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Greece, Europe, and the United States

"A progressive Europe—the Europe of sustainable growth and social cohesion—would be one thing. The gridlocked, reactionary, petty, and vicious Europe that actually exists is another. It cannot and should not last for very long."

By James K. Galbraith

The full brutality of the European position on Greece emerged last weekend, when Europe’s leaders rejected the Greek surrender document of June 9, and insisted instead on unconditional surrender plus reparations. The new diktat—formally accepted by Greece yesterday—requires 50 billion euros’ worth of “good assets”–which incidentally do not exist—to be transferred to a privatization fund; all financial legislation passed since SYRIZA took control of parliament in January to be rolled back; and the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) to return to Athens. From now on, the Greek government must get approval from these institutions before introducing “relevant” legislation—indeed, even before opening that legislation for public comment. In short: as of now, Greece is no longer an independent state.

Comparisons have been drawn to the Treaty of Versailles, which set Europe on the path to Nazism after the end of World War I. But the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, which ended a small country’s brave experiment in policy independence, is almost as good an analogy. In crushing Czechoslovakia, the invasion also destroyed the Soviet Union’s reputation, shattering the illusions that many sympathetic observers still harbored. It thus set the stage for the final collapse of Communism, first among the parties of Western Europe and then in the USSR itself.

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