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Whatever the outcome of the Greek referendum, we are seeing the death of the EU dream

It’s almost like the 1980s in reverse, but this time it is the West that’s suffering from a soft power deficit and self-confidence crisis. Should the European Dream perish, will the Eurasian Dream take its place?

Alex Christoforou

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Post appeared on Fort Russ, entitled “Requiem for the European Dream,” by Crimson Alter. Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

As European businessmen like to say, “if you think the situation can’t be made more absurd, EU bureaucrats will easily prove you wrong.” Greece is in default, but one still wants to cool the optimists’ ardor. EU will most likely survive this blow, though the cracks in the “common European home’s” facade will become visible to everyone.

The political context is the most important aspect of the situation in Greece. To put it bluntly, Greece is the epicenter of EU’s structural political crisis, and its being the temporary epicenter of an economic crisis is secondary in importance. As far as direct economic damage is concerned, Greece can inflict a serious blow against European supranational institutions (ECB, EFSF, Target2), but, overall, the EU banking system is more or less protected against Greek toxic assets due to their transfer into the accounts of state organizations (in other words, European taxpayers).

If the referendum results show the creditors the middle finger in response to their ultimatum, Greece has the potential to become an open wound and a headache for European bureaucrats. If the Greeks don’t decide to leave the Eurozone on their own, they can’t be forced to leave–there is no legal process for that. Any effort by Brussels bureaucrats to establish such a process would be:
a) complicated
b) prolonged
c) terrifying–because the threat to use the mechanism will be used as blackmail by other Eurozone politicians. There is a rule in politics: any structure which contains a legal procedure for self-liquidation will soon be liquidated. Therefore Greece will be able to blackmail the EU for some time in order to obtain concessions simply by poisoning the eurozone with their presence. We can imagine a very disagreeable divorce, complete with breaking of porcelain and black eyes.

The so-called Tsipras Letter in which EU and Russian media unexpectedly saw a ray of hope for resolving the crisis, and the Wall Street Journal even found a hint at cancelling the referendum, is best described as “proper form, but still a mockery.” Yes, the Greek government agreed to most of the creditors’ demands, except for a “few details”, but those are the details which make an agreement extremely unlikely. Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble instantly declared that “there is no basis for negotiations” (http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/greeces-bailout-expires-country-defaults/story-e6frfkui-1227423032206), thus burying the hope that an escalation can be postponed. Tsipras’ subsequent TV appearance in which he announced that “after the referendum the government of Greece will return behind the negotiating table with a stronger position” only strengthens the impression that the “terrible end” scenario is being replaced with the “endless terror” one.

In that context Francois Hollande who is still trying to convince IMF, Berlin, and Athens to agree on something while the possibility still exists before the referendum ( http://www.ft.com/intl/fastft/353621) looks very lonely and unwanted. The French leader is behaving for wholly prosaic reasons–he knows that Greece’s present might be France’s future.

It’s easy to see that the main blow against the EU is in the ideological realm, and it’s a very telling blow: we are seeing the death of the myth of the ECB and European Commission omnipotence, and it is dying together with the myth that the EU is an invulnerable and eternal structure. It’s enough to reflect on Financial Times headlines: “The European dream is dying in Greece,” and “The failed common currency will define Angela Merkel’s legacy”!

When the crisis hits Spain and France (which are already discussed as the next stage), then it will be pain for real because after its failure in Greece (3% of EU’s GDP) nobody in their right mind will believe in the ECB’s and European Commission’s ability to save France’s or Spain’s economy. In a Goldman Sachs research report I cited earlier, Spain is listed as the next landmine whose explosion will be too big to be addressed by printing more euros:

“The medium-term consensus is that the Eurozone may become more cohesive without Greece. That logic assumes that Greece is a special case which of course does not correspond to reality. For example, Spain’s unemployment level is not that different from Greece’s, the the populist political pressure is increasing.” http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-

What makes the situation even more absurd is that the ECB director, Mario Draghi, is a former Goldman Sachs associate. Who knows, maybe he is at ECB on a “temporary assignment.”

The ECB has one option in the medium term–launch quantitative easing (officially or unofficially) and buy Eurozone government bonds from the secondary (and maybe even primary) market. This time it might work, but it would be the last time. Structural problems such as Spain’s cannot be addressed by issuing more money.

There is another aspect to the problem. Wikileaks got busy and sent European media the NSA intercepts of discussions between top Frency politicians (minister of finance and a senator) who in 2012 discussed how France’s economy is in a much worse shape than everyoen thinks, and that it will need radical changes in the next two years.
https://www.scribd.com/doc/270032184/NSA-France-Leak

Two years have passed and no radical reforms…It will be interesting to see how it will all end, but I doubt the leak was accidental. One cannot rule out the possibility that the Europeans are being gradually conditioned to think that, to cite a Financial Times columnist, “the European dream is dead.”

J.Hawk’s Comment: Since both nature and geopolitics abhor a vacuum, the vacuum of power left behind by the EU’s if not disappearance then certainly diminution (and to think that even 10 years ago it was believed it might become the world’s next hegemonic power, eclipsing the United States in that role) will have to be filled with someone. The article doesn’t even mention the basket cases closer to home, such as the Baltic States and the rest of Eastern/Southern Europe which are already suffering. It’s almost like the 1980s in reverse, but this time it is the West that’s suffering from a soft power deficit and self-confidence crisis. Should the European Dream perish, will the Eurasian Dream take its place?

References:

http://politrussia.com/world/rekviem-po-evropeyskoy-439/

http://fortruss.blogspot.ca/2015/07/requiem-for-european-dream.html

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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