The founding purpose of the EU was to end the cycle of war in Europe and provide peace, security and prosperity for its people. Viewed over the period since it’s foundation in 1951, it has unequivocally succeeded. War between its member states has become almost unimaginable, countries emerging from dictatorship have been welcomed into the fold and long-term prosperity has risen overall.
All of which makes it harder to understand why the EU’s current leaders are determined to inflict the kind of conditions on Greece that led to the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s. The austerity programme they have imposed on the country over the last five years has caused a 25% decrease in GDP, 25% unemployment (including 60% youth unemployment), widespread destitution and a massive increase in suicides. This is exactly the sort of scenario the EU was created to avoid.
The objective of this deliberately inflicted economic depression was to make Greece pay its debts. But the inevitable result of wreaking destruction on the Greek economy is that those debts have increased and are now impossible to repay. This brutal reality has been obfuscated by using terms such as “Greek Bailout”. We should be clear what this actually means. Greece has received almost no bailout money. Instead, most of it has gone directly – yet again – to the big international banks to rescue them from their own stupidity.
These banks made loans that even a bare minimum of due diligence would have demonstrated could never be repaid. Their partners in this fiasco were successive Greek governments, the most culpable of which were centre-right ones led by the New Democracy party. Their sister organisations elsewhere in Europe are now stridently demanding vengeance, notably the CDU in Germany, which is leading the charge against Greece.
Syriza, the current left-wing governing party in Greece, did not create this situation. Rather, they were elected by the Greek people in a desperate attempt to find someone to defend them against the horrors being unleashed by the EU and IMF.
Syriza’s biggest mistake has been to believe naively that a strong democratic mandate might mean something to their EU negotiating partners and enable them to agree a programme designed to revive rather than ravage Greece’s economy. But the EU has been impervious to the democratic will of the Greek people and continued to impose its catastrophically failed policies regardless.
These policies have produced the grotesque spectacle of Greek pensioners being robbed of their pensions to pay rich bankers in Frankfurt and elsewhere. Some of these elderly Greeks are the very same people who suffered under the last German-led carnage imposed on their country; the occupation during World War II. There is no wonder that many of them are now reflecting on the oldest lesson of European history: when the Germans get too powerful, trouble inevitably seems to follow.