Tsipras Folds

After all-night negotiations with other European heads of state, the Prime Minister of Greece has agreed to an emergency plan that will allow Greece's banks to continue dispensing euros. That plan includes all the austerity measures Greek voters rejected in last Sunday's referendum—and then some. It will require Greece to cut pensions, raise taxes, and sell off state assets, and it does not include any reduction of Greece's overall debt. It is not a compromise in any meaningful sense of the term; it is an utter capitulation.

Alexis Tsipras became Prime Minister by promising relief from a less severe austerity program. When, after months of unsuccessful negotiation, eurozone officials backed him into a corner, he called a snap referendum, and Greek voters rejected the EU's demands for yet more austerity. So the people of Greece have spoken, twice, and Eurozone officials have now responded: Pipe down or we will crush you. 

Paul Krugman, writing a few hours before Tsipras accepted the unacceptable:

The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.[...]

In a way, the economics have almost become secondary. But still, let’s be clear: what we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line. This has no bearing at all on the underlying economics of austerity. It’s as true as ever that imposing harsh austerity without debt relief is a doomed policy no matter how willing the country is to accept suffering. And this in turn means that even a complete Greek capitulation would be a dead end.

The Guardian's Suzanne Moore:

By infantilising Greece, Germany resembles a child who closes its own eyes and thinks we can not see it. We can. The world is watching what is being done to Greece in the name of euro stability.

It sees a nation stripped of its dignity, its sovereignty, its future.

What kind of family, we might ask, does this to one of its own members? Even Der Spiegel online described the conditions that have been outlined as “a catalogue of cruelties”, but perhaps we should now put it another way, given Jean-Claude Juncker has denied that the Greek people have been humiliated. Juncker instead says that this deal is a typical “European” compromise. Yes, we see.[...]

The euro family has been exposed as a loan-sharking conglomerate that cares nothing for democracy. This family is abusive. This “bailout”, which will be sold as being a cruel-to-be-kind deal is nothing of the sort. It is simply being cruel to be cruel.

UPDATE: This interview with Yanis Varoufakis, Greece's former finance minister, confirms what many had suspected all along: that Tsipras had no back-up plan, and did not even want one. That was foolish. It meant that he had no leverage in last night's negotiations. He had to take whatever the troika gave him, which turned out to be less than nothing. Knowing Tsipras's government had no other currency to fall back on, no contingency plan for "Grexit," Europe's hardliners could simply say: You will do what we tell you or there will be chaos in Athens. So, if this wasn't a coup, it was at least extortion. Gone are Syriza's claims to offer an alternative to austerity, and gone are the European Union's democratic pretensions.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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