Greek debt and the arms industry

Submitted by Matthew on 14 May, 2010 - 2:52 Author: Richard Minns and Nicholas Xenakis

Greek debt needs a little more thought. We all know about the caricature of over-indulgent civil servants, early retirement generosity by the state, the fiddling of EU money.

Many countries are immersed in corruption, bribery, expenses scandals, jaw-dropping bonuses for making losses, so what is the real geopolitical issue causing all the fuss about Greece?

The issue is about weapons and war.

The German President may say that Germany sympathises. The Bild-Zeitung may say that Germans get up earlier than Greeks and work longer in terms of hours and years.

But we ask these politicians and pundits:

Who has bought German, US, Israeli weapons and had to pay for it as a central part of NATO, amounting to the fifth largest arms purchaser in the world (relative to state GDP), thus helping Germans to get up earlier?

Defence spending in Greece in 2007 was $1.3 billion and Greece buys 31% of its weapons from Germany, 24% from the US, 24% from France. These purchases provide investment and jobs in the exporting states, dividends for shareholders, including pension funds, while Greeks now have to consider lay-offs and pension cuts to pay for jobs and pensions elsewhere.

Good for Germany, bad for Greece

In the current structure of international trade, finance and war, there is basically a cycle of weapons production, debt and then cuts in social provision to pay for it.

Weapons produce nothing as a commercial product, so the money to buy them has to come from elsewhere, in this case debt. Some even dare suggest that arms producers’ sales loans are conditional on the “other” state loans made.

The cycle of death and debt has applied to South America principally, but now we see the awesome consequences for Europe.

Where do we think that strikes and arguments for protection of rights and incomes come from? The fact that Greece has benefits that we all envy, if true, is not the issue. If it is so wonderful, why haven’t the impoverished bankers and others from the rest of the “West” moved there?

The central issue is about milking Greece with arms sales, credits and cuts in living standards — and the power of the arms industry.

The debt we owe Greece is preserving the arms industry without which, it seems, we would all be bust, as Tony Blair has often officially reminded us on the local employment implications of Margaret Thathcher’s Al Yamamah deal.

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