[Comme Chez Soi is the most expensive restaurant in Brussels where I am told only the most senior Eurocrats can gain a table……]
Clausewitz stated that war was continuation of politics via another means. In an era where most feel that hard power no longer has relevancy and soft power is all, then the current play in Greece is a fascinating lab showing what happens now when war no longer is a political tool.
Germany and the troika as it approaches Greece is making a most serious error. They are not considering that that what they feel is the justification of their mandate to provide direction to Greece is based in the world of war, that economic might being the precursor to being able to prevail in war means they have the right to dictate terms to Greece.
But in fact, the relevancy of German GDP or German debt levels or German competiveness to Greece would mean all in terms of 60 German army divisions coming south, as it did in 1940 and 1941, but it is meaningless now.
In fact, though few seem to realize it, that in the “soft power” world Greece is, as far as policy design, every bit the equal to Germany. That in truth Germany has no leverage over Greece and in fact Greece as this massive borrower has huge leverage over Germany.
So Greece should realize this and come up with a game plan which empowers Greeks in this negotiation.
First, Greece has to understand a bit about what brought them here, who is providing leadership for them now, and decide where they wish to go towards. What brought Greece to this point is certain traits of cynicism and extreme local near tribal sensibilities tempted Greece to strike hard and massively at this surfeit of funding that came their way. And the funding had to come their way for Germany had to balance the accounts and fund Greece given the German predatory trade surplus. In many ways the funds that came Greece’s way are of the same “smell” as predatory lending funds for the US home markets came to broad swaths of questionable home markets in the USA. Germany could have played nice and instead of the lending could have made transfer payments to Greece, like sensible Canadians do as Ontario pays off Newfoundland for their internal trade imbalance. Germany could have said; “look, we came into the Euro with a bizarrely cheap DM conversions as we need to repair this East German mess. Let s do this for a decade and we will make transfer payments in the meantime. We will then settle out when done and help Greece with the transformation they require.” But no, like Greentree or Countrywide, Germans (and also to an important degree those sneaky fellow travelers like Finland (cell phones), Netherlands (high end goods) and others snuck into the deal) trumpeted virtue and attempted to dump on Greeks, counting on the obvious silliness and corruption of the Greeks to mask the true source of the debt load.
Now the Greek leadership, ever since that first dinner at Comme Chez Soi that they attended on the invite at their fellow Harvard or MIT or Georgetown alum (though French and oh so polished or tres chic) and which made their head spin, are like guys from Iowa who made it big in NYC – they will do anything to not go back and serve in Athens. They love Brussels. They love the French. Finally they are recognized for the true intellectual giants that they are despite their bushy mustaches. Finally they are Europeans! No, they are Supra-Europeans! They are “New Men” of the third way, a way beyond ugly back rooms in Athens and that rather embarrassing stint washing dishes for the Porcelain Club dinners in Cambridge, MA. They had finally transcended Greekhood! And they will sell all the islands of the Aegean and betray any Greeks and even sell Greece itself to maintain these new sparkling privileges. They are never going back. They are betraying Greece and in the most insidious way possible by first fooling and betraying themselves. All for the pressed duck at Chez Soi.
Greeks should immediately see that unless they too can get a seat at Chez Soi (they cannot), they better dump all the current leadership. A pretty good way is to declare that due to the emergency - and of course there will be errors for many, but this is an emergency – anyone educated in the great graduate schools of the USA and also served in any function for the EU machinery in Brussels will be locked up for the next few months. Sorry – but the spirit of Demosthenes calls for their sacrifice.
Now what to do, and what are the Greek strengths in the bargaining.
The Greeks should ask themselves if they still wish for a federal Eurozone which they will be a member of and share in a common currency. And if so what form should that EZ take. Obviously the current form sucks and requires great changes. Greece should understand, that as likely the weaker sister in the EZ for decades to come, the EZ should be in a form that empowers minority rights. It is not hard to define the optimal form – just take advantage of the USA education with a million causalities from the Civil War and what has transpired there since– for the USA Civil War was all about, because of their embrace of the odious system of slavery, weaker member states who had to face more populous and economically powerful states and still divide the pie with any equality. Greece has a huge leg up here as they don’t have to do a back flip to dump anything like slavery – maybe do a bit of work on local level political corruption and brush up on civitas, but that’s it. Greece then obviously has only one path or form which would make the EZ bearable and workable for Greeks (and really all PIIGS) and that is to have one of the governing bodies of the EZ which would have full equivalency of power to any other EZ governance bodies but be an upper chamber with the same number of deputies or senators or whatever they are called per each EZ member state. And that to maintain that equivalency requires a supreme judiciary to define and maintain that equivalency between units, and to judge things, this judiciary needs a constitution to work over. So Greeks should determine that the only acceptable form the EZ can take is where one of the governance bodies has to be an upper house with equal representation per state, no matter how small or large that state is and that no other arm of the government can have more power.
So once the objective is realized, the Greeks have to table this as a nonnegotiable requirement for any discussion.
Second, the Greeks must insist on the sanctity and priority of Europe upon itself. There is absolutely no roll for any suprasovereign institution like the IMF. For if the IMF is involved , some will not like the outcome and the presence of the IMF forever weakens the binding of the agreement outcome and justifies insurgency.
Next, the Greeks require as nonnegotiable that all EZ members form the body that negotiates the settlement, replacing the troika, and that all representatives of this body be made up of one per member country, and that this member be authorized to negotiate based upon a legislative ruling. And that this member in the forum not be the executive of the country. No Merkel, no Papademos. Of course this forum becomes the seed for the “upper house” senate and begins to set precedent for federal empowerment.
Then, the Greeks should insist as nonnegotiable that any solution or remedy be bonded for performance equally by all members of the EZ and that any application of the remedy in terms of reorganizing Greece procedures or governance become adopted in exactly the same manner by all members. Then Greece would then comply with the outcome.
Crisis solved and the basis for a federal EZ laid in the doing.
But all the above is required on a nonnegotiable basis – what leverage or bargaining strength does Greece have to gain this forum?
The most important factor is Clausewitz is off the table. There are no 60 divisions of German soldiers headed towards Greece (this time) and Greece can thereby make certain the above forum occurs. Greeks can do this by making the alternative so loathsome, so unpleasant for the rest of the EZ that there is compliance. Since there is no possibility of a war of enforcement or a punitive adventure, it is not difficult for Greece to design such actions. But it is crucial that the current leadership not be the ones to level the threat nor the design – for Chez Soi calls always. Also the choice cannot be a threat but communicated with firmness and great clarity and assured implementation if the above forum is not provided. This must be the financial and economic equivalent of a thermo nuke for this is in essence a policy of assured mutual destruction – MAD.
The MAD weapon:
Irrevocably and completely at Noon February 9th, 2012 Greece will enact the following:
- All Greek debt held by institutions without at least 30% Greek ownership will be repudiated;
- All Greek debt held by the ECB or any non-Greek EACB will be repudiated;
- All property domiciled in Greece that is not held by at least 60% Greek ownership will be registered as “foreign held”;
- All such foreign held property will have a surcharge tax of 10% of asset value levied as of January 1st 2012 which if not paid in 5 business days will be forfeitured to the Greek state;
- All such foreign held property will be levied an annual tax of 8%;
- All Euro denominated assets, whether cash or financial or property, will be exchanged for drachma at the rate of 1: E0.0050;
- All Euro denominated debt, no matter where the domicile owed by Greek institutions or citizens will be converted to drachma at the rate of 1:E0.0050;
- Greece will immediately withdraw from NATO;
- No right of passage will be provided to any non-Greek military vehicles;
- Greece will immediately require visas for all other EU member citizens;
- Greece will provide a 0% corporate tax rate for all new ventures for 10 years;
- Greece will lower the corporate tax rate to 10%;
- Greece will lower the capital gains tax rate to 10%;
- Greece will abolish estate tax;
- Greece will impose a 25% flat tax on all income with no deductions for 10 years.
- Greece can only rescind the above and revert to the Euro and the EZ provided a E250 billion subsidization fund is made available and the above repudiation remains.
As soon as Germany realize that the above will happen without the federal forum and elimination of the troika and the subsuming of Germany current approach to only one voice among 17, Germany will comply and then do as they always should have done and seek consensus via the democracy that Greece first presented to the world in the days of the Demos.
I will even go further. The above isn't far fetched and I strongly feel that ether in a hodge podge and chaotic fashion or with leadership and vision the above will occur. It is far better for the EZ if the forum approach becomes the pathway applied now. These swaps between ECB and EFSF and so on and so forth are canards, ruses.
What is striking is that the Chez Soi sell out is not Greek specific but is actually infecting all of the EZ. In fact it can be perceived that under the smoke and sparks of the specifics of the Greece situation, a general supra-sovereign putsch is underway and that Merkel , assuming she is dedicated to the German constitution, is a dupe of this Chez Soi cabal. That “something happened” over the last decade where the likes of Jean Monnet and Adenauer were replaced by a subtle but very powerful stateless plutocracy. Chez Soi diners all. What I proposed and the logic I table was actually the expected development and outcome for the formation of the United States of Europe. That only a crisis like that occurring now would wake folks up and get them past their deadly and inefficient and destructive tribalism of area nationalism. I think the crisis has achieved that objective, but what Jean Monnet did not plan for or expect is this vast organized international cabal of stateless, proudly so by the way, plutocrats who wish to simply abolish sovereignty and federalism entire and impose a plutocracy. That the descendants of Marxism and other corporatists would use the opaque confusion and complexity of deconstrustionalism of the French with the neo-Adorno Habermasian ‘deliberative democracy” and basically carry off a putsch. With Clausewitz out of the room very strange mutations have occurred indeed.