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Some Sane American Voices in Support of Greek Referendum

July 6, 2015 (EIRNS)—A few prominent public voices in the United States have come out, since Sunday, with strong statements of support for the Greek government and the Greek people, for rejecting the austerity path and risking the uncertainty of what will come next. Leading among these voices was Jared Bernstein, formerly the chief economic aide to Senator and then Vice President Joe Biden, now with the Center on Budgetary and Policy Priorities. In a Washington Post op-ed, posted on Sunday evening, July 5, soon after the Greek election results were announced, Bernstein praised the Greek people for repudiating the failed policies of austerity imposed by the Troika and “reassert[ing] the democratic self-determination of the Greek people, even when the opposition was threatening to shut down their banking system.”

Bernstein noted that, with an unemployment rate of more than 25% and youth unemployment double that figure, the Greek voters concluded that there was

“only so much economic pain a sovereign nation will accept in the name of ‘austerity’ without trying to fight back.”

Bernstein cited the recently disclosed IMF report, that concluded that Greece could not pay its debt, and could only grow out of the current crisis by a major debt write-down. He expressed an optimistic view that

“this vote might shake the players out of their bad equilibrium. Of course, it’s also possible that everyone will snap back to their old ways, which will quickly lead to cascading defaults, a Greek exit from the eurozone, and a period of great upheaval as the Greeks reintroduce their own currency.”

Bernstein’s conclusion:

“The way forward isn’t clear, but at least a majority of Greeks are trying to move in a different direction. In the name of democracy and sane economics, we should support them.”

Paul Krugman, in a column dated July 5 in the New York Times echoed the same theme, in even more blunt language. Krugman assailed the Troika for promoting a strategy of regime change under the guise of negotiations.

“The campaign of bullying—the attempt to terrify Greeks by cutting off bank financing and threatening general chaos, all with the almost open goal of pushing the current leftist government out of office—was s ahemeful moment in a Europe that claims to believe in democratic principles. It would have set a terrible precedent if that campaign had succeeded, even if the creditors were making sense.”

He continued,

“What’s more, they weren’t. The truth is that Europe’s self-styled technocrats are like medieval doctors who insisted on bleeding their patients—and when their treatment made the patients sicker, demanded even more bleeding.”

Krugman concluded that Greece will probably be better off leaving the euro.

“If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.”