I read today that “Greece debt crisis: Athens accepts harsh austerity as bailout deal nears“.
And we see everywhere discourse about whose at fault: the Greeks, the Germans, the EU, the IMF, the bondholders,
I think the proverbial elephant in the room is this: “collective punishment.”
The Greek government lied about the state of their finances to get into the EU. The Greek government (ably assisted by their hired servants Goldman Sachs) lied to bond-buyers. But when these lies blow up, it’s the Greek people that bear the brunt of the punishment—perhaps all of the punishment. As in Palestine. Even the current government are not suffering the effects of their decisions: the ex-finance minister departing the country on his motorcycle paints a romantic image, but perhaps not so cool from this point of view: it represents everything that is wrong with holding a people responsible for the actions of their government.
Perhaps what should have happened in 2009 might instead have taken pages from the UN playbook for failed states and from company liquidators, as follows:
- For having bankrupt the country, the government is sacked. (This comes from the liquidators playbook.)
- An all-party transitional government is established under UN mandate. (Not the EU, because they are not independent in this case.)
- The EU sends in massive humanitarian aid to ensure that no-one is harmed at the grassroots. (The EU, because they should pay.)
- A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is established with powers of international subpoena, and all people with a finger in the disaster have to show up and confess their role to the Greek people and to the world—but (following Mandela and Gusmao) no punishment. (Because getting at the truth and healing the nation is more important than punishing a few individuals.)
- Only once an viable forward economy plan is adopted is a new government elected.
- Only once the plan has the country on a stable footing does humanitarian assistance end.