Thursday, June 04, 2015

Varoufakis makes an 11th-hour appeal for reason and decency to German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in a column today reminds Germany that the United States took the lead in allowing Germany the chance to build a prosperous peacetime economy after the Second World War, including massive write-offs of Germany's sovereign debt: A Speech of Hope for Greece Project Syndicate 06/04/2015.

He cites this 09/06/1946 speech in Stuttgart by Secretary of State James Byrnes, officially titled Restatement of Policy on Germany (Stuttgart).

Varoufakis writes:

Prior to Byrnes’ speech, and for a while afterwards, America’s allies were not keen to restore hope to the defeated Germans. But once President Harry Truman’s administration decided to rehabilitate Germany, there was no turning back. Its rebirth was underway, facilitated by the Marshall Plan, the US-sponsored 1953 debt write-down, and by the infusion of migrant labor from Italy, Yugoslavia, and Greece.

Europe could not have united in peace and democracy without that sea change. Someone had to put aside moralistic objections and look dispassionately at a country locked in a set of circumstances that would only reproduce discord and fragmentation across the continent. The US, having emerged from the war as the only creditor country, did precisely that.

Today, it is my country that is locked in such circumstances and in need of hope. Moralistic objections to helping Greece abound, denying its people a shot at achieving their own renaissance. Greater austerity is being demanded from an economy that is on its knees, owing to the heftiest dose of austerity any country has ever had to endure in peacetime. No offer of debt relief. No plan for boosting investment. And certainly, as of yet, no “Speech of Hope” for this fallen people. [my emphasis in bold]

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