Greece’s Referendum: The Price of Five Years of Cowardice – BY SPIEGEL

 

 

Much of Europe is outraged by Alexis Tsipras’ decision to hold a referendum on reforms in Greece. But how did the euro zone allow an economically irrelevant country of 11 million to bring the common currency to the brink? Through cowardice.

You had it coming, Europe. And how!

 

The decision over the weekend by the Greek government to hold a referendum on Sunday on the reform measures being demanded by its creditors threatens — within just a few days — to destroy the illusions of five years of policies aimed at saving the euro. The easy way out is to cast blame on Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his government.

After months of negotiations and just before the expiration of the deadline in question, the Greek government has now decided that it is unable to take responsibility for a clear “yes” or “no” to the results of negotiations on its own. Why didn’t the Greeks says weeks ago that they wanted to put the negotiations up for a vote? That would have been the democratic way to go about it. In the very best case scenario, Tsipras’ about-face on the referendum is a populist move (assuming the decision was taken with any political calculation). In the worst case scenario, it is a cowardly one (if the head of government got cold feet about making such a difficult decision).

But “constant cowardice” is also the answer to another question — namely how the rest of the euro-zone members, Germany above all, could have allowed a situation to develop in which the erratic leaders of an economically insignificant country with a population of just 11 million people could bring the currency union to the verge of collapse?

Protracting the Problems

For the past five years, politicians within the euro zone, under German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unofficial leadership, have shirked painful decisions that might have helped to solve the debt crisis in Greece. The consequence has been that the problems have been protracted rather than solved.

This trend began with the first Greek bailout program in 2010. In order to prevent a Greek default, the euro-zone states provided their first credit guarantees to Athens at the time. To do so, they used tricks to circumvent clauses in European law that prohibited precisely this kind of shared liability within the currency union. Even then, the more courageous act would have been to force Greece’s private creditors to absorb their losses. Under that scenario, even if banks had fallen into financial difficulties, one could have still used tax money to either partly nationalize these banks or to refinance them with fresh capital. During the financial crisis, Great Britain showed precisely how that could be done.

The cowardice continued with the 2012 debt haircut for Greece. At the time, euro-zone officials lacked the courage to force Greece’s private creditors to accept the total loss of their capital. They only had to accept losses of half. And it was already clear back then that Greece’s debt load would remain unsustainable despite the 50 percent cuts. But the politicians ignored the uncomfortable figures and instead prescribed unrealistic savings and reform targets for Athens. They also entertained the comfortable illusion that a handful of troika officials could somehow rid Greece of its inefficiencies.

With these harsh policies, the creditor states contributed significantly to the fact that the Greeks voted at the beginning of 2015 for a new left-wing government. The way in which this new government was treated was demonstrative of the third case of cowardice. European politicians have refused to even negotiate a debt hair cut that Athens has continued to insist upon. The reason is clear: They are afraid of their own voters, to whom they would have to admit that the billions that have flowed into Greece have now vanished.

In all likelihood, that is exactly what has happened. Most voters will have suspected as much for some time now.

Christian Rickens is the head of SPIEGEL ONLINE’s business and economics desk.

Conclusion:
A real question for many economists, however, is why Europe is forcing Greece to do any more austerity at all. It’s already done so much that, before this latest showdown, it actually had a budget surplus before interest payments. And, in this view, that’s all it should shoot for, really: the point at which it doesn’t need any more bailouts from Europe. Anything more than that, though, could just inflict unnecessary harm to the economy. When interest rates are zero, like they are now, budget cuts of 3 percent of gross domestic product would, by Paul Krugman’s calculation, make the economy shrink something like 7.5 percent. So even though you have less debt, your debt burden isn’t much better since you have less money to pay it back.

Ukraine Government: “We Target Civilians.” Separatists: “Their Targeting Maps Prove It.”

By Eric Zuesse

Global Research, February 03, 2015

Region:
In-depth Report:

The pro-regime Ukrainian TV station Hromandske TV — which is funded by the U.S. Government, the Dutch Government,  has reported that the Ukrainian Government is specifically targeting civilians to die in the Donbass region in the former Ukraine’s southeast. It’s being done in order “to clean the cities.”

This is open acknowledgement that the operation, which the U.S. is financing (and Ukraine is bankrupt so it can never reimburse its donors), is actually an ethnic-cleansing campaign.

Previously, on Hromadske TV, a proponent of doing just that (ethnic cleansing)

was interviewed. He said:

“If we take, for example, just the Donetsk oblast, there are approximately 4 million inhabitants, at least 1.5 million of which are superfluous. … Donbass must be exploited as a resource, which it is. … The most important thing that must be done — no matter how cruel it may sound — is that there is a certain category of people that must be exterminated.”

Here is how it’s done:

Ukrainian military speak out plainly –  We bombard our cities

Published on Sep 9, 2014
ENG SUBS – Translation: Fedot Panteleev

[9 September 2014, from Slavyangrad, pro-separatists’ clips are shown, taken from pro-Ukrainian-Government telecasts] Video of Commander of the Ukrainian Government’s volunteer battalion ’Shaktarsk,’ Ruslan Onishchenko:

“Our mission, being employees of the Ministry of the Interior, is to clean the cities, after the army has ‘worked’ this territory with aircraft, artillery and heavy military equipment. This is a normal tactical approach to warfare.”

Retired Col. General Vladimir Ruban, interviewed on the pro-Ukrainian-Government Hromadske TV, then says:

“I want to offer the Ukrainian artillerists medals, to those who shell the city [Donetsk], the houses and the civilian population, … for they [artillerists] have deserved it [medals], both because of the accuracy and inaccuracy. … It’s one thing if attack groups or any mobile mortar troops drive through the city and shoot, … but if the artillery units fired from the airport [i.e., from the distance], then no one can claim that the separatists shoot themselves [i.e., that the people who are being killed in the city are victims of separatist troops mistakenly hitting passers-by when aiming at Government troops. He is saying that artillerists will clearly get the blame, whereas street-fighters can always blame the ‘terrorists.’]. … The shelling there is done as intimidation, … not just object destruction, but intimidation [to get the population to flee to nearby Russia]. The civilian population is intimidated by a chaotic bombardment of different objects. There are many shells that plug directly into the streets or vegetable gardens [and so make the very ground on which these people live terrifying to them]. INTERVIEWER: This refers to those that didn’t explode? ANSWER:  Yes, … there are many of those, … shells that fail to detonate. But Gorlowka has been fortunate to have not yet been totally eradicated from the face of the earth, along with the civilian population. INTERVIEWER: You mean that the city is bombarded violently? ANSWER: Gorlowka was shelled by our troops, [even] as I went there for the prisoner exchange. Although  it was known that I was there, they [our troops] kept up the bombardment of Gorlowka. 

General Ruban might not have know it at the time of his interview, but on February 1st, Life News in Russia bannered

http://lifenews.ru/news/149253″

“Militia DNR: Ukrainian Army Uses US Missiles,” and reported that in Gorlovka were found “shells that do not belong to Ukrainian artillery, and even more so do not use Soviet or post-Soviet military equipment.
 
According to their hypothesis, the weapons are from NATO. Deputy brigade commander Army DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic] callsign ‘Biker’ showed shells and said that … this is a special projectile 155 caliber self-propelled artillery of the M109 A1 American production, which is used by NATO countries.” Furthermore, “The presence of foreigners in their army and radio intercepts confirms our intelligence when we hear in interceptions, phrases in English and Polish.” Germany’s Bild, and Britain’s Mail, are also among the international news organizations that have previously reported on American mercenaries, including the former notorious Blackwater organization, ‘advising’ the Ukrainian army in this war. The finding of U.S. military provisions on the battlefields in Donbass is, furthermore, routine; but U.S. soldiers, like Russian ones, are probably not fighting there. Ukraine is only a proxy war between the two major nuclear powers, not yet a direct war between the nuclear powers.
 
Within just the past few days, further video evidence was uploaded which indicates that the targeting of civilians is a central purpose of the U.S.-funded Ukrainian war campaign:

The Militia captured secret documents from UAF 28 01 2015 ENG SUBS

 

 

Although Kiev may claim that ‘stray shells’ hit a hospital or a kindergarten, we have found on the front line that is being left behind by departing Ukrainian soldiers, artillery maps, where the targets were restaurants, cafeterias and shops. Here is an exclusive report by our correspondent Valentin Trushin from the former UAF’s [Ukrainian Armed Forces} trenches:

This is a field near the village of Ozeryanovka, from which recently was a Ukrainian battery firing at Gorlovka: … [The rebel soldier says that many of these abandoned tanks and other weapons are undamaged, and ‘They will say tomorrow that Russia supplied them to us, but it’s actually their equipment that will be repaired if necessary but will be used at war against them.’ Views of Government-destroyed Gorlovka are shown.] … In the [rebel-]destroyed dugouts were found … notebooks of cannon commanders, maps. The documents show that shelling of the city [by the Government] was not random, but deliberate.The coordinates of the targets are shown. For examples, one is a restaurant, another a cafeteria or a market where no militiamen were stationed. … Here are their target-maps, … irrefutable evidence of war crimes. 

Little over a month ago, a rebel commander explained why the Ukrainian armed forces are losing:

[eng subs] How the elite UA troops were defeated by the militia. Interview with commander Kedr

 

 

[13 Dec. 2014, from Cassad TV in Crimea, run by a man whom the U.S. aristocracy describe as being a far-right Marxist

“How the Elite UA [Ukrainian Army] Troops Were Defeated by the Militia. Interview with Commander Kedr

(head of the anti-Ukrainian-Government Semyonovka battalion in the outskirts of Slovyansk): How did you manage to defeat them? ANSWER: The most surprising thing is that they were eliminated by the [rebel] militias, who haven’t graduated from any military academies. Many of them haven’t even served in the army before. The majority of them had only for the very first time recently taken weapons in their hands [they hadn’t previously owned or used even a gun]. I think that victory … [resulted from] … the high motivation of our troops, and it was guaranteed by the high morale, the example that was being given by the commanders who were taking part in the fight themselves. It provided such a result. Good trophies [weapons] were captured then, … [and it even] happened before the Ilovaisk cauldron [when the enemy was encircled], and at a time when the situation was very difficult for the militias themselves, … [so] there was only one injured soldier from our side in that battle, but from the enemy’s side were killed 15-12 men, practically all of them [that were fighting]. … Six [of them] were taken captive. [The battlefield is shown with enemy corpses]. … Our unit arrived to collect the corpses of two of their shot-down pilots. But the enemy managed to save one of their pilots. I repeat: Our troops weren’t professional military but people like miners and trolley-bus drivers. [3:17] I’d say to Ukrainian mothers that our soldiers have nowhere to retreat from their own land, while the enemy have a chance to turn around and go home. 

[4:14: video is shown of the enemy’s combat ration.] It’s an American combat ration.

The actual reason why this southeast-Ukrainian ethnic-cleansing campaign is necessary for Obama, who installed the current regime in Ukraine, is that, if it is not done, and, if the people who lived and voted in the Donbass region (Ukraine’s far-east) were still to remain there and allowed to vote there as being citizens of Ukraine, then they would vote at least 90% against the regime’s candidates, and for moderates, because, even before the regime had started to exterminate these people, they had voted 90% for Viktor Yanukovych in the last democratic Ukraine-wide Presidential election (which was back in 2010), and he was the very same man whom Obama overthrew. Now, after this extermination-campaign, the vote there against the Obama stooges would be virtually 100% — not just 90%.

In other words: Obama needs to get rid of those people. They can die, or else they can flee to Russia, but Obama needs them gone from Ukraine.

As regards why Obama had wanted their land to begin with, it was because unless the gas and other assets in the ground there can be privatized or sold off by the Ukrainian Government to pay its debts, the Ukrainian Government will go bankrupt and become an enormous drag on everyone who had previously lent to it, including the U.S., IMF, EU, World Bank, and others (ironically including even Russia).

Now that the situation is becoming increasingly clear that this land will not be able to be controlled by the Ukrainian Government, Obama’s best bet (in terms of his objectives) is to allow the war simply to end with Ukraine’s defeat, so that no more good money will go to Ukraine after the previous bad money is thus lost, but just cut the losses and bring this truncated and rabidly anti-Russian western half of Ukraine into NATO for the goal that is, apparently, Obama’s top foreign-policy objective: surrounding Russia with U.S. nuclear missiles and with regimes that hate Russia, in order to get Russia’s capitulation to America’s aristocracy.

Vladimir Putin wants Donbass to instead remain a part of Ukraine, as a counter-weight there against the rabidly anti-Russian voters in Ukraine’s western region, so as to produce yet another Yanukovych-like leadership in Ukraine and thus reduce the likelihood of a global nuclear war (which would be Russia’s only alternative if Obama were to succeed in his surround-Russia-with-missiles plan).

After all: John Fitzgerald Kennedy didn’t like it when the Soviet Union in 1962 tried to place nuclear missiles in just one location near the U.S.: Cuba. For Putin, Ukraine is like a nuclear Cuba was to America, but more like around ten nuclear Cubas, in Russia’s case. For Ukraine to join NATO would, perhaps, alone be sufficient threat to Russia so as to produce an immediate Russian nuclear attack against the U.S. and other NATO nations (a pre-emptive Russian attack, against us). The insane ones there would be the U.S. and any nation that supports it — the nations that then are clearly aiming to ‘conquer’ Russia. The U.S., under Kennedy, refused to stand for it in reverse; and Russia, under Putin or any other leader, shouldn’t stand for it, either. NATO needs to end, immediately. It had started as an anti-communist club, and was then valid; but what it was and is after the end of the Soviet Union, is the greatest threat to the entire world. It is now nothing but an anti-Russian club: not just insane, but also evil.

The only beneficiaries of today’s NATO are the West’s arms-merchants and other military suppliers. For everybody else, it’s catastrophe waiting to happen.

So: that’s the reason why the United States has been supporting (and, until now, even demanding) an ethnic-cleansing campaign in the former Ukraine. It’s part of the evil and supremely dangerous insanity that is NATO.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Aftermath Footage: Overnight anti-ISIS airstrikes devastate village in Syria (New Video)

New anti-ISIS airstrike in Syria, 4 more in Iraq – Pentagon

8 civilians, incl. 3 children, killed in US-led strikes on Syria – monitor

Residents look at buildings which were damaged in what activists say was one of Tuesday's U.S. air strikes in Kfredrian, Idlib province September 24, 2014 (Reuters / Ammar Abdullah)

Residents look at buildings which were damaged in what activists say was one of Tuesday’s U.S. air strikes in Kfredrian, Idlib province September 24, 2014 (Reuters / Ammar Abdullah)

US military has confirmed that the US-led coalition have launched five airstrikes on the Islamic State militants – one of them hit the Syrian territory, while four others hit Iraq.

“Two airstrikes west of Baghdad destroyed two ISIL armed vehicles and a weapons cache. Two airstrikes southeast of Irbil destroyed ISIL fighting positions. A fifth airstrike damaged eight ISIL vehicles in Syria northwest of Al Qa’im. All aircraft exited the strike areas safely,” the US Central Command said in a statement on Wednesday.

Pentagon officials told NBC News that that the airstrike northwest of Al Qaim damaged eight vehicles linked to the Islamic militants. The strikes in Iraq west of Baghdad targeted two vehicles and a weapons cache, while the terrorists’ “fighting positions” were hit southeast of Erbil.

The main target of the strikes was an area used by the Islamic States (formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) militants to move equipment from Syria across the border into Iraq, Rear Adm. John Kirby also told.

 

 

Various attack, bomber and fighter aircraft were used for the strikes, and all aircraft were able to leave the area unharmed afterward.

Earlier in the day, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported airstrikes in and around the eastern Syrian city of Boukamal. The head of UK-based organization Rami Abdulrahman said the strikes also hit the territory 30-35 kilometers to the west of the strategic city of Kobani. He added that military planes that conducted attacks came from the direction of Turkey and were not Syrian.

In the fight against the extremist militants in Syria and Iraq, the US-led coalition will will not only use ongoing strikes, but also foreign fighters, cutting off financing, and a major effort to “reclaim Islam by Muslims,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.

The US and its allies have vowed to combat the IS militants, who have been on the rampage in parts of war-torn Syria and Iraq. The anti-IS coalition, led by the US, was joined by nearly 40 nations including five Arab nations – Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The first attacks in Syria were launched on Tuesday with 30 militants allegedly killed in the airstrikes. Syria has repeatedly warned that any action on its territory needs the government’s approval and has said it is willing to work with any country to tackle the IS militants.

“Any action of any type without the approval of Syrian government is an aggression against Syria,” Ali Haidar, minister of national reconciliation affairs, told reporters in Damascus earlier in September.

“There must be cooperation with Syria and coordination with Syria and there must be a Syrian approval of any action whether it is military or not.”

Moscow joined Damascus by stating that Washington should respect the sovereignty of Syria in its attempts to deal with the Islamists in the region.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Sunday that there is need for “strict adherence to the UN Charter and international law as well as unconditional respect for Syrian sovereignty during the implementation of plans by the US-led coalition, which includes the use of force.”

On Wednesday, Moscow questioned the effectiveness of the airstrikes, saying that it was a “controversial” issue.

“The specific context of the events still raises serious questions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “First of all, the United States and the West in general for some reason chose to ignore the terrorist nature of the Islamic State, when the militants fought only with government troops in Syria.”

The ministry added that “despite the loud statements about the campaign’s ‘successes,’ the IS terrorists continue to block the Kurdish town of Kobani [Ayn al-Arab] in northeast Syria. In the event of its capture, the inhabitants will obviously be brutally repressed, if not completely annihilated.”

Meanwhile, a Syrian government minister said that the fight against IS militants is going in “right direction“, as Damascus has been kept informed.

What has happened so far is proceeding in the right direction in terms of informing the Syrian government and by not targeting Syrian military installations and not targeting civilians,” Ali Haidar, minister for national reconciliation, told Reuters on Wednesday.

strike

Bombing ‘imminent threat’: US justifies strikes without ‘direct request’ from Syria

A still image captured from U.S. Navy video footage shows a Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile (TLAM) is launched against ISIL targets from the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in the Arabian Gulf, September 23, 2014. (Reuters / Abe McNatt / U.S. Navy / Handout)

A still image captured from U.S. Navy video footage shows a Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile (TLAM) is launched against ISIL targets from the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea in the Arabian Gulf, September 23, 2014. (Reuters / Abe McNatt / U.S. Navy / Handout)

The UN chief is “aware” that the Syrian government did not directly “request” airstrikes on terrorist targets on their soil and urged all parties involved in the US-led anti-ISIS campaign to take all necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is “aware” that the US-led intrusion and airstrikes on Islamic State targets were not carried out “at the direct request of the Syrian Government,” in a statement delivered at a climate summit press conference.

However, he noted that Damascus “was informed beforehand” and that the strikes took place in “areas no longer under the effective control” of the government.

“I regret the loss of any civilian lives as a result of strikes against targets in Syria. The parties involved in this campaign must abide by international humanitarian law and take all necessary precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties,” the UN chief added.

In a letter to the UN secretary general, US Ambassador Samantha Power used Article 51 of the UN charter to justify air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, claiming that it was necessary to protect civilians and secure Iraq’s borders.

The US explained that Iraq has “made it clear” that it faces a “serious” threat from the Islamic State militants coming from Syria, a country which Washington says offers “safe havens” for militants.

“These safe havens are used by ISIL (ISIS) for training, planning, financing, and carrying out attacks across Iraqi borders and against Iraq’s people,” the letter reads.

It is because of this threat and at the request of the Iraqi government that the US decided to lead a coalition against Islamic State positions in Syria, “in order to end the continuing attacks on Iraq,” to protect civilians and help Baghdad secure state borders.

Washington_ByP_FBfIAAEvqqP

Letter from White House to UN justifying action against #ISIS in #Iraq and #Syria under Article 51:

 

Stating that IS poses a dire threat both to the region as well as to the security of the United States, Powers writes that Article 51 of the UN charter provides countries the right to engage in self-defense, including collective self-defense, against an armed attack.

“As is the case here, the government of the State where the threat is located is unwilling or unable to prevent the use of its territory for such attacks,” the letter, dated September 23, reads.

It argues that strikes against ISIS in Syria are justified as the Syrian regime “cannot and will not confront these safe havens effectively itself.”

“Accordingly, the United States has initiated necessary and proportionate military actions in Syria in order to eliminate the ongoing ISIL threat to Iraq.”

In addition, Washington is also conducting military action against Al-Qaeda “elements in Syria known as the Khorasan Group,” which it believes could be responsible for plotting against America and its allies.

The air campaign against the Khorasan extremists was separate from the one targeting the Islamic State group, as the US believes they were close to carrying out “major attacks” against the West.

 

This US Navy photo shows an an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, as they prepare to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)to conduct strike missions against ISIL targets on September 23, 2014 in the Gulf. (AFP Photo / US Navy / Robert Burck / Habdout)

This US Navy photo shows an an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, and an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, as they prepare to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)to conduct strike missions against ISIL targets on September 23, 2014 in the Gulf. (AFP Photo / US Navy / Robert Burck / Habdout)

“Intelligence reports indicated that the group was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the US homeland,” announced Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director of operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He specified that the group is “establishing roots in Syria in order to advance attacks against the West and the homeland.”

Calling the strikes “successful,” Mayville also announced that more than 40 Tomahawk missiles were launched from the Gulf and the Red Sea, saying “the majority of the Tomahawk strikes were against Khorasan.”

Earlier in the day, US President Barack Obama said that he ordered the strikes in Syria to “disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al-Qaeda operatives in Syria, who are known as the Khorasan Group”.

“Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people,” he added.

However, the US airstrikes will not be “effective, if there is no coordination of actions on the ground and if no ground military operations are carried out,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem told RT Arabic.

“The US is mocking the whole world when they say that they are going to coordinate their actions not with the Syrian government, but with the moderate Syrian opposition. This is funny. What moderate opposition are you talking about?” Moualem told RT Arabic. “This moderate opposition is killing Syrians just like al-Nusra or ISIS.”

If the US “seriously wanted to fight the ISIS and other terrorist organizations,” there would be an international organization under the aegis of the UN, in which all countries would participate, Moualem said.