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Who's playing chicken?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2012-05-25 07:23:11
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The last few days I read an article about the situation in Europe nowadays and how things are going between Merkel, Hollande and the new Greek political reality and the whole thing was described as playing chicken in many levels and deferent tables. and it might be playing chicken for Merkel and Hollande but it is not for Europe and definitely not for the Greek people. Actually for the Greek people the whole thing has turned into a life and death game, for some literally.

Hollande and Merkel are doing the old European dance between the two nations where they make cycles around each other, smelling and testing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and waiting to strike and establish a temporary victory over who’s the boss. Merkel has managed quite well the last few years with a little help from her loyal satellites Holland and Finland but Hollande seems to be the new favourite. You see Sarkozy apart from allying in too many ways with Merkel’s neo-conservatism, he also sold-out France’s traditional allies in the south and Hollande wants them back; after all they are the best customers in Europe for the French products.

In the south now things are not limited in Greece; Italy, Spain and Portugal are watching carefully what’s going on in Greece and they know their situation is not so dramatic but the same time they acknowledge that there is no way to apply the same measures in their countries. Except that and especially in Spain’s and Italy’s case the Greek debt literally dwarfs their nearly trillion Euros problems. For them there is no chicken game, for them is not even if, for them is when and what the hell are we going to do. You see one more thing the Greek people reminded to all Europeans is that the people have a saying and their saying can change a lot of things. The threat of a Greek euro-exit was just a threat few months ago said behind closed doors and never loud and it was the short of parental threat, if you are not a good kid look what’s going to happen to you. Now the threat turned into a boomerang and it is the Greek that ask what if it is better? And this is not playing chicken is acting to survive and acts to survive usually are acts of desperation. And there is playing chicken.

Europe is not in a battle between Merkel’s policies and economic ideas, is in a deep battle with people’s desperation and their need for change and I have the feeling that this is a battle that expands globally. Obama has exactly the same problem and this is probably why the republicans cannot find audience despite the mood change in US. Don’t forget, Obama promised changed, promised an administration from the people for the people and Hollande was elected in France with exactly the same words. And perhaps Obama has one more term to do something, Hollande and most of the Europeans have no second chance as again the Greek example proved. And threats with apocalyptic scenarios don’t work very well with the people nowadays.

Actually by keeping on the pressure the only thing they manage is to increase the power of the parties and the groups that doubt states’ authority and ability to fulfil their obligations. The threat for a Greek exit for the euro might targeted the Greek people but managed to scare the Spaniards, the Italians and the Portuguese and when they got scared stock markets internationally felt the fear and share process fell in the fear of a Euro collapse. Again playing chicken didn’t work very well if that was a plan to make Greeks vote pro-austerity parties.

Hollande the same time doesn’t have the luxury for compromises with Merkel’s plans because now he has except the responsibility of the French people, also has the responsibility of the desperate south. So if it started like playing chicken with Merkel now it has got far beyond that and if he doesn’t realize it the only thing he will manage to do is deepen the European crisis.

Merkel has to stick in her own little chicken games for the simple reason elections are coming and her defeat will probably be heavy in many ways. She wants to keep face for her internal reasons showing the German voters that she rules and forms the European policy with the one element Germans survived the aftermaths of the WWII, the cold war and the very tense unification. Her legacy is very important to her just like any other politician’s and she doesn’t want to be remembered as a loser.

The Greek people live in desperation and the truth is that the worst are still coming. With drachma or euro the suffering is not over yet and is not going to be over for a few years; except if something radically changes everything. The idea for the Euro-bonds is a good one and it will probably work for Italy and Spain but I’m afraid Greece needs a stronger medicine. I often hear that Greece should not be in the euro-zone but this was a political decision shared by the Greek and the European leadership and definitely not the Greek people who seem to get the blame at the moment. After all Greece is not the only European state that joined the euro-zone with a political decision and not fulfilling the German inspired blueprint. So since the beginning what was demanding from the Union was a political decision that would help Greece and not bring Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to the edge with Belgium following not far behind. The responsibility falls into the European Union’s leadership.

The European Union was and is obliged to protect the European people and not the careers of the European politicians. and of course having the resources – they get plenty of support and funding to have those resources – Mr. Barroso, Mr. Van Rompuy and the rest of the gang were obliged to research and find alternatives and solutions and not wait for Angela and Nicolas, knowing that most likely their solutions serve personal and national agendas. I’m afraid the Barroso period in EU will remembered as the worst period and the era the union endangered a collapse.

Funny the chicken game as it has turned out is not between Merkel and Hollande, Euro and Drachma, North and South, Berlin and Athens. The chicken game is between the states and what they represent nowadays and the people who have put them there to represent THEM only. And by definition the winner in the chicken game is always the one who has nothing to lose and in this case the European Union and its leadership have plenty to lose.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-05-25 13:52:11
How sad indeed, a union envisioned as a beacon of prosperity and democracy ends up as a chicken game by its Lilliputian leaders. Were it a chess game, it wouldn’t be too bad; but a chicken game. The founding fathers of the EU must be turning in their graves.

Leah Sellers2012-05-26 05:07:45
Dear Thanos,
Chickens in the Barnyard - cluck, cluck, cluck !
Searchin' for a Lilliput to chuck, chuck, chuck
All the Chickens scroungin' for a buck, buck, buck
These are times when Chickens wished they all were ducks, ducks, ducks
Because the Roosters in the Barnyard are Quacks !

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