Monday, September 26, 2011

More blogs out there than sand grains on the beach - what is a boy to do to make his mark? And will the colonels return to Greece? That's what the CIA thinks (according to the rumour)

Surprisingly enough, I am not the only bod conceited enough to record his thoughts in a blog, and furthermore there is any number of blogs out there in what in the early pioneering days was called ‘cyberspace’ passing on their thoughts on the euro crisis. I discovered exactly how many when I came across a suggestion on the BBC News website outlining different possible outcomes to the euro crisis http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14977728 that the CIA has warned of a military coup in Greece. This rather intrigued me, because BBC, despite apparently being staffed wholesale by lefties (©Daily Mail), is, as a rule, rather circumspect in its pronouncements and is not given to making foolish claims lightly. For one thing the level of editorial control is such that anything published on its website will be seen and checked by at least three people. So, I reckoned, there must be at least a little credence in the suggestion that the CIA is actually worried that there might be a military coup.
I’ve previously thought that such a coup was not utterly impossible – as I have previously written that both Portugal and Greece, of the Med nations, have only been democracy for less than 35 years and were ruled by dictators before that. But the crucial difference between me and the CIA is that I am just some obscure blogger with more opinions than sense but the CIA has access to quite a bit of information, not least from the U.S. ambassador in Athens as well as from its ‘station’ if these days it bothers having a station in Athens. (Might sound odd to write that but I recently read a book by a Robert Baer, a retired CIA operative, who was dismayed that the new generation of the CIA upper echelon is far more in favour of intelligence gathered by eavesdropping than for running agents on the ground. Baer also suggested that current thinking means stations around the world were being closed down. Whether or not that is true, I don’t know – how could I? – but that is what he claimed. So it is reasonable to ask whether a CIA station was once existed is still operating in Athens or whether it has been downgraded to a chap with a mobile phone and a laptop sipping ouzo in a taverna.)
Whatever is the case, the chances are that the CIA is in a better position to know what is going on that good old me. So after reading that the BBC was repeating the CIA’s fears I googled ‘military coup 2011 greece cia’ and there they were – thousands upon thousands of blogs all saying the same thing. Trouble is
they might all be repeating the same silly rumour, but given the nature of the web a rumour can, almost within minutes, become established fact. And then it even occurred to me that perhaps the BBC, despite it levels of editorial control, had fallen for what is, perhaps, nothing but a rumour.
So listen up: there are claims out there that the CIA has warned of a possible military coup in Greece. Whether or not they have any substance I don’t know. And nor do you. The only people who would know are the good folk in Langley, Virginia, and I can’t see them emailing me once they have read this either confirming or denying the claim. And even if they did email me and tell me something either way, there would be no way of knowing they were telling the truth. Would there?

. . .

If, hypothetically, there were a military coup in Greece, I wonder what the reaction of the EU commissariat in Brussels would be? Going by previous reactions to crises, I think they would restrict themselves to ‘condemning in absolute terms and unequivocally the events in Greece’ and promising a definitive response ‘by Christmas’. That’s what they are good at. If issuing statements of intent, condemnation and reassurance – loads and loads of those these past few months to ‘calm the money markets’ – were a marketable commodity, the EU leadership would be rich beyond its wildest dreams. It firmly believes that frantic activity is the same as consequential action which is why very little seems to get done, althoughgetting everyone in ‘the club’ to agree to the latest proposal can never be easy. Trouble is, activity never was the same as action and it never will be.
So what would happen if the colonels again took over Greece (promising elections in a few months’ time, of course – they all do that)? Well, bugger all, really. There would be a lot of hand-wringing, especially on the left, but there is not much that could be done. Would Greece be suspended from the EU? They did something along those lines - though I can’t remember what - a while back when some unsavoury far right type in Austria looked like getting quite a bit of support. Actually, rather then Greece being suspended, I should imagine the first thing this hypothetical group of colonels would do would be to dump the euro and go back to the drachma. That (according to my reading - I would hate you to think I know what I am talking about) would benefit the country in the short term but would stoke up inflation in the long term. And I should also think it would tell the EU to go and take a running jump. Undoubtedly, there would be a lot of trouble from the country’s left, but if, initially at least, my hypothetical colonels ensured that the economy stabilised and that civil servants were paid again, they might find they had rather more support than the left.
Naturally, ‘the markets’, as we are now obliged to call them, wouldn’t know what to do. They would like it if my hypothetical colonels brought stability, but they would also know that these colonels, unless they were wise, might be unwilling to honour Greece’s debts. In fact, they might believe the best thing to do would be to seal of Greece from much of Europe, and only allow tourism - they would need the income - and the export of what Greece is good at exporting. Most worrying for the EU would be that other countries might be encouraged by the action of my hypothetical colonels - and then the Europoean dream would be well and truly over. The EU would probably shrink back into a rump of of the 12 states which once formed the then European Community before Delors and his ilk decided to go for broke and try for a ‘United States of Europe’. What Britain would do, I really don’t know. Probably just lose the Ashes to Australia again. That’s the kind of thing we do in a crisis. Oh, and get roaring drunk.

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