The Greek Trap

Conclusion of a column by Roger Cohen in The New York Times, June 8

The European Union has done its healing work here. There will not be another civil war, come what may. The sun will still shine; a gazillion islands will still delight; Greeks will still curse every form of authority; they will still smoke in every restaurant in defiance of the law; they will still have more money than they appear to have; tables in cheap “tavernas” will still offer views that have no price. A Greek meltdown is not the same as a Slovakian meltdown. Life is not just.

So many mistakes have been made. They began with the sentimental illusion that the cradle of Western civilization was also an economy competitive enough to join the euro. It was not. Then came all the easy credit handed out in the era when the view was that risk had ceased to exist. The inevitable Greek implosion was followed by austerity measures whose symbol was Germany. These failed to offer Greeks a positive vision of what all the sacrifice might produce. The consequent anger created Syriza and its election victory and incoherent promises of a new way forward. Everyone is now caught in the web of their own contradictions.

More of the same might gain a few months. It will resolve nothing, sapping Europe’s energy, and Greece’s potential, for years to come.


One response to “The Greek Trap

  1. Jan Krouzil

    While Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis makes a potent splash with his sharp critique of neoclassical economics, Prime Minister Tsipras defiantly stirs the geopolitical waters with his daring strategies. As for Greece itself, it appears to be groping melodramatically towards reaching some semi-palatable form of congruous (in)dependency.