My head is spinning. I mean as in The Exorcist big time head spinning.
Anxiety over what will happen to their country is front and center on every Greek’s mind. It’s been that way for quite some time, though only reluctantly verbalized. A sense of fait accompli, nationalism, denial, or some other coping device may have contributed to hesitancy at expressing such thoughts to outsiders, but that’s no longer the case; many now openly share their doubts, concerns, and fears.
Just this week The New York Times published a photo essay with quotes from residents of Hydra, an island close by Athens. I found it sad, but accurate. Few see a happy ending anytime soon, only a choice between bad and worse.
As I said, sad.
I saw a quote in another NY Times article a few days back attributed to the head of a European think tank commenting on the EU’s attitude toward Greece: “‘If it were not for the geopolitical context,’ Mr. Lafond said, ‘they would have let them leave long ago.’”
Sadly, I think he’s right. And in that rests what is emerging as the most likely scenario for Greece.
It seems that every political pundit, economist, journalist, TV commentator, and blogger has hit the keyboards with prognostications and predictions on where Greece is headed and its implications to the world. I bet folks are playing the odds in Vegas on the outcome—they certainly are on the Athens stock market in a manner generating such wild swings with every pronouncement on the subject by a government minister that were it a US market, the SEC would be up to its eyeballs in investigations.
But that’s a subject for another time.
So, what do I see as the likely outcome?
Well, for a while I saw a contender for the title of “most likely scenario” being Greece’s Prime Minister announcing he’d fought the good fight against the western hordes, but in order to save his country he reluctantly had no choice but to accept the “odious” terms and give in to the demanded reforms. It would involve him charging forward on a white stallion away from his far left party roots to emerge as the leader of a new centrist government.
But that fairy tale seems over. It would require the Prime Minister to ostracize the extremists in his party and he’s shown no willingness to do so.
Which brings me to where I see things headed….
Assuming this grand kabuki theater of under-a-deadline negotiations continues to drag on…and that seems likely with further talks adjourned until today…I think we’ll see the West throwing up its hands and adopting an approach that keeps a lid on things, doing only what’s minimally necessary to protect its geopolitical interests.
In other words, keep the patient on life support. Give Greece what it needs not to default on its interest payments, allow the Greek government to claim victory for domestic purposes, and let the new government’s policies run their course on the people who elected it. If the West truly believes that its proposals are better for Greece in the long run than the Greek government’s approach, that’s the West’s smartest play, for it allows Greece to fail to emerge from crisis by reason of its own choices, serving as a stark warning to any EU member state that might otherwise be tempted to consider adopting Greece’s policies and negotiating tactics.
It’s not a pleasant outcome, and one I pray doesn’t happen, but it’s how I’m seeing things today. Or at least this morning, in sunny beautiful Greece—where tourists are, and will undoubtedly remain, blissfully unaware of all of this.
By the way, to end on a lighter note, does the world know that obviously separated-at-birth siblings, IMF Chair Christine Lagarde and Greece Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis,
have a sister?