Over the weekend Greece elected a communist party – working name Syriza – to head its next government. Syriza promised a bald-faced lie as a solution to the country’s longstanding and deepening economic crisis. The country is flat broke, produces little that the world wants or can easily get from others, is totally underwater in debt with its unemployment running rampant. This is fertile ground for super simplistic ‘solutions’ that have been fed loudly and often to its desperate and little-minded. And the further left the promising political party, the simpler is the proposed solution. In this case Syriza convinced enough Greeks that the return to economic health will be through simply abandoning austerity and refusing to meet its debt obligations.
After the dust settles from their victory celebrations (pictured), Syriza’s communist economic policies will be hard to hide. The country’s EU lenders have already promised not to forgive Greeks their loans (they bit on that once, and got taken twice). And there are only so many Greek olives, pasta, and wines that the world can be induced to buy.
Greece’s ace in the hole may be its NATO membership. But looking at what Greece can provide the other NATO members in that department does not yield much. So let me suggest something unexamined. It seems to me that Greece can play its ace by threatening to resign NATO and invite Vladimir Vladimirovich (that’s Russian for Putin Jr) to establish a very large naval base in the Mediterranean, unencumbered by a Bosporous/Dardanelles controlled by another NATO member and former invader of Mother Russia. Russia is also economically on its butt, but the Russians are made of sterner stuff and more used to austerity. They will allow Putin to spend what foreign reserves are required to protect their country’s honor in the underbelly of the west.
Putin will jump at the chance of extending its sphere of influence into the Mediterranean, and he will give no thought to America’s response to the matter. Why? because under Obama we have reverted to the global status we had in the 1930s when our military, and therefore our diplomacy was no longer a factor in the decisions of other world leaders – especially bad actors like Hitler, Stalin, and Tojo – leading up to WW2. Today our military and defense developments are contracting precipitously (more here), and we are a nation again tired of wars blamed for every imaginable ill we suffer. So as we once more retract our ability to project power, America and its interests are again no longer a relevant factor in the geo-strategic decisions made outside our borders that will change our fortunes and the world.
Having a weak and incompetent national leader with demonstrated credentials has consequences, and one of them may be the rise of America’s own version of Syriza promising a glory road ahead if only we ignore our debts and eliminate income inequality through massive increases in the tribute our wealth producers must pay on their assets and earnings. This, we are told, would not be done in an attempt to return to a sound economy. No, it must be done to achieve social justice across the land which is reward enough. You don’t have to listen too carefully to hear the clarion calls for us to collectively march down that road.