Too many voices the past few days are all pointing the same way, and I’ve always thought that is never good. A guessing-based consensus, jumping to conclusions and all that. Look, it’s fine if you don’t have all the answers, no matter how nervous it makes you.
What I’m referring to in this instance is the overwhelming conviction that Greece and Tsipras have conceded, given in to the Troika, flown a white flag, you get the drift. But guys, the battle ain’t over yet.
So here’s an alternative scenario, purely hypothetically (but so in essence is the white flag idea, always got to wait for the fat lady), and for entertainment purposes only. Let ‘er rip:
Tsipras, first through holding a referendum, and then through delivering a proposal that at first sight looked worse than what the Troika provided before the referendum, has managed a number of things.
First, his domestic support base has solidified. That’s what the referendum confirmed once more. Second, he’s given the Troika members, plus the various nations that think they represent them, something that was sure from the moment he sent it to them: a way to divide and rule and conquer the lot.
Tsipras has set the IMF versus the EU versus the ECB. Schäuble snapped at Draghi last night: ”Do you hold me for a fool?” Germany itself is split too, Merkel and Schäuble are at odds. Germany and France don’t see eye to eye anymore. The US doesn’t see eye to eye with any party involved.
Italy is about to tell Germany to stop its shenanigans and get a deal done. The True Finns may get to decide the entire shebang, with less than 1 million rabid voters calling the shots for 320 million eurozone inhabitants.
From that point of view, Tsipras has done a great job at playing the other side of the table off against each other. So much so, it doesn’t even have to have been intentional, and it still works out great. He’s exposed the entire EU structure as a bag of bones, let alone a naked emperor.
Moreover, imagine this also purely hypothetical and for entertainment purposes only notion: maybe Tsipras has known forever that for Greece to stay inside the eurozone was a losing proposition. But he never had the mandate. Well, after Schäuble’s antics last night, that mandate has come a lot closer. And it’s not even just in Greece either.
And he may not even need such a mandate: Schäuble may do the job for him. If Tsipras pokes him just a little more, he’ll throw such a hissyfit that Alexis will be able to get Greece out of the euro without carrying the blame himself. And get money for the effort. Lots of money.
And that’s not all: he’ll sow division in the ranks to such an extent that the whole EU won’t survive. How can Schäuble stay in his post after this? How can Draghi? He’s shown them all, for the whole world to see, to be nothing but hot air bags of bones. Their entire credibility is shot to bits.
What’s coming out now in the western press are little factoids like Draghi was vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International when those infamous swaps were arranged through the bank, that allowed Greece to hide its debt and be eligible for euro membership, and that have already cost the country $5 billion down the road so far.
And that Schäuble accepted 100,000 marks from Canadian/German arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber in 1999, a move that brought down both Helmut Kohl and Schäuble himself, clearing the way for…drumroll… Angela Merkel. Case has never been entirely solved, no charges were laid against Kohl or Schäuble.
If that’s what Tsipras was aiming for, great. But even if he wasn’t, consciously, still great. The Troika is finished and will never be the same. Nor will the EU. Sometimes all you have to do is make someone so mad they’ll blow up, just find the right trigger point.
And it’s not as if I didn’t warn about this. On the eve of the referendum, I said:
It’s time for the Troika to seek out some real men too. It cannot be that the winner leaves and all the losers get to stay. The attempts to suppress the IMF debt sustainability analysis were a shameful attempt to mislead the people of Greece, and of Europe as a whole. And don’t forget the US: Lagarde operates out of Washington. It cannot be that after this mockery of democracy, these same people can just remain where they are.It’s time for Europe to show the same democratic heart that Varoufakis has shown this morning. And if that doesn’t happen, all Europeans should make sure to leave the European Union as quickly as they can. Because that would prove once and for all that the EU is no more than a cheap facade, a thin veil behind which something pretty awful tries to hide its ugly face.
But you know, these people think they’re untouchable. They’re not, and Tsipras has exposed that. Not bad for a weekend’s work.
I hear a lot of talk about regime change, and all the Greek opposition leaders being invited to Brussels. But a party that has a solid and rising approval rating and support base is not easy to topple. I think the regime change will have to take place on the other side of the negotiating table (Tsipras will shuffle some seats, but that’s all he needs to do).
From my purely hypothetical and for entertainment purposes only scenario, Tsipras has set the perfect trap for the other side of the table. He’s driving them apart, setting them off against each other, putting them into incompatible positions, and making the positions of quite a few of them untenable.
This is no longer about saving Greece, it’s about saving the entire European edifice. And that is a losing battle, certainly as long as the assclowns are involved that have run the show up to now.
As hypothetical as this all may be, I think perhaps it’s a good idea to give Alexis Tsipras a bit more of the benefit of the doubt.