Trust the world’s bankers – They know what they’re doing!

Good news for the global economy, from the economists at Time Magazine . . .

What the World Can Learn from the Greek Debt Crisis

jesus save greeceOn Aug. 21, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the end of his country’s bailout era from the island of Ithaca*, a reference to the successful end of the Odyssey and its hero’s arrival home. Given Greece’s ongoing economic challenges, the more apt mythological analogy would have been Sisyphus rolling an immense boulder up a hill—only for it to roll down when it nears the top.

Ten years and more than $300 billion in rescue loans later, the country has begun its recovery, but Greeks still have an economy that’s 25 percent smaller than it was before the crisis began. Its unemployment rate is the highest in the Eurozone. A third of Greeks now live in poverty or close to it. In terms of length and severity, Greece’s economic slide is comparable to the U.S. Great Depression.

There are lessons here for the rest of the world. Here are some of the biggest.

greek austerityAusterity politics are dangerous, even if some countries, like Germany, still haven’t gotten the message. Populism is the driving political concern in today’s world, and austerity politics like those championed by policymakers in Berlin add fuel to the fire in two distinct ways. They widen the divide between haves and the have-notswithin individual societies, helping to make resentment and fear the driving forces in domestic politics. They also exacerbate inequality among European member states: Germany and Greece have seemingly never been as far apart in terms of quality of life as they are today. 

Austerity may be good at balancing bank accounts, but it’s disastrous at shrinking widening inequality of both the economic and political varieties. Europe will continue to pay the price for that miscalculation for years to come.

Relatedly, the failure of austerity politics in Greece has created strange anti-establishment bedfellows. the right-left divide of politics gives way to the “Us vs. Them” politics that pits political upstarts against the establishment, with increasingly little concern given to actual policy overlap. the Syriza-Independent Greeks coalition government it’s looking increasingly as a sign of things to come, heralding a future of increased political paralysis.

GREECE-ECONOMY-DEBT-EU-IMF-DEMOAnother critical lesson the Greek ordeal has taught the world: In the 21st century, the economic troubles of the present can extend far into the future. While most reports on Greece have understandably focused on the economic misery of the moment, the real tragedy of Greece’s lost decade of economic growth is that it will shortly become a lost generation of economic growth, even if the economy could manage to magically snap back to its pre-crisis levels tomorrow. Nearly 500,000 Greeks have already fled the country in search of better opportunities abroad, and there is little hope of these people returning as they start their careers and families elsewhere. 

This is not the first time there’s been a mass migration of Greek workers, but the ones leaving this time around are the most educated and capable individuals that the Greek educational system has produced. Their flight means that Greece’s already-broken pension system will be starved of the country’s most economically productive members, and will exacerbate a looming demographic crunch already in the making as the elderly and the young get left behind. In a globalized world where the movement of people is now easier than ever (and particularly within the European Union), a country’s current economic missteps have the potential to reverberate for years to come. 

As Greece continues to claw its way back to financial health [sic!], other countries would do well to track Greece’s progress. Nearly 3,000 years on from Homer’s epic poems, the country still has much to teach the world.

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*Ithaca -a tiny Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and to the west of continental Greece. Ithaca’s main island has an area of 96 square kilometres and had a population in 2011 of 3,231.

So why didn’t Mr Tsipras announce his “good news” to crowds of adoring grateful supporters in the Greek capital of Athens? No prizes for answering that one!

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The first genocide of the 20th century

Europe struggles to atone for its colonial evils

Anti-populist minoritarian denialists for whataboutism

I learned another new word this week. Well, I’m always learning new words in Turkish – this one is English, my native language, in which I consider myself to have a pretty extensive vocabulary. What’s the word? Whatboutism

-ism/-ist are very useful suffixes in English. You attach them to the end of a noun or adjective and suddenly you have a belief system, usually with negative connotations, implying a fanatical adherence to a set of principles often justifying violence to those not belonging to the group; or at the very least, defending an indefensible point-of-view.

Examples: Communism, capitalism, Nazism, fundamentalist, evangelism, extremist, Islamist, Marxist, and so on.

In recent years, the following have become popular.

denialist/ism –people who think they have the right to deny something I am accusing them of. Implication? These people should just shut up and admit they are wrong and I am right!

majoritarianism –the mistaken belief that winning an election allows the elected party to get on with the job of governing a country. Implication? Even though my party of choice was unsuccessful, I still want things to be done my way.

populism/ist –a pejorative term applied by the losers to the winners of an election, even when, as in the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the Big DT was only supported by 26% of eligible voters.

And now we have whataboutism– a debating technique allowing the user to accuse me of any and every evil deed, while denying me the right to point out that other people (or countries) are guilty of equal or often worse crimes.

Thanks toThe Washington Post for publishing the following account of the 20th century’s first genocide – will someone please bring it to the attention of Pope Francis, when he has time to spare from defending his cardinals against the victims of child abuse and pedophilia.

germany-namibia-herero-skulls.width-800At a handover ceremony held in a Berlin church on Wednesday, Namibian officials received the remains of indigenous people killed in their country by German forces more than a century ago. The grisly contents included 19 skulls, a scalp and bones belonging to five skeletons, all of which had been housed for decades on dusty shelves in German universities and museums.

kaiser_main_1695446fThe remains are a visceral link to a hideous past — what many historians recognize as the first genocide of the 20th century. Between 1904 and 1908, colonial forces in what was then German South West Africa carried out the widespread massacre of Herero and Nama tribespeople. Estimates suggest as many as 80 percent of the nomadic Herero tribe — believed to number around 100,000 a century ago — perished, either killed by German soldiers or left to die of thirst and starvation in the desert.

In October 1904, Lothar von Trotha, the German commander in Namibia, delivered his infamous “extermination” order, dictating that “every Herero, with or without rifles, with or without cattle, will be shot.” The following year, he issued a similar warning concerning the Nama; some 10,000 are believed to have been killed.

The violence and indignity did not end there. Moved by the racist eugenics of the time, German authorities shipped thousands of skulls and other body parts of the aboriginal dead back to Europe. The specimens were subjected to studies that formed the basis for now-discredited theories of European racial superiority.

dsc_6574-2.jpgMany of the skulls belonged to tribesmen left to die in squalid concentration camps in the desert; their bodies were beheaded. In some instances, according to a 2011 article in Der Spiegel, widows were ordered to use shards of glass to scrape the flesh off their husbands’ heads so as to better prepare the skulls for transport.

The vileness of these acts is part and parcel of a far broader history. The Germans were hardly alone in slaughtering local populations or hoarding the body parts of slain natives. Myriad museums, clinics and universities in Europe still house remains of colonized peoples, who were sometimes killed explicitly for the purpose of augmenting these morbid collections.

Many Herero in Namibia are awaiting a formal German apology for the genocide of their ancestors. Officials in Berlin committed in 2016 to extending an apology, but they are still in negotiations with the Namibian government over the wording of an official statement. Analysts say the German government doesn’t want to commit to an apology that could make it liable for reparations.

c2bc3439f9145394b389693d4aeed376b3c08e71054d5122a452992bf4fd8b2bOn Wednesday, Michelle Müntefering, the minister of state at the German foreign office, said that “Germany is firmly committed to its historic responsibility” and asked the Namibian delegation for “forgiveness,” but stopped short of an official apology.

European governments are notoriously averse to offering formal apologies, while the right-wing populists ascendant in countries such as France, Britain and Germany — inflamed by various forms of imperial nostalgia — decry the supposed shame complexes of the left. Germany’s far-right AfD has even urged its compatriots to get over their “guilt cult” about Nazi-era crimes.

Turkey celebrates Victory Day

96th anniversary of Atatürk’s military and political achievement

As Turkey commemorates the 96th anniversary of the ultimate battle of its War of Liberation, renowned Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı has said the victory gave a message to the world that “we are here to stay,” thanks to the “military and political prodigy” of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

dumlupınar

Cemetery and memorial commemorating the decisive battle of Turkey’s War of Liberation

In an interview with Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, Ortaylı, an history professor at Istanbul’s Galatasaray University, recalled that Seljuk Turks took control over Anatolia after the Battle of Dorylaeum with the then crusaders during the First Crusade in July 1, 1097, near the city of Dorylaeum located close to Turkey’s Eskişehir province. This allowed Turks to settle in Anatolia.

Turkish domination in Anatolia began with the Battle of Malazgirt in Aug. 26, 1071, which saw Seljuk Turks led by Sultan Alparslan defeat a Byzantine army.

[Ortaylı] recalled that the then global powers wanted Turks to leave Anatolia after the First World War.

“They [the then Entente States, also known as Allied Powers] tried to get it [Anatolia], but they failed to achieve their aim,” Ortaylı said, adding that the Entente states, especially Britain, wanted Turks to leave Anatolia on the grounds that they were supposedly “outlanders” and thus could not be a part of Anatolia.

Therefore, Turkey’s decisive victory on Aug. 30, 1922, which was later “legitimized” by the Lausanne Agreement, was a “we are here to stay” message to the world, Ortaylı said.

The well-known Turkish historian also recalled the Greek Commander Ioannis Metaxas’s warning against launching an offensive in Anatolia. Metaxas had refused to launch the offensive and told Greek politicians that the war in Turkey could not be won, Ortaylı said.

“The Turks developed a national feeling,” the author, David Fromkin, quoted Metaxas as saying in his book “A Peace to End All Peace”. “And they mean to fight for their freedom and independence. They realize that Asia Minor is their country and that we are invaders. For them, for their national feelings, the historical rights on which we base our claims, have no influence.” 

Turkey was occupied by allied forces after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War (1914-1918). The foreign occupation prompted Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, in which Turkish forces — led by Gen. Mustafa Kemal — eventually drove the invaders from Anatolia.

From Aug. 26 to Aug. 30 of 1922, Turkish forces fought the Battle of Dumlupınar (considered part of the Greco-Turkish War) in Turkey’s western Kütahya province, where Greek forces were decisively defeated.

By the end of 1922, all foreign forces had left the territories which would collectively become the new Republic of Turkey one year later.

Europe should react to US sanctions targeting Turkey, China, Russia: German FM

Germany’s foreign minister on Aug. 27 criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for imposing sanctions against trade partners like Turkey, China and Russia.

Heiko MaasSpeaking at the annual Ambassadors’ Conference in Berlin, Heiko Maas vowed to take measures to protect European firms from such unilateral sanctions.

“Washington’s sanctions policy forces us Europeans to formulate a response. Because it is affecting us, Germany and Europe, when the U.S. abruptly and unilaterally imposing often unspecified sanctions against Russia, China, Turkey and maybe in the future against our other important trading partners,” he stressed.

Maas argued that the European Union member states should take joint steps against the U.S. dominance in global finance, and proposed a European alternative to the U.S.-dominated SWIFT payment system.

“We have to further strengthen the autonomy and sovereignty of Europe in the fields of trade, economy and finance policies,” he stressed.

“It’s not going to be easy but we have already started working on it. We are working on proposals to establish independent payment channels and creating a European Monetary Fund,” he added.

Maas is scheduled to visit Turkey next month to discuss bilateral ties and regional issues.

During his two-day visit on Sept. 5-6, Heiko Maas is expected to meet his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and other senior officials in the capital Ankara.

Later the two top diplomats will travel to Istanbul for a celebration at the city’s German School marking its 150th anniversary.

Maas’ trip to Turkey comes ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s key visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29.

Over the past two years political relations between Ankara and Berlin have suffered setbacks, but in recent months both sides have taken steps towards improving ties.

EU heavyweight Germany remains Turkey’s main economic and trade partner, despite political disagreements between the governments on a number of issues.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/europe-should-react-to-us-sanctions-targeting-turkey-china-turkey-german-fm-136189

http://english.almanar.com.lb/568742

Turkey celebrates Victory Week

Turkish president Erdoğan marks 1071 victory at Malazgirt

Turkey’s president on Aug. 25 marked the anniversary of the Battle of Malazgirt (Manzikert), a historic victory for the Turks in Anatolia nearly a millennium ago, praising Turkish people’s determination to protect their independence.

MalazgirtThe Battle of Malazgirt on Aug. 26, 1071 saw Seljuk Turks led by Sultan Alparslan defeat a Byzantine army and open up Anatolia for Turkish domination.

In a written message, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “Defying a host of attacks from inside and out, our people have clung to this soil for almost 1,000 years thanks to the soul of Malazgirt.”

Turkey’s biggest safeguard is the “determination of our people to protect their independence, their motherland, and their future,” even in the face of economic attacks, he added.

Erdoğan also released a separate message honoring Victory Week, which marks two key historical victories by Turkish forces: the Battle of Malazgirt and Great Offensive of Aug. 26, 1922, which saw invading Greek forces’ eventual defeat at the hands of the Turkish army.

He lauded the Great Offensive – the biggest military operation of the Turkish War of Independence – as a “milestone in the struggle for independence.”

“Our beloved people protected their national and spiritual values at the cost of their lives throughout history,” he wrote.

The 96th Victory Day on Aug. 30 commemorates Turkey’s victory in the Battle of Dumlupınar, in the Aegean province of Kütahya, part of the Great Offensive.

Is Germany threatening the United States? Wow!

Germany’s Foreign Minister: When the U.S. ‘Crosses the Line,’ Europe Must Act

Europe should scale up military spending in order to act as a counterpoint to an unpredictable and unreliable United States, the German foreign minister said in an op-ed Wednesday, an unusually forthright criticism of U.S. foreign policy by a senior political figure in Europe.

Heiko Maas

German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas

In the German newspaper Handelsblatt entitled “A New World Order,” Heiko Maas said that Europe and the U.S. have been drifting apart for years. Instead of waiting for Trump’s presidency to end, he argued, Europe should take an “equal share of responsibility” globally.

Yet Maas joined in agreement with Trump in demanding NATO members increase their defense spending. “It is in our own interest to strengthen the European part of the North Atlantic Alliance,” he wrote. However, he continued, this was “not because Donald Trump is always setting new percentage targets, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent.”

Increased defense spending, he said, would secure Europe’s position as a global power. “Where the USA crosses the line, we Europeans must form a counterweight — as difficult as that can be,” he wrote. “That is also what balance is about.”

Maas also used strong language on Iran. On Aug. 6, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, of which Germany was also a signatory. The new sanctions threaten to hurt European businesses.

“We will not allow [Washington] to go over our heads, and at our expense,” Maas wrote. “Every day that the Iran agreement lasts, is better than the potentially explosive crisis that threatens the Middle East otherwise.” More sanctions, on Iran’s oil industry, are set to come into force on Nov. 5.

Maas’s comments go even further than Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks in May 2017 about the unreliability of its traditional Western allies. “The times in which [Germany] could fully rely on others are partly over,” Merkel said. “We Europeans really have to take our destiny into our own hands.”

Source: Time

Open admission of US guilt!

Do you need further evidence that the “money markets”, transnational bankers and financiers, and the “credit agencies” are in cahoots with the United States Government, and vice versa?

US-Turkey crisis could end “instantly” if pastor freed: Bolton

Turkey could end the crisis with the United States “instantly” by freeing a detained American pastor, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said, adding that a Qatari cash infusion would not help Ankara’s economy.

John Bolton

Do you REALLY want me to say that, Don?

“Look, the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Pastor Brunson,” Bolton told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Israel.

“Every day that goes by that mistake continues, this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West, and release pastor Brunson without condition.”

Qatar’s Emir this month approved a package of economic projects, including a $15 billion pledge of support, for Turkey, giving a boost to a lira that has lost some 37 percent of its value this year.

Bolton was skeptical about the intervention by the Gulf state, which has been feuding with U.S. allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“Well, I think what they pledged is utterly insufficient to have an impact on Turkey’s economy. It’s certainly not helpful but we’ll actually see what develops from their pledge,” he said.

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So, either the US Government ordered the financiers to punish Turkey, or more likely, the financiers ordered the government. And it’s not just Turkey! In the past, however, the US would deny responsibility, and blame the target country’s inefficient management etc – which, of course, they are still trying to do. The importance of Turkey for the world, in terms of democracy and national sovereignty, is that they are forcing out into the open what the United States is doing – and has been doing for decades!

It is also clear that the US Government does not want the Brunson case to come to court in Turkey. Why not? Are they afraid that his connections with the CIA will become public knowledge?

And furthermore, the Trump administration seems to be calling for Turkey’s government to interfere in the judicial process. Isn’t that one of the things that Turkey is being criticised for?

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Bolton remarks proof US targeting Turkey in economic war

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesperson said on Aug. 22 remarks by the U.S. National Security Adviser regarding Turkey’s economic situation were proof that the U.S. administration is targeting a NATO ally as part of an economic war.

İbrahim Kalın

Turkey’s presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın

In a written statement responding to an interview whichJohnBoltongave to Reuters, [the presidential] spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said the U.S. administration’s most recent policies were at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance.

Turkey and the United States are embroiled in a deep dispute focused on a U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, being tried on terrorism charges in Turkey. The row has fuelled a slide in the lira, which has lost more than a third of its value against the dollar this year.

“The Trump administration has … established that it intends to use trade, tariffs and sanctions to start a global trade war,” he said, pointing to similar disputes with Mexico, Canada, Europe and China.

“Turkey has no intention of starting an economic war with any party. It cannot, however, be expected to keep silent in the face of attacks against its economy and judiciary,” he said.

Kalın said Turkey would work with the rest of the world against restrictive and punitive measures.

“The U.S. administration’s most recent policies are at odds with the fundamental principles and values of the NATO alliance,” he added.

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This opinion piece by Murat Yetkin makes some important points:

Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey?

[O]n Aug. 22, Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters in Jerusalem “the Turkish government made a big mistake in not releasing Brunson” and “this crisis could be over instantly if they did the right thing as a NATO ally, part of the West and release the pastor without condition.”

This is arrogant and vague language, which could be used against an enemy or a rival but not an “ally.” What kind of a deal Bolton is talking about is also unclear. If “the government,” not the court would release Brunson, does Bolton mean all subjects of crisis, from Gülen to the U.S. support of PKK offshoots in Syria, would be over “instantly”?

The U.S. and NATO have turned a blind eye on the coups inTurkeyin 1960, 1971 and 1980; [or] have supported and shed crocodile tears as long asTurkey served Western military interests. That was the Cold War. It is no excuse, but the U.S. priority then was to be against the Soviet Union, which has now been succeeded by the Russian Federation.

Is this hypocrisy still valid? Is it OK for the West if there is a coup in Turkey, as long as it serves their military interests?