GREEK TRAGEDY: Austerity…up to but not including the military and other elites

Greek citizens may suffer, but the country’s defence armoury is inviolate

Reversing rapidly away from pledges to try and hold out against more austerity measures, the Athens government of Antonis Samaras is now looking at  further cuts in pensions, health care and nursery schools. But already highly-paid military officers remain 100% untouched by salary reductions. The same is true of tax collectors, and even more of those working in the Greek Treasury and legal departments – who have seen rises in both pay and benefits since last January. As with every society, the powerful pay less.

Word reaches me now that Prime Minister Samaras is disappointed in his Ministers’ failure to drive the Troika tank of socio-economic destruction forward. To date, they have only agreed on (not made)  €5.6 billion of deeper cuts…roughly 40% of what the Troikanauts are demanding….the continuation of which ensures that German exports will flourish.

Yet despite this dilemma of trying to squeeze ten litres out of a Krono beer bottle, Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos has told Prime Minister Samaras that there will not be any cuts in the “special salaries” received by military personnel….or else. Samaras has meekly acquiesced in face of this ultimatum. In January 2012, despite the country’s doctors treating emergencies only, chronic shortages of medication, pharmacies unpaid, and bus drivers on strike,  the Greek government remained the largest buyer of German weapons in the World.

Everyone from Zero Hedge to Kathimerini fears this kind of thing may presage a military coup – or at the very least signal the continuing hegemony of the armed forces in Greek politics. But myself, I’m not so sure. What Panayiotopoulos and the officer class recognise (and trade upon) is the growing strategic importance of Greece in South eastern Europe. Be it for the protection of rare and precious metals and energy sources, or the provision of a bulwark against Turkish, Russian or Chinese expansionism, Athens knows that either Berlin or Washington is determined to wind up with a Greece bristling with the very latest in military armoury. And quietly in the background, Mossad too is providing reliable assurances of military generosity to the Hellenic Republic.

Whatever Greece does, for the foreseeable future it will remain the victim of banker power and the geopolitical ambitions of others. My view is still that the rejection of EU pauperisation in favour of American and Israeli investment is by far the best route for Greece – both as a sovereign debtor or a nation of put-upon citizens. But the all-powerful corruption of Venizelos, Samaras and Brussels stands in the way of that happier outcome.

Meanwhile, Antonis Samaras continues to look for €12bn of savings in a country already running on empty. Debt inspectors from the Troika are due to return to Athens next week. There will be more confusing noises. But not a single Greek Government politician will call the bluff of Berlin-am-Brussels, the Troika/EU Commission  dithering will continue, and the North-South divide in the eurozone will enlarge still further.

There is, as always, a horrible inevitability to it all.



65 thoughts on “GREEK TRAGEDY: Austerity…up to but not including the military and other elites

  1. Perhaps someone might ask that nice Mr. Obama to bring his presidential election date forward… week would be fine, and then we can get on with sorting the annoyingly parochial matter of Europe.

  2. They push it too much and they provoke it too much so finally it is inevitable all these Collaborators and Traitors will be hanged at GOUDI.

    Soon it will be “anomaly” not only in Hellas but all over, they pursue it and they looking for it.

  3. My view is still that the rejection of EU pauperisation in favour of American and Israeli investment is by far the best route for Greece

    I am sure it is, but given the Greek government’s ability to do nothing about anything so far, would it surprise anyone that they did more of the same?

  4. There must be a way to spin that as good news and a “victory for the euro” (snigger).

  5. You may be right regarding Greek military spending to become a bulwark against foreign expansionism.

    More generally, cutting spending on non-governmental programmes and all the rest of it is exactly what all British govts do when the money runs out. The one thing they never do is seriously cut spending on government itself. Same thing is happening now under the coalition. Yet cutting spending on itself is where the first cuts should always be made. Firstly because there is so much waste, unnecessary headcount and far too much big government, and secondly it would send a message to the electorate that “we’re all in this together”. But apparently we aren’t.

  6. now 6.933 – right let’s have a summit then, that usually calms things down a bit

  7. Of course not.
    Same as the Doctor saying “this isn’t going to hurt” ,when
    he means this isn’t going to hurt ME.

  8. As Winston Smith says, of course not, BT. You are forgetting who the stakeholders in government are: the political class, government itself, big banks, big business, the quangocracy, political cronies and sycophants and ‘national’ institutions, roughly in that order. Neither you or I, nor the man next door, figure in that list, thus we pay for them to be protected. I am sure you have at some time seen the examples of evacuation lists to be used had there been a nuclear war. They may be fifty years out of date but they would be very little different today.

    This is not something specific to Britain, it is the same everywhere, including Greece. As to the the Greek military, I think defence is probably not the reason for their advantage, I favour the idea that, like Egypt, the Greek military remains a powerful force behind the scenes that is very high in the stakeholders list. Not perhaps at the very top as is the case with Egypt, but definitely in the first tier.

  9. @Chris Loughrey
    Get them very soon.UN treaty on gun control to be
    signed Clinton on July 27th.
    Due to an earlier ratified treaty it become US law unless
    specifically vetoed by the Senate or POTUS.
    We know that’s not going to happen.They will ignore
    the constitution(whats new) and come for our weapons.
    Hope you’ve got plenty of Ammo,I think is going to be
    If the US military does not move against this,I think an
    imminent civil war/revolution is on.

  10. “the horrible inevitability”.

    Or a slow motion train wreck of twisted and mutilated ideologies driven by insatiable power. It could be argued that Greece and the way it is currently being treated is already out of the EZ but not until the last bit of fiscal flesh has been picked from the bones will it then be declared so.

  11. @kfc: Turning on the ECB printing machine to monetise EZ debts is *exactly* what we’ve been predicting for several months. It’s just a matter of when Draghi finds the ON switch…

  12. Totally agree…and the political filth elites wonder why they are held in such low esteem. They are no better than organised criminals.

  13. @BT: Indeed it is. Maybe difficult for Merkel though, elections on the horizon,
    or maybe it’s the spin machine running on full throttle again?

  14. @Sitc: Indeed, a very good article. I wonder if there’ll ever be an investigation of how Mr Blair was able to bid for the Games which have ended up in creating the biggest ever security operation outside of wartime, huge travel chaos and widespread inconvenience for residents of London …all without a single voter ever having a say-so.
    Did I mention the massive costs which will be funded by a mixture of Londoners (via Council Tax) and other taxpayers in general?

  15. Its amazing so few of the “connected inner ring”have been wacked!Considering the amount of arms floating around Greece it can only be a matter of time.

  16. @kfc: Indeed … but Merky’s Bundesbank doesn’t have a controlling vote on the ECB board nowadays. If Draghi goes ahead – and argues that the Euro will collapse without printing – the worst she can do is either threaten to send in the panzers or threaten to quit the Euro. The latter action could cause her as many political problems as quietly agreeing to ECB monetisation.

  17. Sir,
    You didn’t reply….so I’ll ask you again …
    I learnt my manners at a Swiss Finishing School for upper crust highly qualified attractive ladies….

    July 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm


    Sorry to hear about your dog; how is Mrs Slog by the way?

  18. John Ward
    July 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    My Karma has run over my Dogma.

    The real gemz, It was a joke.

  19. The Coalition will be spending MORE in cash terms in 2015 than in 2010. The ‘cuts’ are more an illusion than anything else. As a friend remarked last week ‘if you are being pilloried for ‘cuts’ when actually there are no cuts, you might as well get on and actually ‘Cut’ properly’. Seems Osborne and the wishy-washy LibDems don’t have the bottle for this. If they did ‘cut’ I am sure the economy would actually begin to rebound far more strongly than it is at present.

  20. Quote from BT :”They are no better than organised criminals”.
    Grammar check – did you mean to use the word ‘organised’ – in terms of Government ?…*laughing* .

    The militery build up is as you say John, a strategic ploy by many. The USA and EU are looking to sleep with the Greeks in case of any little surprises from the East. Israel is also leaning in due to the ‘lovers tiff ‘about sinking boats in Turkish waters. I did mention yesterday in a thread the Germans have no flies landing them – Ofcourse the Germans will lend money or give ‘credit’ for purchases to the skint, bewildered Greeks for munition. Psst has anyone told the Greeks they are not a target in a war? anyhoo, no matter. it could be that just-in-case sales pitch. The Germans had better watch out, they could be arming their future enemy. But My own take on this would be: the political class fearing for their lives, they need a strong army to kill off any uprising or revolution.

  21. I really don’t understand why so many foreigners looking at the Greek situation from outside, are so obsessed with military intervention. After 1830 (independence and establishment of modern Greek state), Greece has been a parliamentary democracy for most of the times. We are not Turkey or Latin America. If military takes the matter in it’s own hands, it means that things here have turned really – and i mean really bad. Chaotic. This could happen in any western country (even UK or US) if things turn out really nasty.

  22. “But My own take on this would be: the political class fearing for their lives, they need a strong army to kill off any uprising or revolution.”

    That has been my assumption too. If proven correct, the UK government ongoing reduction in armed forces is going to be yet another illustration of them not being able to see beyond their collective noses

  23. @ Andy

    My recollection of the public mood when the present bunch of incompetents cobbled together their power base, was that cuts were inevitable. How this lot have squandered that real acceptance is almost unbelieveable. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of…. well you know.

  24. Pingback: John Ward – Greek Tragedy : Austerity … Up To But Not Including The Military And Other Elites – 18 July 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  25. @NM: From the article related to the link: ’emit a beam of pain-inducing tones.’
    Sounds like the Question Time in Parliament to me….

  26. Gerry, My Karma has run over my Dogma.

    John Ward, July 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

    July 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm


    Sorry to hear about your dog; how is Mrs Slog by the way?

    My apologies for any misunderstanding. It seems that Trolls can’t put three words together without needing help.

    Remember chum, those who can, blog: those who can’t, troll.

    John Ward, July 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

  27. Jwoo,
    I tend to agree, but remember you have the BBC constantly shoving the ‘aren’t the cuts terrible’ line down our throats because day in day out. It is part of the BBCs anti conservative agenda, followed by others including this blog. People forget quite quickly. The fact remains that the States finances are in one hell of a mess and will take a generation to sort out. And I for one will never live to see the debt ratio back to where it was when the Conservatives left office in 1997.

    But what I find so depressing is that even very modest attempts at tax simplification such the famous ‘pasty tax’ have cause so much agro. I believe we need radical and major tax reform, but that looks simply impossible.

  28. ‘Iran blamed after seven killed in bomb attack on Israeli bus in Bulgaria ‘
    Of course, if you want to start an unjust war, oops, hush my mouth..Blame those who you want invade….(Oh, and engineer a good reason for doing so)
    Not that that is the American way………No Sirreeee..

  29. Be patient,wait a few weeks,equities(the only inflation hedge)are about to become 15 percent cheaper.

  30. @Jwoo: “Squandered” is exactly the right word. Perhaps that will be the epitaph of this coalition govt.

    @Andy: Absolutely agree with all you say, except I hope you live a long life :-)

  31. We have a Congress and POTUS that ignore the constitution.
    They will use this treaty to get gun confiscation.Probably start
    by cutting of Ammo supplies first.
    Legal is decided by who holds the larger and better weapon.
    More so now than ever.
    The West as a whole is about to lose all its veneer of
    civilization because it can longer afford it.
    The elite is after complete control,they have to get the guns first.

  32. What is this ?
    Dutch parochial musings or….?

    July 18, 2012 at 6:48 am

    [Off Topic]

    Dang. Jer know wot? Wot I fink. If I fink it den uvvers fink it too. I knows dat coz I got brians. I got lots of dem. They are all sitting in my head. If I need one, it glows from the effort. Then it sits up and I fink.

    Clevver folk dey fink, right? Coz clevver folk all think same fings. That makes me clevver coz I fink wot I fink.

    Dijjerknow jer pushes de button and jer gets letters out! It makes me look clevver. Trollikins is good at pushing buttens. It takes lots of time. Cross out. Hard workk.

    Eat blue food terday. Sit on floor eat. Good. Good to eat. Must eat. Makes yer fink. There is lots of food coz it cums in three cullers. Dang! my brian hurts.

  33. Further musings on an earlier thread regarding causality and doctrine, you probably know the tune. Apologies in advance to all who struggle with naked buddhism:

    My mind is in tune with the Ocean
    My soul’s liberated, set free
    My karma ran over my dogma
    Nirvana is waiting for me

    (reincarnation chorus, optional)

    Bring back, bring back
    Oh bring back a body for me, for me
    (no bodhisattva jokes, please)

  34. The idea of a geopolitical winner arising from the smoking hole now know as Greece is a stretch. Greece can be better understood as the canary in the European mine shaft. After the canary dies the EU will set up a commission to determine who will carry out the postmortem. This will end when a German court rules that the canary is “just sleeping” and needs to get back to work.

  35. @H…..b: Ah yes. I’m now thinking of Buddha. Is this a message from the great guide for me to plan a trip to Thailand?

  36. Quite so. I thought these insinuations about Greek military hegemony ridiculous nonsense.

  37. Bill, more or less, that’s how it is. Regarding EZ reforms, Greece is indeed the canary. If the stubborn Greeks bend, it’s a very good sign that others will too…
    Regarding the Middle East chess play, Greece is a small pawn, like it was in WW2. A pawn sitting on a strategic square. Therefore, a pawn that everybody will try to manipulate according to their plan.

  38. “Remember chum, those who can, blog: those who can’t, troll.”

    That was Mr Ward’s response to ‘Just Sayin’ who happened to disagree with a point he was making.

    It struck me then as rude and unnecessary, resulting in an equally offensive response from Just Sayin revolving around medications.

    Odd that you’ve chosen to recycle it Gemma but having done so, it does give an opportunity to use it as an insight into how the autocratic nature of blogging corrupts the author of the blog regardless of any protestations to the contrary. The blog/troll insult, derived no doubt from the ‘those that do, do, those that don’t teach’ family of slurs suggests that unless you are of equal stature to the author, you must by the nature of the sleight, be below him.

    Obviously those with psychophantic tendancies would argue otherwise, their self imposed but wrongly placed blinkers obscuring what is in front of their eyes, but that’s the same in most walks of life.

    Those that are struck by a thought of good riddence once I say goodbye, would do well to look in the mirror and reflect on what’s being reflected.


  39. I speak of it in the sense of relief from the suffering of the Greek people, the Troika and austerity are killing Greece. I believe it needs to default and start again from scratch. There weren’t any of these issues before the Euro and the EU came along were there?

  40. @BT: Saffron is far more congenial than Green or Brown. It may be time for a visit to Teresopolis, I once spent some time there, or perhaps somewhere nearer, to get kitted out.. I could do with a spot of wandering myself but the opportunity is unlikely to arise in the foreseeable I fear.

  41. @She Knows

    well, let us begin with looking at what was going on, shall we?

    Whatever my character faults may be, they remain part of me. I of all the people here probably know and understand my failings better than most. When you learn a new language in adult life you must first learn your own. That involves not only the language but the culture and thinking that it springs from. Do that a few times and you become aware of things that most others are not. It is also one of the reasons for the famed British inability to learn foreign tongues: they famously do not want to look at the deeper parts of their own navels. Be assured, I have seen it all.

    Some of my views reflect this. Others reflect a knowledge of European culture that is appallingly lacking in the UK. The British make a broad assumption that all Europe thinks as they do. That is an error of the first order. Whilst logical thinking is the prominent tool of execution in modern Europe, the assumptions on which it is based differ wildly across European cultures. Indeed it differs within them too. Starting with two different understandings of the facts and you wind up with two different answers, both of which are deduced perfectly logically. Hence the Germans thinking that austerity works – after all, it has worked for them. Thus far at least. Hence you have the British thinking that printing money works – after all, it has worked for them. Thus far at least. That neither are right, and neither are wrong is the problem that we face in Modern Europe. The bigger problem is that nobody can think of anything else to do in the circumstances since their assumptions remain the same.

    It is those people who have the imagination necessary to assume different starting points who will have some different answers. Sadly, they are very rare. Even rarer are those who both understand these faculties, and rarer still, those that can impart them. Proper teaching, as any who has been through school will know, is more than just imparting the knowledge. Inspiring children is a forgotten art it seems.

    So when it comes to being trolled by some witless and spineless creature that has little in the way of imagination save being able to work out where the CTRL button and the C button are, it gets a little galling.

  42. @H…..b: I can’t imagine what kitting out one can get in Teresopolis other than umbrellas! I have also been there and its bigger sister Petropolis. Both suffered heavy landslide property damage last year during the rains. But there’s no Buddha to be found there as far as I know.

  43. Pingback: GREEK TRAGEDY: Austerity…up to but not including the military and other elites [The Slog] « Mktgeist blog

  44. @BT: Teresopolis because it’s one of the few towns I’ve visited that’s even on the same continent as you are. I think you’re right, it would be difficult to get arrested there never mind kitted out for Thailand. Buddha, however, is everywhere.

  45. @kfc: i understand your angle now. Still, a mil intervention is not likely unless:
    a) political and social situation go totally chaotic (eg. an uncontrolled Grexit that brings internal violence).
    b) there is an external attack from a country that tries to avail of Greece’s weak moment (Turkey is the likely candidate).
    I do hope that things don’t go that bad, even if we are set for an erase/rewind event.

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