For Brexit to be a Success, UK and US Must Work Together to End German Hegemony

For Brexit to be a Success, UK and US Must Work Together to End German Hegemony

  (Photo by Calgacus) By Joshua Tartakovsky Calgacus 13 January 2016 Britain chose Brexit. Now Britain must find a way to leave while protecting its interests and finding an honorable compromise with its central trading partner. The problem is that forging a fair agreement with the EU, dominated by Germany, is impossible. In an election year where both French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel are facing increasingly potent eurosceptical challengers, and as Merkel’s refugee-friendly policy is revealing itself as lunacy in the streets of Berlin, it takes a high level of naiveté to assume that EU elite in Brussels would want to give Britain a fair deal. Anything less than ‘punishing’ Britain for daring to break free would embolden Front National, Alternative for Germany, and Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands where elections will be held in March. Hollande and Merkel can hardly have the tranquility and good judgment needed for even a meagre compromise as they feel the ground shaking beneath their feet. Britain buys 7% of German exports. But Germany will not permit the EU to unravel for the sake of staying in good terms with Britain. If the EU breaks up, German industries would no longer dominate the EU, and Spanish, Italian or French products, now cheaper without the euro, could present a viable competition as they will be more attractive for buyers abroad. Similarly, Germany has already shown its inflexibility by the hardline it took towards Greece’s desperate pleas for a compromise on its debt. The Greek economy is on its death bed but Germany did not flinch. Germany’s financial interest is to...
Greece: In the Eye of the Storm

Greece: In the Eye of the Storm

By Joshua Tartakovsky, 7 April 2016 Greece is once again in the eye of the storm. This is true for several reasons. It is the only EU country where transnational EU capitalism failed (remember that when people tell you about how communism failed, and while they are right, capitalism failed and is failing too). Now according to Wikileaks, the IMF is considering creating a“credit event” against the country. Greece also became a magnet for migrants and so-called refugees. The country is mired in such a deep recession that it can never possibly recover. Ever. (How about that for American optimism?) In fact, in order to continuously pay for the debt, more cuts will be needed, homes will be repossessed, pensions will be sliced. All this in a country where a third are under the poverty line, where a majority of youth are unemployed and where the entire family often lives off pensions of the elderly. The debt will be paid for an eternity but it will not be followed by economic growth. When “life as it is” is not bearable, what do more cuts mean? More suffering, deeper into the endless pit. No hope. No future. Welcome to 21st Century EU Capitalism. Recession, austerity, crisis. Of course, Greece was the first victim. Its naïve populace with its good intentions believed joining EU was a glamorous endeavor. The Euro seemed shiny and starry.  But now that industries are destroyed, people have no money, and businesses close every day, the EU does not seem like such a big fantasy anymore. Now it is too late. (However, if only the Greeks could...
Portugal : A Preemptive Strike

Portugal : A Preemptive Strike

  By Joshua Tartakovsky, November 3, 2015 A Prime Minister in charge of a new government was just appointed in Portugal.  His name is Pedro Passos Coelho, and he is the leader of Portugal à Frente (Portugal Ahead), a center-right umbrella that had been governing the country in a pro-austerity direction between 2011 and 2015.  There is a slight problem, however, and a reason to hold back from clinking glasses. In the recent October 4 parliamentary elections, à Frente received a total of 107 seats out of 230 seats in the Assembleia da República, the Portuguese Parliament.  À Frente is now the largest bloc in parliament. But Portugal is a parliamentary democracy.  A coalition that wishes to govern must enjoy the vote of confidence of at least 116 members in parliament in which 230 members serve.  Passos Coehlo does not enjoy such a majority, and the parties on the Left are unwilling to join his coalition. This not only means that he will be unable to govern, since in 10 days most of the Portuguese parties will pass a no-confidence vote, but also that he does not represent the democratic will of the Portuguese majority. How did things come to this bizarre stage? Before we begin to seek an answer to this question, we must first make sense of the Portuguese political map.  Portugal à Frente is the name of joint list composed of two parties, Partido Social Democrata (PSD), which is a social-democrat party only by name run by neoliberals (as one who is accustomed to European politics by now must know), and People’s Party (CDS), a Conservative...
This is a Betrayal: Interview with Professor Spyros Marketos

This is a Betrayal: Interview with Professor Spyros Marketos

Photo: telesurtv.net Telesur | Blogs By Joshua Tartakovsky 15 July, 2015 ​Professor Spyros Maketos teaches at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, is a member of the Truth Committee on Public Debt and a member of Antarsya. Joshua Tartakovsky (JT): Professor Spyros Marketos, how are most people in Greece reacting to the memorandum? Obviously people to the left of Syriza or even within Syriza are not happy but, the how does the vast majority, those who voted No in the referendum, view the agreement? and what is the media saying about the agreement? Sypros Marketos (SM): I can only give my impressions. Here we don’t have solid data on this but the first sentiment seems to be a numbing of the public. People were really joyous after the last plebiscite. After all this joy, this victory, the complete turn around of the government left them with no joy and there was agony until last morning and now people don’t really believe what had just happened. There is a large percentage of the people who are incredulous about what is happening but there are others that are very angry because this is not the first time something like this happens in Greece. Papandreou was elected promising to give money, and he imposed the first memorandum. Samaras has been elected as anti-memorandum and he imposed the second memorandum, and now Tsipras has been elected with the promise to tear the memoranda and now he brings the third memoranda. So people are now much less credulous and gullible than they were towards the previous governments before. Secondly, people know that the road to the...
Tsipras Capitulated, We Owe It to Greece to Speak Out

Tsipras Capitulated, We Owe It to Greece to Speak Out

  Photo: Reuters. The picture above appeared in this article.  Telesur 10 July, 2015 This past Thursday, the Greek government represented by Alexis Tsipras handed over the final proposal to the Troika. In return for a bailout of 50 billion euros for the next three years and a short-term financial bridge, Tsipras agreed to major cuts, raises in VAT which will affect negatively most Greeks, and slashing of pensions which were already cut by 50 percent since the first bailout. Just 6 days ago, this past Sunday, 61 percent of the Greek public voted for its dignity and against capitulation to the Troika, despite the fact that they were placed under economic siege and financial blackmail. The majority of the Greek people voted against a proposal which would cut 8 billion euros of public funds. Now Tsipras offered the Eurogroup 13 billion euros in a new proposal. It remains to be seen whether the German Bundestag will accept this capitulation. As far as Tsipras is concerned, however, the decision has been made. Many people on the international Left are naturally sympathetic to Syriza and to Alexis Tsipras. They understand the immense pressure he was placed under, and respect the fact that he managed to take a tough negotiating position with the Troika entirely on his own. Yet, what they fail to understand is that Tsipras is not Greece, and Tsipras is not Syriza. The last proposal cannot be defined as anything else but capitulation. This is due to the simple fact that it would involve major cuts in pensions and a rise in VAT while Greece would cut 13 billion...