kovacevic, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, is a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at fk1917@yahoo.com



NOTES

[1] http://www.dnevno.hr/zivotopis/121448-kolinda-grabar-kitarovic-zivotopis-biografija.html

[2] http://www.jutarnji.hr/milan-kujundzic-osnovao-stranku-hrvatska-zora-stranka-naroda/1115511/

[3] http://www.dnevno.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/139013-predsjednicki-kandidat-ivan-sincic-zeli-van-iz-eu-ponistenje-pretvorbe-broj-zastupnika-na-100-deblokadu-racuna.html

[4]http://mnmne.org/marko-milacic-zivi-zid-kolumna/

[5]https://hr-hr.facebook.com/zivizidd/posts/10203664027149379

[6] http://www.vecernji.hr/predsjednicki-izbori2014/evo-kako-predsjednicki-kandidati-stoje-u-anketama-980297

[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/12/17/why-everything-is-at-stake-and-yet-nothing-will-be-decided-in-todays-greek-presidential-election/

[8] http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2014/12/09/pm-samaras-stavros-dimas-is-the-presidential-candidate/

[9]http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30481307

[10]http://rt.com/op-edge/185052-greece-crisis-eu-default/

[11]http://links.org.au/node/2888

[12]http://www.wsj.com/articles/greek-leftist-party-syriza-spooks-some-investors-1418310035

 

Empire, Power, and People with Andrew Gavin Marshall- Episode 76

A Crisis of Empire

EPPAt the end of World War II, the United States had half the world's wealth with only 5% of the world's population, and stated explicitly that its objectives in foreign policy were designed to "maintain this disparity." George C. Marshall, former Secretary of State, noted at the time that there was a "world revolution" among "the little people," who were rising up against the centuries of domination by Western colonial powers.

Today, there is a new world revolution taking shape, from the resistance to the internal colonization of the EU in countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, to the popular uprisings currently taking place in Turkey and Brazil, to the continuation of mass protests in Egypt, and various protests and resistance movements across the world over the past few months in countries such as Tunisia, Bahrain, South Africa, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Japan, South Korea, and many more. The global power structures of state-capitalist corporate colonization are paying attention... are you?

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Empire, Power, and People with Andrew Gavin Marshall- Episode 75

The World is Rising

EPPAfter three weeks, Turkey is still experiencing massive unrest as the urban uprisings across the country progress, along with the state repression of them. As tear gas canisters used in Istanbul are made in Brazil, the population of Brazil - across the world - is rising up with hundreds of thousands and even millions of people in the streets. Sparked by an increase in bus fees, Brazil has witnessed the start of its massive urban uprisings, as protests re-charge with the student movement in Chile, with the anti-austerity movements in Greece, and new ones emerge in Indonesia and Lebanon. The world is rising ... will we rise with it?

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The Reality Principle -Episode 18

“Greece: The Political Economy of Depression” with Yanis Varoufakis

RPLogoThis week, Eric closely examines the global economic crisis and, in particular, the manifestation of the Depression in Greece. Eric is joined by economist and author Yanis Varoufakis who provides his valuable insight into the origins and character of the Depression in Greece and around the world. Eric and Yanis discuss the evolution of the crisis and the ways in which Greece has been made into a scapegoat for the economic ills of Europe. Moreover, Yanis explains how the Depression is affecting regular Greeks who now struggle just to survive. Eric and Yanis debate the issue of a Greek exit from the Euro as well as the political formation of resistance to austerity and the policies of the European financier ruling class. In particular, they analyze the rise of SYRIZA as well as the dangerous ascendance of the Nazi Golden Dawn party. Eric and Yanis also examine the historical precedents for the situation in Greece and whether or not they provide a blueprint for how Greece can return to economic prosperity.

Yanis Varoufakis is a world renowned economist, author and lecturer. He is the author of The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis, and the Future of the World Economy, the second edition of which is now available. Yanis Varoufakis is currently Visiting Professor at the University of Texas - Austin and Economist-in-Residence at Valve Corporation. Follow his blog at YanisVaroufakis.eu.

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Empire, Power, and People with Andrew Gavin Marshall- Episode 33

A Hope in Hell: A Look at Greece

EPPIs the world, and what's taking place in it, purely depressing, simply bad, and totally negative? Hell no! In this episode, I look at the social devastation currently wreaking havoc on the population of Greece, a frightful, dehumanizing situation to be sure; but out of this 'hell' the Greeks have established for themselves glimmers of hope from which the world can learn a great deal. In particular, there is a wonderful, vibrant and creative civil disobedience movement known as the 'We won't pay' movement, as in, "We won't pay for your crisis." Their direct actions and revolutionary objectives should be an inspiration for us all, so, naturally, most people have never heard of them. This episode attempts to remedy that crime of omission.

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Empire, Power, and People with Andrew Gavin Marshall- Episode 29

A Greek Tragedy for Europe

EPPIncreased poverty, social unrest, talk of military coups, removal of democratic leaders, bailouts, exploitation, and detention camps. This is the new Europe, and Greece is the microcosm of the continental crisis. The situation unfolding in Greece, and spreading across Europe, is explosive to say the least. With austerity and adjustment comes poverty and exploitation. With these circumstances, we see resistance, protests, riots and the potential for revolution. With this we see increased repression and the rise of radical neo-fascist elements. The scapegoats for the new European fascism are the largely Muslim immigrants, most of whom enter the continent through Greece. They become the target of fascist attacks, and also the reason for the construction of literally hundreds of detention camps across the continent.

The EU is now constructing 50 detention camps in Greece alone, designed to 'house' immigrants before they are deported back to countries we bomb and destroy. How long before the camps are filled with political dissidents and others? What is taking place in Greece and the European Union will spread across the industrialized world, so it's time to start paying attention to the Greek Tragedy unfolding in Europe.

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The New Mediterranean Oil & Gas Bonanza: Part II

Rising Energy Tensions in the Aegean—Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria

By William Engdahl

LevBasinThe discovery in late 2010 of the huge natural gas bonanza off Israel’s Mediterranean shores triggered other neighboring countries to look more closely at their own waters. The results revealed that the entire eastern Mediterranean is swimming in huge untapped oil and gas reserves. That discovery is having enormous political, geopolitical as well as economic consequences. It well may have potential military consequences too.

Preliminary exploration has confirmed similarly impressive reserves of gas and oil in the waters off Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and potentially, Syria.

Greek ‘energy Sirtaki’

Not surprisingly, amid its disastrous financial crisis the Greek government began serious exploration for oil and gas. Since then the country has been in a curious kind of a dance with the IMF and EU governments, a kind of “energy Sirtaki” over who will control and ultimately benefit from the huge resource discoveries there. 

energeanIn December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea.[1] [Read more...]