By John Charles Dyer, UK Correspondent.
25 May 2012. IMF boss, Christine Lagarde warned Greeks in a Guardian interview not to expect sympathy from the IMF, despite being reduced to scavenging garbage bins to feed themselves and their children. Her blunt messages- stop whining, take responsibility, pay up, and don’t expect the IMF to soften the terms of austerity. The interview provoked outrage in Greece and in England. In England it prompted an investigation that adduced the allegation that Lagarde, while she demanded the Greeks pay their taxes, herself does not pay taxes on her salary.
But does it provoke outrage in the White House? Or does Christine Lagarde speak for the President?
It is not illogical to infer that she does speak for the President
Lagarde heads the IMF. Although she is not technically an employee of the US administration, it does not take the microscopic scrutiny of a Sherlock Holmes to see how much power the US wields in the IMF. It has long been recognized and the US criticized for pushing a “neo-liberal” agenda of free trade in a no holds barred global free market. While the US voting share of 16.75% of votes may seem small, it is an effective veto power over key decisions. For example, changes to member voting power must be approved by 85% of the votes. With 16.75% of the vote the US can block China, for instance, from having a larger share of the votes in the future to reflect its ramping economy.
There are other examples. In 2010 Germany called on the US to give up that veto power but the US has not and Legarde herself recently acknowledged the importance of US leadership in the global economy.
So when Legarde makes a point of demeaning the Greeks and their agony, when her speach may be seen more like a loan shark than a stateswoman, is she speaking for the US?
It certainly looks like it. There is little doubt the US could reign in Lagarde and change her tone if the US chose to do so. It has been a week. The US hasn’t done so.
What are we doing, President Obama?
We have aligned our nation with those who replace democratically elected leaders with functionary “colonial governors.” These functionaries enforce (for a Eurozone and IMF led by social conservatives) odious loan terms of draconian austerity, despite that austerity’s failure to achieve its stated purpose and despite the US public position Europe should turn its attention to growth.
I know this is a complicated situation of serious stakes and difficult to assess risks, solutions, and, dare I say it, opportunities. But Christine Lagarde’s statements and IMF actions in conjunction with the Eurozone leadership contradict every precept for which the US once stood in the world. In my lifetime I have watched with growing horror the slow motion train wreck that has been the transformation of the US from world wide symbol of government devoted to human potential and the common good to a world wide symbol of the imposition of its opposite.
Many had hoped you would change that.
Where is she tonight?
Last week Lagarde was a busy lady. Not only did she tongue lash the already burdened Greeks, she, speaking for an "independent" IMF, expressly and unequivocally supported the austerity measures voluntarily undertaken by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne even as she delivered an IMF report urging a plan B. Both Cameron and Osborne have said in the past that the US wants to imitate the UK approach in the US. Do Lagarde's comments reflect the truth of that assertion? Or is the US steering the British electorate? It can't be she is off the reservation, can it?
That was last week, President Obama. Do you know where your IMF boss will be tonight? Do you know what she will be saying and doing? When she does, will she speak for you?
I pray the answer is "No." I fear the answer is "Yes."