A problem called Germany

Boaventura de Sousa Santos*

Europe’s biggest problem is Germany, not Greece. Just over two years ago (May, 2013) I published a piece entitled “The German Diktat”, in which I listed the justifications given by Germany at the beginning of the First World War for its atrocities against Belgium, a small country that had refused to go along with Germany’s bellicose plans.

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Greece, the Sacrificial Lamb


ATHENS — AS the Greek crisis proceeds to its next stage, Germany, Greece and the triumvirate of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission (now better known as the troika) have all faced serious criticism. While there is plenty of blame to share, we shouldn’t lose sight of what is really going on. I’ve been watching this Greek tragedy closely for five years, engaged with those on all sides. Having spent the last week in Athens talking to ordinary citizens, young and old, as well as current and past officials, I’ve come to the view that this is about far more than just Greece and the euro.

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The Syriza Syndrome and Italy’s Political Establishment

By Frederika Randall – The Nation

Why doesn’t Italy, with its strong left-wing traditions, have a Podemos like Spain?

Rome—Italians were anything but indifferent this spring when the Syriza government in Greece decided to defy the dogma of European austerity. Syriza’s natural allies here, those to the left of the Partito Democratico (PD), were exuberant: At last there was going to be a real battle against the neoliberal consensus.

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Faith Leaders Issue Global “Call to Conscience” on Climate

By A. D. McKenzie

PARIS, Jul 24 2015 (IPS) – “We received a garden as our home, and we must not turn it into a wilderness for our children.”

These words by Cardinal Peter Turkson summed up the appeal launched by dozens of religious leaders and “moral” thinkers at the Summit of Conscience for the Climate, a one-day gathering in Paris earlier this week aimed at mobilising action ahead of the next United Nations climate change conference (COP 21) scheduled to take place in the French capital in just over four months.

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Fatal tests

Boaventura de Sousa Santos*

Europe has become a laboratory of the future. What is being tested there should be cause for concern for all democrats and particularly for everyone on the left. Two experiments are currently underway in this laboratory – and hence supposedly controlled – environment. The first experiment is a stress test on democracy, its guiding hypothesis being as follows: a strong country’s democratic will can undemocratically trump the democratic will of a weak country without making a dent in the normalcy of Europe’s political life.

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By Roberto Savio*

Greece was the civilization where drama and farce were established as forms of theatre. The negotiations with the Eurozone were a drama for the Greek people, and a farce for the European leaders. In fact, it is a dramatic for all, that this brings to an end of the most radical dream after the Second World War. Let us see why. It will be a little long, but without examining a little history it is impossible to understand how we came to this situation.

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Love and hate between Greece and the west

Tony Barber – Financial Times

In 2010, the year of their nation’s first €110bn international rescue, plenty of Greeks understood that the state and citizenry had lived for decades beyond their means. The medicine of austerity and economic reform would be bitter, but it had to be swallowed. The paramount need, as for earlier generations of Greeks, was to stay on the path of modernisation and a European identity.

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The Turkish Enigma

George Friedman* – Geopolitical Weekly

In my “Net Assessment of the World,” I argued that four major segments of the European and Asian landmass were in crisis: Europe, Russia, the Middle East (from the Levant to Iran) and China. Each crisis was different; each was at a different stage of development. Collectively the crises threatened to destabilize the Eurasian landmass, the Eastern Hemisphere, and potentially generate a global crisis. They do not have to merge into a single crisis to be dangerous.

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Raising of Cuban flag in Washington signals restoration of US-Cuba relations

Paul Lewis – The Guardian

Foreign minister conducts ceremony during his first trip to the US

Bruno Rodríguez: embargo must end and Guantánamo must be returned

Washington – Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba have been officially restored, with Cuba’s foreign minister taking the hugely symbolic step of raising his country’s flag at a newly designated embassy in Washington later on Monday.

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Europe’s Impossible Dream

Paul Krugman – The New York Times

There’s a bit of a lull in the news from Europe, but the underlying situation is as terrible as ever. Greece is experiencing a slump worse than the Great Depression, and nothing happening now offers hope of recovery. Spain has been hailed as a success story, because its economy is finally growing — but it still has 22 percent unemployment. And there is an arc of stagnation across the continent’s top: Finland is experiencing a depression comparable to that in southern Europe, and Denmark and the Netherlands are also doing very badly.

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ECB Joins IMF In Call For Greek Debt Cut, Schaeuble Shoots It Down (Again)

Submitted by Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge
Despite earlier commenting that Greek debt sustainability is hard without a write off, German FinMin Schaeuble just told German lawmakers bluntly that there will be no Greek debt cut. What is problematic for Merkel and her minions is that Mario Draghi just confirmed what The IMF has been ‘secretly’ leaking – that it is “uncontroversial that Greek debt relief is necessary.” As this confusion reigns, The Eurogroup has issued a statement “welcoming the adoption by the Greek parliament” of the measures imposed upon the Greek people to drive them further into depression.

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The Real Promise of the US-Iran Agreement

By the Editors – The Nation

Yes, it will prevent Iran from developing nukes. But it could also transform the Middle East, bringing order and peace to a region falling into chaos.

Iran and the P5+1 powers have signed a potentially historic agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. The accord is a victory for all who favor patient, sometimes frustrating diplomacy over those who favor confrontation, even war. But the latest battle over Iran?policy has just begun. The agreement will face ferocious opposition in Congress from neoconservative hawks, including some Democrats, and from Washington’s allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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The Greek crisis is shaking the IMF to its core

By Jamie Robertson – BBC World News

The Greek crisis, having shaken the eurozone to its core, is likely to have a similar seismic effect on another massive institution, the IMF.

The International Monetary Fund’s exposure is small compared with the Eurozone.

In the 2010 bailout it paid out over €20.7bn and in the following 2012 rescue it contributed €11.6bn

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With the Nuclear Deal, the US and Iran Start a New Chapter

By Ali Gharib – The Nation

Diplomacy prevailed over warmongering. But reactionary forces on all sides are still trying to scuttle the deal.

Just two years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still the president of Iran. His crude manner and belligerent obstinacy inspired threats from the West—from Congress and from its allies in Israel’s right-wing government. A few years before, a massive Atlantic cover story had declared a 50-50 chance of war. It seemed all but assured that the probability of such a confrontation, universally regarded as a disastrous proposition by anyone who didn’t have an ideological commitment to it, could only increase. Those were dark days.

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How America used banjo diplomacy to soothe Iran

By Jonathan Broder – Newsweek

Owensboro, Kentucky, is best known for its barbecue, bourbon and bluegrass – not to mention native son Johnny Depp. Every year, the town hosts food and music festivals. But in May 2009, a different sort of attraction arrived: the Obama administration quietly brought in a group of Iranian musicians to learn about American folk music.

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A Humiliating Deal for Greece

By John Cassidy -The New Yorker

As Europe’s leaders return home from Brussels, after a marathon negotiating session that kept Greece in the eurozone at great cost to the country’s political sovereignty, the political landscape of the continent looks different, and not a little ominous. In forcing Alexis Tsipras’s government into abject surrender—over the entreaties of some of its neighbors, France in particular—Germany has, for perhaps the first time since reunification, in 1990, blatantly exerted its power on the European stage.

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