Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Troubles of Europe

I hope the European Union can be saved, for the sake of peace and democracy in Europe. I hope the euro can be saved, because in practice the failure of the euro would be a tremendous setback to the EU itself.

Seeing the disaster that now seems to be accelerating into a new phase in Europe is truly sad. Here are some of the latest traumas.

The EU leaders have yet another emergency summit on Wednesday. (Didn't they just have one this past weekend?) You would think they might take the hint that with every new solution seemingly falling apart more quickly than the last one, they might want to re-examine their basic approach. But they don't won't to upset their main constituency, the giant banks, who are lobbying hard to squeeze every euro they can out of the taxpayers while imposing austerity policies that even bank CEOs should be able to see are disastrous. The banks are basically threatening to trigger another Lehman Brothers event that could set off a new world financial crash if they don't get their way. (Arthur Beesley, Banks threaten to derail EU debt crisis strategy Irish Times 10/26/2011)

The obnoxious Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's Rupert Murdoch but also its Prime Minister, faces a Wednesday deadline to knuckle under to new austerity demands from Germany and France. Berlusconi's coalition includes the nasty nationalist group the Northern League headed by Umberto Bossi, which is threatening to pull out of the coalition if Berlusconi gives in, which could bring down Berlusconi's government. (Fabian Reinbold, Berlusconi in der Krise: Italien schimpft auf Merkel und die Deutschen Spiegel Online 25.10.2011)

In general, support for "Europe" (the EU) has been strongest among left parties like the Greens and among mainstream conservatives and Social Democrats. Up until now, when the EU itself has become a tool for the financial elite to throttle democratic government and impoverish large portions of the European people, opposition to the EU has come from the right. Rightists are happy to take advantage of the current genuine crisis and the appalling failure of leadership in the EU to try to pull their countries out and undermine the whole democratic European project.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, who himself is practicing a brutal austerity program in Britain that is damaging their economy badly, is dealing with anti-Europeans in his own Conservative Party. Rightwing as he is, he's not ready to flush the EU down the drain yet. (Elizabeth Rigby, Cameron pursues risky strategy on rebellion, Yahoo! News/Financial Times 10/24/2011)

Krugman sees a lot of chatter about how things are getting better in Ireland, thus supposedly validating the absurd notion of expansionary austerity. But he says it ain't so. (Irish Reality Check 10/25/2011)

And French President Nicolas Sarkozy apparently can't resist making snotty comments about the countries his austerity policies are damaging so badly. He says that people used to talk about Spain being an economic miracle and now nobody wants to be in their place. (Sarkozy: "Se hablaba de España como de un milagro, pero ahora nadie quiere estar en su lugar" EFE/El País 25.10.2011)

It's one of the mysteries of our present time why anyone listens to the crooked rating agencies any more. But Moody's is also threatening to downgrade France's debt. (Moody's warns on France's credit rating BBC 10/18/2011) So maybe it's not really the best time for Sarkozy to be trashing his EU partners.

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