Negative interest wars, UK bombers over Syria, & the riddle of Syriza’s cowardice

And today’s Slogan is:

Socialists and Neoliberals are two poles separated by a common obsession: they only do Big, and they’re not happy unless it’s getting Bigger.

Life’s a mystery, there’s no doubting that. Here’s my trio for today….

  1. How can anyone take an economic system seriously wherein businesses and citizens have to pay banks to hold their deposits, and pay to borrow money? Nothing could be less conducive to entrepreneurial recovery.

The negatives rates war going on between the Swiss central Bank and the ECB is a classic case in point: whatever Draghi does to make EU labour cheap, the Gnomes will trump to make their exports competitive. None of it has anything to do with real-life capitalist business on the ground.

2. Why does anyone further up the tree of life than a cat think UK bombing is going to make any difference in Syria?

Russian warplanes have carried out a staggering 604 sorties, hitting 731 rebel targets across Syria. The Russians may be short of customers for oil, but there’s more than enough for them.

As early as 19 December 2014, US General James Terry announced that the number of US airstrikes carried out against ISIL stood at 1,361. Today it’s at 3,800.

Taking the international coalition of dingbats as a whole, some seventeen other nations have piled in with a total of 59 fighter bombers.

All up, without the UK’s planes, it is estimated that around 470 strike aircraft are in operation over Syria.

Given our military cuts, and deployment elsewhere in the world, it is highly unlikely that Britain will have more than 55 airborne weapons to bring to the Party –ย  a Whitehall source suggested to me over the weekend.

Whatever one’s feelings about Paddy Ashdown, he is a trained military strategist. This is what he said last week:

“There is no military purpose to be served by Britain adding our widowโ€™s mite of explosive to the mountain already criss-crossing the increasingly crowded Syrian skies….A Nato deployment of F-22 Raptors at Incirlik airbase in Turkey would have the same effect.”

Ashdown and Corbyn are among the very few at Westminster pointing out this heavy chunk of the bleedin’ obvious. In the last hour, Corbyn has offered his MPs a no-strings free vote on the issue, displaying perhaps a mixture of fear and wisdom.

But here’s the final standing-on-head thing: Cameron himself accepts this.

During last weeks’s debate he told MPs that “a few extra bombs and missiles will not transform the situation in Syria”. But never one to give illogic an easy getout, he still insisted the UK should join in the forthcomong aerial traffic accident above Syria. Should we not get Assad’s request for support before doing such a thing, he was asked. This was his deranged reply:

“It would make very little sense for the RAF to respect an international border no longer recognised by jihadists like ISIL whom we know to be plotting attacks on the UK.”

Two points on that one: first, and bombing has a track record of scaring them into submission, yes? And second, seven wrongs make a right, do they?
This is not a lack of wise and moral leadership; it is the playground mentality of the Lord of the Flies. The one and only solid ‘reason’ he can give for bombing Syria is that of having been told formally by the French foreign minister that “British support would be appreciated”. With respect to my adopted country, I think military personnel deserve a better reason than that in 2015.


3. Why did Tsipras fold?

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was guilty of jaw-dropping naivety during the diktat negotiations with the Troika EC earlier this year….the same wishful thinking, I would argue, that Camerlot is showing now over ‘Brexit’.

To his credit, the Syriza leader later went on live television and admitted his mistakes. But four months on, one huge question hangs in the thin air above this Greek marathon: naive negotiator he may be, but a clueless politician he isn’t.

Last night, in the first opinion poll since the second Greek elections – carried out by Kapa Research for newspaper To Vima Syriza’s electoral support has almost halved…from 35.5% to 18.4%.

Prominent Athens blogger adds that Tsipras’s left-leaning coalition is now only four and a half points ahead of New Democracy – which, since the resignation of Antonikis Olivestone recently, has been what we political scientists call “all over the place”.

But there is a bigger issue at stake here. When Alexis Tsipras “buckled under pressure” last Summer, he didn’t just devastate his supporters: he struck a blow against the belief in liberal democracy in Europe – a belief busy being eroded by other sociopaths from Jihadi John to Theresa May without him getting involved as well.

This is not mere fancy: look carefully at the Kapa data, and it’s there for all to see. The once-hailed To Potami group is now at 2.2%, and the Syriza coalition partner Anel at 2.1%. Both these two and the Centrists Union on 2.3% would have no seats in the Assembly (under the populaer vote cutoff rule) if there were an election now. The once all-powerful social democratic Party PASOK gathers a mere 4.4% of the votes.

The third Party in the Hellenic Repulic remains Golden Dawn – just ahead of the One Party State derived ideas of the KKE. 25% of all those polled said they would spoil their ballot papers or not turn out. And a staggering two-thirds said they disapproved of everythingdone by the Government over the last few months.

I’m sure Brussels-am-Berlin is fully aware of what it has done – viz, created a captive technocracy it will now proposes to turn into a corporatocracy, via the ancient principle of kleptocracy.

But I wonder if Mr Tsipras knows what he has done….or whether Drizzlebung and his fellow gargoyles realise the path to Mussoliniism is far from cleared of landmines.

I have thought from the day of capitulation that the way in which Tsipras folded was unnatural in general and alien to him as a bloke. During the interim since, I have spoken to more than thirty Greeks I would describe as intelligent and/or well-placed. To be honest, some have suspicions about what happened, but the vast majority don’t. So I’d be the first to accept I’m out on a limb here.

The most common view is that he thought the referendum would vote ‘Yes’. Indeed, some close to Tsipras have said this was definitely so: that he thought that Yes vote would give him permission to resign and go back to being the firebrand in Opposition.

I simply don’t acept this: if Alexis really thought that, then he must have been the worst-informed First World PM in history. And I know for a fact that the Greek intelligence services knew exactly how sound the OXI majority was. As I have always been told that the Greek spooks were right behind the Syriza leader, it seems inconceivable they didn’t tell him he was going ‘to win’.

It seems only two possibilities remain. First, that the Greek leader had (and/or has) a plan to stuff the EC when they least expect it….that he has accepted humiliation, but time will make him the hero. Or second, he really felt ordinary Greeks had suffered enough – and capitulation by him was preferable to starvation for them.

Frankly, I don’t think either conclusion holds much water – but there might be something of a partial truth taking the two possibilities together. That’s to say, he is doing Maqui-style stuff behind the scenes designed to slow down the carpet-bagging bonanza; and coordinating with other ClubMed leftist groups to make it impossible in the medium term for the the EC to function.

Who knows anything….beyond the fact that it smells?