It would be useful to organize a mock negotiation that centered on a real-life scenario and its terms. We could put together a national negotiation team comprising all of Greece?s political leaders ? the tough guys and those who are keeping a level head during the crisis. The team would be fully briefed by the governor of the Central Bank of Greece, the General Accounting Office and a team of experts in finance and debt management.
The main part of the simulation would concern negotiations with the troika. These would probably end with the more extreme elements of the mock team throwing the troika inspectors out on their ear and telling them to get back to their bosses for a better deal or else Greece will declare a unilateral moratorium on its debt repayment if not a complete write-off. In the next stage of the mock negotiations, some tough guy or other would start making calls to the big guns such as Barack Obama, Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel and Mario Monti. He would explain that he represents the overwhelming majority of Greeks and start making outrageous demands, ending in threats that if he doesn?t get what he wants he will blow the whole deal out of the water. In the best-case scenario, the entire negotiating team would then be called to convene with the main international players at some neutral venue. More likely, the telephone calls would end with the usual recommendation for further discussions with the troika?s inspectors.
You may wonder why I dismiss the possibility that a politician who puts on a tough act could get more money from the country?s European partners and more lenient terms from its creditors. I dismiss it because the issue is complex and Greece is faced with tough dilemmas rather than magical solutions.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and anyone else who has sat at the negotiating table with the troika are not cowards or traitors. Some of them may have been clueless or frightened at first. But seeing what Spain is going through and knowing what Cyprus has yet to experience, we must realize that Greece is not the victim of a conspiracy. There are no traitors and no tough guys in this story. Samaras and Stournaras are striving to negotiate the best possible deal for Greece with the troika. If they believed that threats could work, then surely they would have tried that tactic by now.
It?s easy to talk big on television and on Twitter, and especially from the seat of the opposition. But the real tough guy is the person who embraces his responsibilities toward his people and withstands the pressure.