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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Greece: A Government of Contrived Smiles Behind which Attempts to Hide Incompetence

By Con George-Kotzabasis--January 02, 2015

Not only the ideologically antiquated and totally irresponsible and hasty announcements of the ministers of the new government, that led to the collapse of the Greek stock exchange and the stratospheric rise of interest rates, but also their body language, as shown in their performance before TV cameras, exposed with ridicule their witless incompetence. The Minister of State, Nikos Pappas, interviewed on Mega TV, was trying in despair to evade and not to answer the questions of the two interviewers and to cover the poverty of his arguments behind endless contrived smiles.

More gravely, but also more comically, the Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis, in the press conference held in Athens last Friday with the head of the European Union (EU) Jeroen Dijssebloem, with tongue-in-cheek and with supercilious righteousness was elaborating with complacent fabricated smiles the ‘perfectly remedial’ counter proposals of the Tsipras Government that would end the crisis to the presumably destructive austerity program of the EU that according to the government was exacerbating it. A program however that aimed, and apparently was succeeding, as indeed did in Ireland and Portugal, in pulling Greece out of the crisis, as recent economic statistics were indicating and serious international commentators were averring. Varoufakis in his last answer to the question of a journalist, in a bravura theatrical performance, described the Troika, the representatives of the EU, the IMF, and the European Central Bank, as being “rotten in its foundations” and the Greek Government would not negotiate with it but only directly with the heads of these three institutions. Dijssebloem sitting next to the Greek minister listening to the translation from Greek to English had a look on his face as if he couldn’t believe his ears. Varoufakis on the other hand had lost all his pompous confidence and showed in his movements and facial expression that he was unsure whether he had said the right thing or not. Totally riveted in his self-doubt and diffidence he seemed like a little child that had lost its way. But the crown of thorns that was placed by Dijssebloem on the head of Varoufakis came when the latter proferred his hand to the former and receiving a contemptuous cold handshake and hearing in bafflement at the same time the head of the EU whispering to him that what he said “was a big mistake.” At the end of this grandiloquent thespian performance by the minister of finance, just before the curtains fell, Varoufakis’ body language showed the depth of his confusion and perplexity and his attempt to hide them behind contrived artificial smiles.

It is by such stuff and political buffoonery that the Tsipras Government will remedy all the ills that the ‘evil’ Troika brought to Greece.  This government of a medley of Marxists, socialists, and anarcho-syndicalists posit a great danger to the country as it plans to implement the by now defunct nostrums of its ideology, such as the expansion of the public sector, the nationalization of banks, airlines, ports, and electric and water services, the unbridled extension of the State, a highly regulated business sector, hence, replanting all the poisonous seeds into the soil of Greece that brought a blighted crop of economic bankruptcy.


As to Syrizas’ stand toward to the EU and the IMF, it will either stiffen it and thus lead the country to tactless insolvency and back to the drachma, or it will blink before the sharp sighted Europeans and will be forced to renege, and reverse, all the bombastic promises it made to the people before the elections. Indeed, it will pour so much water in its wine and make it so tasteless that will turn all the people, who so frivolously believed its false promises and lies and voted for it, into teetotallers.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Greece's Electoral Theodicy: The worst of all possible worlds

Those “whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” The Greek middle classes, who, with inimitable stupidity, voted for the multi-factional neo-communist party of Syriza, deserve their fate. Like Hitler’s Nazi party in 1933, a communist party has taken power in 2015, not through revolution, not through the bullet but through the ballot of a moronic electorate.

Con George-Kotzabasis January 25, 2015

7.30 pm Greek time

Friday, November 21, 2014

Return of Troika to Athens to Consummate Negotiations with Greek Government a Compulsion


By Con George-Kotzabasis November 19, 2014

The Greek Opposition and the media in general by demonizing The Memorandum with its austere measures that has been imposed upon Greece by the Troika, i.e., the European Commission, the ECB, and the IMF, as a condition for the flow of funds from the latter to the Greek Treasury for the purpose of saving the country from insolvency and gradually placing it on a trajectory of economic recovery, has made it impossible for anyone to reasonably argue, or even to imply, that this necessary austerity, after a mindless profligate spending by previous governments that sunk Greece into an unfathomable debt and debarred it from the financial markets and threw it into an unprecedented spin of economic crisis since the ending of World War II, would generate beneficent results and would pull the country eventually out of its economic crisis.

History has repeatedly shown that countries in critical situations, almost like a law of nature, give rise to extraordinary men/women of stupendous wisdom, mettle, and will power that saved their nations from destruction. Themistocles at the battle of Salamis that saved Greece from Xerxes’ despotism and his barbarian myrmidons, Lincoln in the American Civil War, and Churchill in World War II, are outstanding examples. Likewise in contemporary Greece from the ashes of its economic holocaust, a phoenix, in the figure of Antonis Samaras, had risen to salvage the country from its tragic economic mess. In the short space of two years the Samaras government accomplished an unprecedented feat, that no other government in the world was ever able to consummate, i.e., to draw the country from the edge of a precipitous calamity and place it by gradual firm steps on the solid ground of inchoate economic recovery. This was achieved by a series of structural reforms that made the country more competitive, and by painful cuts in the budget that generated for the first time a primary surplus in the current year, after many years of budget deficits that was the embedded malaise of the policies of previous governments and were the major cause that pushed Greece into bankruptcy. Also, for the first time after forgetting, but not forgiving, many years of negative growth, the country’s GDP in 2014 has increased by 0.7%, and unemployment has decreased from 28% to 25.9%, in the same year, and is estimated to decrease to 25% by the end of 2014.

It is because of these achievements of the Samaras government, that I believe that the TROIKA will be compelled to back down from its severe and apparently unyielding demands, in its impending negotiations with the Greek government in a few days, and will render a positive review of the policies implemented by the latter as stipulated in the Memorandum, which is the sine qua non of Greece’s exit from the strictures of the Memorandum by the end of 2014. It is inconceivable that the TROIKA will persevere with its hard position and put in jeopardy these successes of the Samaras government, that after all, emanated from its own austerity measures that were contained in its own directives as designated in the Memorandum. The TROIKA cannot be so foolish as to throw a spanner in its own works! Hence, the nonsensical fear, that has been so gloomily and frivolously fanned by the Greek media that the TROIKA will continue its hard-line toward the government and place in predicament, and waste, all the sacrifices Greeks had made to turn their country into a modern economy and fecund with prosperity, will dissipate with the softening and compulsion of the TROIKA to withdraw its hard stand.

I rest on my oars: your turn now.

                  

Friday, October 03, 2014

The Search of Neuroscience for the Quintessence of Economics

By Con George-Kotzabasis—October 03, 2014

A reply to “of markets and minds” --by professor Peter Bossaerts
Melbourne University Magazine

 
Economics is the application of scarce means for the attainment of countless abundant ends. Since all ends cannot be fulfilled because of the scarcity of resources, human choice selects those ends that are more needful or pleasurable to man than those that are less so. The attainment of those more needful ends is a result of human action. These ends, however, are the fruits of the future and the inevitable uncertainty that is riveted upon it. Therefore human action is always speculation based, however, not upon the throw of the dice but upon ratiocination. Furthermore, actions are determined by the value judgments of individuals i.e., the ends they are eager to attain. These valuations differ among individuals due to the different circumstances and living conditions of these individuals and to the variable desires and wishes that emanate from the plethora of their personalities. There is no constant relationship between these valuations, as they emanate from the different wishes, desires and caprices of an umpteenth of individuals, and are therefore beyond the bailiwick of science to measure them; what scientific method could measure with precision the capricious longings of man and the uncertainty that surrounds his existence?

Professor Bossaerts’ attempt therefore, to identify and control the ‘cells’ of the economy and finance and the complex interactions that determine their course by the scientific method of neuroscience for the purpose of rationally directing the process of the economy to a more beneficial path, is in vain and is bound to fail. Science measures constant relationships in the controlled experimental environment of the lab but cannot measure uncontrolled innumerable variants that determine, in our case, the process of a free market economy. The search, therefore, of finding the inexorably elusive quintessence of the economic process by the tools of the hard sciences, though a laudable task, is purblind, as it cannot see nor understand that science is incapable of measuring the measureless.

The endeavour to supplant and redress, on the one hand, the imperfections of the free market economy, and on the other, the failures of government dirigisme to regulate and direct the economic process of the free market to a more optimal state, by the powerful algorithmic tools of science, will be found to be another futile attempt to direct the economy from a central command post, this time by the methods of neuroscience and not by an omniscient cabal of socialist planners.

In an imperfect and uncertain world, the free market economy will proceed and move by trial and error and continue to spread its benefits to mankind. But the intervention of man’s reason and understanding will substantially diminish the errors by increasing their correction in time by the power of man’s imagination and ratiocination.                 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Samaras Government and the Frivolous Populist Chattering of the Media Harlots

By Con George-Kotzabasis  August 19, 2014

The Greek economic crisis has brought on its heels a moral and intellectual crisis and “prostitution” of its media. The Fourth Estate in Greece has been transformed into a “red-light” district where a populist seraglio of colorful journalistic harlots has assembled to hustle their “quickies.” Only with few exceptions, such as Babis Papadimitriou, whose analyses of current economic events in Greece are illustriously admirable and an example for imitation, most of the media spoke persons and journalists in Greece are wallowing in the putrid waters of populism and from that position are publishing their disheartening, gloomy, and misleading comments about the economic and political situation of the country. But while it is easy to please and mislead the hoi polloi it will not be easy for these commentators to erase the mark of shame that they have self-inflicted upon themselves and their intellectual integrity.

To the incomparable achievements of the Samaras government in restructuring the economy, making it more competitive and freeing it from the dead weight of the public sector–which was a major cause that had brought Greece to the precipice of default and its citizens close to absolute poverty–that were the prerequisites for keeping the country within the European Union and with the latter’s financial help saving it from economic collapse that would have thrown its people, for at least a generation, into the hungry fangs of poverty, the Greek media, almost in toto, has not emitted one word of praise toward this remarkable performance of the government.

This accomplishment is unprecedented in the history of nations, that in a short period of two years any political leadership was able to accomplish and salvage their countries from bankruptcy. The Greek media, however, did not make one twit about this great accomplishment. On the contrary, it criticized the government, and often condemned it, of being responsible for the immiseration and economic suffering of its people, and of being the puppet of the European political elite, especially Chancellor Merkel of Germany. In a chorus of tragicomedy its commentators reproached and blamed the coalition of the Samaras government for accepting and implementing the austere policies of the second Memorandum, that were imposed by the European Commission as a condition for Greece’s continued financial assistance by the former, as being the cause of the calamitous economic blight that has scourged a major part of the population in the last two years. However in this prejudiced and populist castigation of the government by the media analysts, they studiously ignored the fact that the real culprits for this economic disaster were the leaders of past governments who had created a false and unsustainable economic prosperity, fuelled by loans and debts and passing the latter to future generations, and by creating a gargantuan flabby and totally inefficient public sector for the purpose of ensconcing their political clientele in leisurely unproductive jobs at the expense of the public purse. Hence, it was not the Memorandum that had brought the economic crisis and the level of unemployment to stratospheric heights, but the imprudent and foolhardy policies of past governments that led the country to the brink of insolvency that had brought the Memorandum with its inevitably austere remedies, and just as inevitably some errors in its policies, but which were tragically essential for Greece’s economic recovery. As is often the case throughout history, nations and men/women in great dangers can only be saved by the most severe measures.

The Samaras government did not flinch before this formidable responsibility and carried this hard task with the characteristic moral strength and intellectual astuteness of its leader. It surmounted the mountainous populist waves that a petty and completely incompetent, and by now, a historically obsolete amalgam of ex-communists and socialists, who compose the Opposition, Syriza, stirred among the populace with the aim to get rid of the government. And despite the fact it had the unions and its strikes on its side and using them as a battering-ram to overthrow the government, nor the fact that the media in general took a neutral stand and did not decry this disgraceful and dangerous action of the Opposition that would lead to the political destabilization of the country and would put in jeopardy all the successes of the government in pulling the country out of the crisis, the Opposition failed ignominiously in its goal.

Antonis Samaras, like Theseus, is finding Greece’s way out of the labyrinth of its economic crisis while the Greek media inexorably demeans itself by polluting its readers and viewers in a rancid flood of populist biased misleading comments and information, that puts the great accomplishments of the government and its exit from the crisis at an immense menacing risk.  

I rest on my oars:Your turn now!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Delegitimize States that Sponsor Terror

I'm republishing the following paper for the readers of this new website hoping to find it to be of some interest.


By Con George-Kotzabasis

The following paper was written on September 20, 2006, and was sent to President Bush on the same date. The reason why it's republished here in The...Journal, is that the Pentagon has now a secret plan to attack Iran within twenty four hours, according to investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker magazine.


Distinguished former diplomats, like Warren Christopher, Clinton’s Secretary of State, remain at their “postless”, no new messages on diplomacy, posts, and continue to argue on the virtues of old diplomacy. In his piece on the Washington Post, July 28, 2006, he calls for “negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties” in Lebanon, and asserts that a “permanent” and “sustainable” solution to the root causes of the conflict—which is the goal of the Bush administration—“is achievable, if at all, by protracted negotiations.” As an example of such successful diplomacy that occurred under his tenure as Secretary, he refers to the rocket attacks by Hezbollah in April 1996 against Israel and the countering of the latter with Operation Grapes of Wrath, that the Cagliostro like arts of diplomacy successfully stymied this confrontation and ushered a truce between the parties that lasted for ten years. He claims, that only by such broad-minded diplomacy that involves all the players in the region could America stop its “tattered reputation.” But he is completely mindless of the fact that this long Truce was neither permanent nor sustainable, but, merely, a respite for the Hezbollah during which the latter would militarily train and proselytize its militia with its fanatic deadly ideology and arm it with Katyusha rockets for a deadlier future confrontation with its mortal enemy, the Jewish State, as we now see.


To repeat therefore the diplomacy of the past in the present context in the face of these lessons given by this flauntingly failed diplomacy, is not only to repeat the mistakes of the past, but more grievously still, to weaken Israel and its Western allies against greater impending dangers in the future. As the upshot of another long Truce between the belligerents now would only benefit Hezbollah by making it politically, ideologically, and militarily even stronger, and loading this time the tips of its rockets with weapons of mass destruction, including tactical nuclear weapons, thus fulfilling President Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic foreboding of wiping Israel off the map. And needless to say, such an outcome would be a tremendous victory for global terror and a serious strategic reversal of the West’s war against it.


Furthermore, it would set in concrete the ambition of Iran to become the dominant power of the region, whose present trailblazing two-pronged strategy to forge an axis between Shi’ites and Sunnis, as the present pact between Iran and Syria illustrates, against their arch enemy Israel and to paralyze the EU and the US as a condominium to formulate an ironclad policy that would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are the means by which it will achieve its aim. Since, according to the Ahmadinejad regime, the grand diversion that Lebanon has provided will ease its task to acquire a nuclear arsenal, as the divisions that would be spawned by the Lebanon crisis among the Western countries and within the UN about how to handle the situation on the ground, would be of such a nature that would completely enervate the US and EU condominium from forging a position that would stop Iran from joining the nuclear club.


Hence the war in Lebanon may initially appear to be a local conflict between Israel and Hezbollah but in reality is a geopolitical conflict between Iran and the Western powers since the former will be using the conflagration of Lebanon as a fulcrum to achieve its strategic goals (a) to acquire nuclear weapons, (b) to emerge as the predominant power in the region, (c) to become the leader of the Muslim world, and (d) to establish in the world the millenarian regime of the twelfth imam Mahdi. As the respected Middle East analyst Amir Taheri wrote in The Australian, on August 7, 06, “to Ahmadinejad to wipe off Israel is the first step toward defeating the ‘infidel’ West”. He furthermore quotes Iran’s state controlled media as saying “that Lebanon would become the graveyard of the Bush plan for a new Middle East”. And Tehran believes, “that a victory by Hezbollah…will strengthen Ahmadinejad’s bid for the leadership of radical Islam”. And Taheri comes to the conclusion “all the talk of a ceasefire, all the diplomatic gesticulation may ultimately mean little in what is an existential conflict”.


Will the “new” diplomacy, as embodied in the unanimously approved resolution by the UN Security Council, in its stylishly dashing French clothes, but worn, by the old decrepit body of diplomatic thinking, bring the long desired, but up till now evanescent, permanent and sustainable solution to the region that so many attempts in the past failed to do? The auguries for such an outcome however, are far from favorable. The Council’s resolution calls for a halt to the fighting and Israel’s withdrawal “in parallel” with the deployment of UN peacekeepers and 15,000 Lebanese troops who will attempt to create a buffer zone in South Lebanon free of the Hezbollah militia. However, the resolution vaguely refers to the disarmament and dismantling of the latter, that is pivotal to a permanent and sustainable peace between Israel and Lebanon and whether such international force and the Lebanese army--which is riddled with Hezbollah sympathizers--even if they had a clear mandate to disarm Hezbollah, would have been able to accomplish this task, given the unambiguous statements of Hezbollah that it will not disarm. Nor does the resolution take a firm and implacable stand in stopping the supply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.


Hence, the dragon teeth of Hezbollah are still planted deep in Lebanon’s soil, presaging an even greater and more dangerous conflagration in the future between the warring parties, especially if Iran stealthily slips into the nuclear club. The UN resolution therefore is merely a soporific. It will provide a couch to Israel and Hezbollah so they can both lay down in a temporary state of dormancy until Hezbollah feels strong enough, in its never ending act, to wipe Israel off the map. Thus, the future confrontation will be by far more deadly than the present one, as possibly hundreds of thousands will lose their lives.


America's New Strategic Diplomacy

Surely the American leadership must be aware of this lugubrious scenario that has been staged by this toothless resolution of the Security Council. Unless they have in mind a second stronger swift resolution that will be addressing the complete disarmament and dismantling of Hezbollah and irrevocably stopping Syria and Iran from supplying weapons to its proxy, they will entangle and compromise their up to now clear strategic position in the strategically myopic, unimaginative, fickle, and flabby diplomatic stance of their allies in continental Europe. It will be the ultimate folly, post 9/11, once you have identified your irreconcilable, implacable, and mortal enemy, as the Bush administration has done, to render the enemy and its proxies respites that will strengthen their military capability and make them even more dangerous as well as more difficult to defeat in the future, instead of destroying them at their weakest moment, as no kind of diplomacy ante 9/11, no matter how brilliantly conceived, can achieve the complete destruction of this infernal enemy.
The Bush administration being presumably aware of this fact, i.e., of the complete inadequacy of the old diplomacy, of which so many of its "encoreists", such as Richard Holbrooke and Madeleine Albright, are continuing to give it “standing ovations”, does seem to be willing--despite its tactical errors in Iraq that have given rise to a rampant insurgency making the war more difficult to win and as a result of this making some members of the Administration more circumspect to launch another attack, this time on Iran--to take leave of its circumspection and embrace a more hawkish diplomacy that would be much more successful than the effete and barren diplomacy of the past. Such robust diplomacy will not be draped in the smooth velvety apparels of “old” Europe or in the tattered garments of the United Nations, but will be draped in the bristling carapace of a porcupine. While there will not be a scarcity of carrots in the exercise of this armed diplomacy, the sticks will be deadly in their threatening application against those intransigent nations that continue overtly or covertly to sponsor terrorists and use them as proxies to achieve their geopolitical and millenarian goals. The axis of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah will have the kiss of death planted on its forehead by this no “frills” American diplomacy. But the angel of death in this new diplomacy will be last in the queue. Before the US deploys as a last resort its lethal arsenal against the axis, it will in the incipient stages of this diplomacy call for the de-legitimatization of Iran and Syria as states that sponsor terror. Iran and Syria will become pariah states and will be isolated from the rest of the world. The only avenues that will remain open between the former and the latter will be the economic ones. But the economic transactions between de-legitimate states and the rest of the world will proceed not through individual states but through an intermediary channel, an international consortium whose representatives will be enlisted from the de jure states of the world who will deal with the economic representatives of the outlaw states. Such procedure will place the free world in a powerful negotiating position to impose its own economic regime on the outlaw states.


Needless to say, some nations will not accept, and will not abide, this “outlawing” of Iran and Syria and will continue to have their relations with the latter unchanged. But as long as the major nations of the world hold the line, this recalcitrance of these nations will in no way loosen the tightness of the noose around the throats of the outlaws, as the latter will be banned from attending all international forums where the important decisions in the affairs of the world are made.


The chances that the call for the de-legitimatization of states that sponsor terror, as a diplomatic move to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, are quite high that it will rally many nations to support such a call as the best alternative to an American military attack against Iran, particularly, when such an attack would result in a great loss of lives as well as have the potential to throw the world’s economy into the doldrums, as it’s the latter as well as their electoral base that many European nations are mainly concerned with in the advent of an American attack on Iran. The exercise of this new adroit American diplomacy will address therefore both the concerns of the Europeans and the fears of Iran. It will have, on the one hand, enough carrots in its diplomatic basket to feed the Europeans and to entice them to the idea that the outlawing of Iran is the better option for all concerned than a devastating military confrontation with the latter, and on the other, it will have enough sticks to coerce Iran to abandon its goal to acquire nuclear weapons. In the intense pressure of the vice that the Ahmadinejad regime will find itself both as a possibly ostracized de-legitimate state or as a military target of the Americans, the odds are that the regime will succumb to this pressure. In the event that it sticks to its guns, then it will play Russian roulette with its own people, as such a stand will strengthen the internal opposition against the “mullahcratic” regime. And as the majority of Iranians shift behind the Opposition parties this could lead to the fall of the theocratic regime of Ahmadinejad by an army revolt that would act in the name of such strong opposition from the people.


The success of this diplomacy will depend entirely on the Bush administration making it unambiguously clear to its European allies, as well as Russia and China, of its utter determination that in the event the proposal to de-legitimatize states that sponsor terror is not adopted by the major nations of the world, then the US will have no other option but to attack militarily the rogue states that sponsor terror, and Iran will be the first one and more likely than not the only one, as the other ones will follow the example of Libya and cave in. It’s inconceivable to imagine, that the European nations, as well as China, for which the sine qua non for its present stratospheric economic development is the economic stability of the world, will be so dim-witted not to accept the American proposal and risk the chance that the Bush administration will not deliver on its threat.


Hence, this hawkish US diplomacy is far from being a long shot in persuading the major nations of the world to outlaw states that sponsor terror. Moreover, it has the great potential as a dual realizable threat to outlaw Iran or attack it militarily, to coerce the latter to unequivocally abide by the demands of the international community. In the event that the Ahmadinejad regime remains unwilling to discard its obsession to possess nuclear weapons and continues to defy the European Union and the United States in their demand to stop supplying its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah, with weapons, then the call will be on “the angel of death”, draped in stars and stripes, to jump the queue and put an end to this apocalyptic threat that stems from the regime of the mullahs.


Hic Rhodus Hic Salta

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Greece: Indecisive Voters Will Determine Result of Triple Elections

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 17, 2014

On the 18th and 25th of May respectively, Greeks will be voting in the country’s municipalities and prefectures, and for the European Parliament. According to all polls, the contest between the major parties of the Coalition Government of New Democracy/Pasok and Syriza will be very close, and apparently the indecisive voters, who comprise 12% of the electors, will determine which of the major parties will win the elections.


In my opinion, the majority of this indecisive section of the electorate will cast their vote in favour of the Samaras Government—especially in the European parliamentary elections--and thus the latter will be the winner of the triple elections. My reasoning is that if this part of the electorate was inclined and had a strong feeling to protest against the government, for the harsh austerity measures the latter had to implement, it would already have shown this inclination by intimating to the pollsters that it would vote for the Opposition Party of Syriza. It seems therefore to me that the undecided voters are more concerned about the political stability of the country and the slow but robust steps that the Samaras government is taking in pulling the country out of the crisis, which all serious international observers acknowledge and most economic indicators show, and thus will vote for the security the government accomplished in keeping Greece within Europe, than the insecurity the left-wing Opposition Party of Syriza represents with its dangerous and foolhardy policies that could lead to the ousting of Greece from Europe and to the economic catastrophe of the country.