By Patricia H Kushlis
Since Greece’s founding in the 1820s, no hard left wing party has governed the country before SYRIZA came to power in January. There’s one thing about winning an election; another about negotiating a country’s vital interests at the international level. Alexis Tsipras’ inexperience and resulting ineptitude showed through in spades. (Photo left: Wikipedia commons)
The deal negotiated last weekend is worse for Greece than the one Tsipras walked away from a few days before. The Greek economy and the Greek people have suffered even more since SYRIZA’s election than they had since the first bailout was needed; and its diplomats must be cringing because surely they could have negotiated the country’s future more skillfully. Just saying No and calling a hasty, ambiguous referendum may not always be the best approach.
What about the others?
But what about the EURO-zone, the EU, the ECB and the German government plus all the rest of those countries who support austerity policies so dogmatically regardless of the consequences? A little less austerity and a bit more Keynes would likely have pulled the EU out of recession several years ago. Germany’s export driven policies which buoyed that country’s economy have relied on sales elsewhere – especially throughout Europe – but if other countries do not have the wherewithal to buy German products how long will this approach succeed?
This was not Angela Merkel’s finest hour.
Magnanimity was nowhere on display. It took French President François Hollande, EU Council and Polish President Donald Trusk and Christine LaGard at the IMF to shake this German government to its senses - albeit grudgingly.
A Bundestag vote is still needed for approval but now reportedly likely to pass. The public is divided. Meanwhile, the Germans have not helped their image abroad: precisely the opposite. Their hard headed rightist Finance Minister Wolfgang Shäuble has done much to dredge up the very worst World War II images of Germans - something post- war governments have all worked so hard to dispel for decades.
I don’t think, however, that all of the terms Tsipras' agreed to implement to unfreeze capital to Greek banks and restore liquidity are deleterious for the country. Perhaps, in the end, the Greeks - and certain other countries as well - may require outside intervention to do what their governments have not had the political will to do themselves – that is to free their country of questionable labor practices and certain tax policies that have hamstrung the economy and the country’s well-being for decades.