A political puzzle 9

The Washington Post and the EU are finding it hard to understand the behavior of the newly elected far-left government of Greece.

It is doing things that could possibly be interpreted as signs that it feels friendlier towards Russia and China than to its fellow members the EU. But no one wants to jump to conclusions. It’s strange and puzzling, as the Washington Post reports it:

[Greece] is complicating Western efforts to take a tough line against Moscow amid an escalating Russian-backed insurgency in southeastern Ukraine.

The new dynamic was on display Thursday, with European foreign ministers gathered for an emergency meeting in Brussels to consider fresh sanctions against Moscow just days after shelling killed 30 civilians in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. But amid Greece’s doubts, the ministers could agree only to extend existing sanctions while deferring any decision on new ones after hours of emotional debate.

“The discussion was open, frank and heated,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said in an interview.

Take note of that “heated”.

Although Greece is just one of 28 members of both the European Union and NATO, both organizations operate on a principle of unanimous consent, meaning any member can block policy with a simple veto.

After years of Russian support for populists on the far right and far left in an attempt to undermine European unity, the election of Syriza gives Moscow a potentially critical spoiler at the heart of Western decision-making.

The prospect of a Russian beachhead inside Western alliances has stirred Cold War-style fears within European defense ministries this week. “If you can’t sit down in a NATO meeting in Brussels, dive into the intelligence and be sure that it’s not going straight back to the Kremlin, that’s a pretty significant and shocking development for the alliance,” said Ian Kearns, director of the European Leadership Network, a London-based think tank.

But just how far Greece’s new government will go in hewing to a pro-Russian line remains unclear. …

The threat of disruption to Europe’s Russia policy, some officials said, may be a mere tactic ahead of broader and, for Greece, more important negotiations to come over the terms of the country’s mammoth debt. Syriza has demanded that the country’s $284 billion bailout agreements be renegotiated, with a significant portion of the total forgiven and austerity restrictions lifted. …

In other words, members of the EU suspect that Greece may be blackmailing it: “Save our economy, or you may find you have big problems with Russia.” But they don’t want to think about that. They prefer to feel bewildered. So what, they wonder, is Greece playing at?

Before the party’s victory Sunday, Syriza’s leadership was outspoken in defending Russia against Western criticism. Last spring, Tsipras visited Moscow and met with Kremlin associates. Western sanctions, he said, were counterproductive.

“I’m sure the E.U. should conduct dialogue and seek peaceful ways out of the conflict together with Moscow and not impose sanctions on Russia,” Tsipras told the state-owned daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Since Sunday, Syriza has doubled down in its backing for Russia.

Tsipras had been in office for only hours Monday when he welcomed his first foreign visitor, the Russian ambassador.

The second was the Chinese ambassador.

Greece objected vehemently when European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday issued a statement condemning Moscow for the shelling of Mariupol [in the Ukraine] and asking European foreign ministers to draw up new sanctions. …

For Syriza, challenging the EU stance on Russia reflects an ideology “that says we have to be skeptical of certain things our European partners do because the EU is a capitalist, neoliberal enterprise,” said Spyros Economides, an international relations professor at the London School of Economics. For Russia, he said, support for Syriza is more “a marriage of convenience”.

Some Russian officials have responded to Syriza’s triumph with undisguised glee.

“Syriza’s victory will be a breakthrough and will destroy Europe’s liberal consensus,” Mikhail Emelyanov, head of the Russian Duma’s committee on economic policy, told the state news service RIA Novosti. …

But say it is not so! It seems as if … but no … surely not … we simply cannot be sure ….

“You have a lot of people asking themselves whether Greece is going to play the role of the Trojan horse,” said Ben Nimmo, a European security analyst and former NATO official. “But nobody really knows. … ”

A baffled EU. Unable to interpret the signs with any conviction. Lost in a cloud of unknowing.

  • Don L

    No government has promoted Free Market Capitalism. In fact, they have blamed it for their central planning failures. So, when the nation cannot deliver on its absurd and impossible promises…the mobs will turn to the next biggest liars, the totalitarianists and the promise of stealing everything from the wealthy. Greece is the first domino to fall in the failure of western central banking central planning. Already c onditioned to believe Free-Market Capitalism cannot be adopted…

    Get a white robe, a brown piece of rope as a belt, a huge piece of poster board and a stick to nail it to, men shoukld grow a lot of facial hair and write “the end is nye” on the poster. Put your head between your knees and kiss your…goodbye.

    Shoot a duck. I have no idea what that means.

    • Don L

      P.S. Last night, I caught piece of a story on the History Channel’s show Mysteries from the Museum…it was about Alexander Hamilton. The piece started off praising Hamilton for trying to get Free Market Capitalism started in America, That he was an advocate for the poor (income equality) and that he was a founder of the new “nation’.

      Not a bit of this is true. Last first: it’s lower case ‘the’ for a reason; every founding document is specific in stating that each state was free and independent (do your own research and stop reading the gov’t funded historians). Next, Hamilton was a monarchist. He thought the masses had no right to vote…only the propertied should have rights; he supported secession from Englandbut not a change from the class system. Third, as a monarchist, he believed and traitorously worked to establish a mercantalist economic system (today termend crony capitalism) which favored the wealthy and cemented political power through patronage, cronyism and favoritism (bestowing monopolies); he worked to get the constitution passed whereas he believed it could be easily corrupted (it took over 150 years but his ideology has now been completely implemented); and, he got the first central bank established toward centralizing powwer and shifting wealth to his monarchist new england friends – he got Washingto to go along in a quid pro quo for a vote for Washington’s close to home D.C..

      The point: Where ever you turn…history has been rewritten to support central planning socialism. Free market Jefferson is always made a villian as a slave owner and the elitist anti-constitutionalist Hamilton is pedestalized as a great “man of the people” founder.

      • Am grateful for this, Don L. You make vital points.

        The market works. Central planning doesn’t. And yet central planning goes on – ever more popular among politicians and other ignoramuses even in America. Why? Because of the apparently ineradicable rot, labeled “compassion”, that Christianity planted in the Western mind. Not that central planning actually lifts people from poverty. On the contrary, it keeps the poor poor, and spreads poverty. But it makes the central planners feel good. Socialists bring as much self-righteous fervor to their cause as Christian missionaries to theirs.

        A few days ago I had reason to take down, – after some years – Karl Popper’s two volumes of “The Open Society and its Enemies”. (As you no doubt know, he was a close friend of Hayek’s. I seem to remember that each dedicated a book to the other. Though there were some points on which they mildly disagreed – conservatism for one. British conservatism. Popper praised it, Hayek wrote “Why I Am Not a Conservative”.) And to my delight I found a hand-written letter to me from K.P. folded inside one of the volumes. I had forgotten I had it. The contents of the letter are personal – not of general interest. But it reminded me of the days when I first read him and Hayek, and had the privilege of listening to Hayek speak. I especially remember the grand dinner that was given for him in a splendid London guildhall to celebrate his 80th birthday. Inter alia he told us on that occasion that Marx had taken his “labor theory of value” from Ricardo. Marx says in “Capital” that his whole thesis depends on it, and that if it is not true, then nothing that followed was true. Hayek said, that night, that he had come across a letter written by Ricardo in which he said that he had decided the theory was wrong. Hayek expressed surprise that Ricardo never published his second thoughts on the subject. Of course we know that the labor theory of value is wrong. It’s not even hard to refute. (Marx was no genius. A plagiarist, a parasite, a malicious hypocrite.) But it’s an interesting nugget of information that the inventor of the theory himself knew it to be erroneous.

        • liz

          Wow! Your anecdotes are as fascinating as your commentary!
          I’m reading “Requiem for Marx” – and that he’s no genius is right.
          His theory was incoherent and self contradictory. It’s made even more pathetic by the fact you reveal that it wasn’t even his to begin with!
          Its quite telling that his own character of “plagiarist, parasite, (and) malicious hypocrite” continue to be the outstanding character traits of his followers to this day – clearly on display for us in the entire Obama regime and their leftist base.
          Some legacy. The fact that it now dominates the world is a sad commentary on humanity.

          • Don L

            Great book. Jillian, long ago, turned me on to “Karl Marx: the Red Prussian” by Leopold Schwatzschild. Hard to find and pricey but what an eye opener as to who this low life scum was.

            People are never educated about free market capitalism. So, they can be made to believe it is what it isn’t. For over 100 years, in America, every student, from K to Phd, has been told free markets cause economic tragedy…the markets must be controlled. The lie is: the economy is so large and complex, only experts can manage it. When the experts screw up, it’s “animal spirits” (free people being free cannot be trusted). The markest must be controlled…it is never questioned. People seeking profits are the problem. All wealthy people got there by taking from others. That which works is made out to be the problem. It drives me mad when I hear the founders of Home depot spew socialist tripe…they have no idea about economics…they have guilt for succeeding…argh! Only central planning is offered as economics whaen is has nothing to do with economics qua economics.

            Enough. Domestic enemy: Shoot a duck. I have no idea what that means.

            • liz

              Yes, and Wal-Mart submits to Agenda 21 dictatorship. All their stuff must meet “sustainability” standards or some such nonsense.

            • Don L

              It is the nature of gove’t/politician extortion…feed my campaign/adhere to our program or else.

              Anti-trust is all about political means to destroy a competitor; by uncompetitive, but politically connected, firms.

              Microsoft never had lobbyists until it was sued under antitrust…now Gates dances to DC’s tunes as required.

              Dem or Repub…they all get their re-election funding through the same tactics. Until ‘Career’ is removed (term limits) from the idea of elected; until Senators once again (Repeal 17) actually represent their state and their state’s rights again; and, until the generator of corruption and the financial engine of socialisn is halted (End the FED) there is little to no chance of the American Republic regaining it’s health.

              Jefferson never understood why a ‘treasury’ was needed. An accounting department is all that is needed for the government established by the Constitution(accounts receivable and payable…Period) After all, government does not produce anything and financing projects is not a power granted to the general gov’t.

            • liz

              No, they grant that power to themselves, which turns them into a huge parasite.
              All those guys at the founding who protested that the Constitution didn’t go far enough to limit government were right, and their predictions came true in spades.

        • Don L

          I remember we had the discussion about Hayek and conservatives a few months back. Some leftie was trying to prove Hayek was against conservativvism. He had the comments out of context in both time period and geographical etymology.

          Mimicking Liz…great anecdotes. And, ditto…Wow!