GREEK TRAGEDY: Austerity…up to but not including the military and other elites [The Slog]

Reversing rapidly away from pledges to try and hold out against more austerity measures, the Athens government of Antonis Samaras is now looking at  further cuts in pensions, health care and nursery schools. But already highly-paid military officers remain 100% untouched by salary reductions. The same is true of tax collectors, and even more of those working in the Greek Treasury and legal departments – who have seen rises in both pay and benefits since last January. As with every society, the powerful pay less.

Word reaches me now that Prime Minister Samaras is disappointed in his Ministers’ failure to drive the Troika tank of socio-economic destruction forward. To date, they have only agreed on (not made)  €5.6 billion of deeper cuts…roughly 40% of what the Troikanauts are demanding….the continuation of which ensures that German exports will flourish.

Yet despite this dilemma of trying to squeeze ten litres out of a Krono beer bottle, Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos has told Prime Minister Samaras that there will not be any cuts in the “special salaries” received by military personnel….or else. Samaras has meekly acquiesced in face of this ultimatum. In January 2012, despite the country’s doctors treating emergencies only, chronic shortages of medication, pharmacies unpaid, and bus drivers on strike,  the Greek government remained the largest buyer of German weapons in the World.

Everyone from Zero Hedge to Kathimerini fears this kind of thing may presage a military coup – or at the very least signal the continuing hegemony of the armed forces in Greek politics. But myself, I’m not so sure. What Panayiotopoulos and the officer class recognise (and trade upon) is the growing strategic importance of Greece in South eastern Europe. Be it for the protection of rare and precious metals and energy sources, or the provision of a bulwark against Turkish, Russian or Chinese expansionism, Athens knows that either Berlin or Washington is determined to wind up with a Greece bristling with the very latest in military armoury. And quietly in the background, Mossad too is providing reliable assurances of military generosity to the Hellenic Republic.

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