Angelos Stangos ANGELOS STANGOS

Cynicism and humor

COMMENT

TAGS: EU, Politics, Referendum

Reliable sources have said that at the recent European Union summit in which David Cameron made his last appearance as British prime minister after the country voted to leave the bloc, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivered the line of the day, spreading laughter among the attending leaders. In short, he chided his British counterpart – the irony is clear – for going ahead with a referendum without having a plan B. Whether this denotes incredible cynicism or a venomous sense of humor, or not, it allows the rest of us to assume that Tsipras had his own plan B at the back of his mind, the one that was so fully revealed by American economist James Galbraith in his book “Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe.”

It has yet to be determined whether the notorious Plan X was one hatched by the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition for the day after a voluntary Greek exit from the eurozone or whether it was a contingency measure to be applied if the country’s creditors forced it out. What we can be certain about is that the basis of this plan was shaped in Austin, where Galbraith teaches at the University of Texas, where former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was a guest professor in 2013 and where Tsipras was invited to attend a conference in November that same year. What we also know is that both Galbraith and Varoufakis claim that the prime minister wanted to be fully briefed about the plan, which would have been implemented in the case of Grexit, and also the fact that the government’s complete volte-face came at the 12th hour instead of the 11th. We can therefore assume with a great deal of certainty that specific forces came into play at the time, so the “No” of the Greek referendum could be turned into a “Yes,” with all that later entailed.

We cannot know whether the government’s real intentions will ever come to light, but we can imagine the complete and utter destruction that Grexit would have brought based on the effects of the Brexit decision today. After all, the measures of the government’s plan B, as its designers admit, leave little doubt that Greece would have been transformed into a police state (with the military playing the role of the police), mired in abject poverty. When Brexit causes the pound to slide, the real estate market to creak, investments to be halted, the flight of businesses, insecurity among workers and sends shock waves through Europe (according to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Brexit has hit banks in Italy) in a mighty country like the UK, we can safely assume that Grexit would simply wipe Greece off the map. Nevertheless, the prime minister insisted – with cynicism and humor – to celebrate the “No” that became a “Yes.”

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