The Not Very Serious People diplomacy update

The newspaper header is:

Panos Kammenos, Greece’s defence minister, threatens to open country’s borders to refugees – including potential members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) – unless Athens receives debt crisis support

The story is here, via Andrea Castillo.  Whether it jives with your mood affiliation or not, it’s time to admit “these people simply don’t know what they are doing.”  Fortunately, it does seem the Greek government has been walking back on this talk.


That's about two days old, by the way.

And you do realize that Panos Kammenos is a member of the right wing "Independent Greeks," right? Who threatened Berlin with this - 'Am Wochenende hat er mit der Weiterleitung zehntausender Flüchtlinge nach Europa gedroht. „Wenn sie Griechenland einen Schlag versetzen, dann sollen sie wissen, dass (...) die Migranten (Reise-)Papiere bekommen und nach Berlin gehen“, sagte Kammenos Medienberichten zufolge am Sonntag bei einer Sitzung seiner Partei.'

Troll better. Complaining that a story is about the actions of a Greek government minister 48 hours ago is seriously low-percentile trolling.

If you refresh the page every 5 minutes, 48 hours is an eternity.

Commenter made a point that the minister is a member of the right wing 'Independent Greeks', no Syriza--very relevant

Varoufakis technically isn't a member of Syriza either. Anyway, Left-wingers generally don't praise Syriza explicitly, because that would implicate them in Trotskyism and all sorts of error. Instead they praise the Greek government, setting them against other European governments, saying the Greek government needs support.

Has someone seen the full declaration of Panos Kamenos ? I'd like to know, in particular, in Kamenos' own words, in retaliation of which potential "blow" from the EU to Greece he threats to give migrants papers.
The linked telegraph article just says "The threat comes as Greece struggles to convince the eurozone and International Monetery Fund to continue payments on a £172billion bailout of Greek finances" which does not exactly answer my question.

For anyone who wants more serious reading from a good economist:

SPIEGEL: So others should now pay for the decades of mismanagement by governments in Athens?

Piketty: It's time for us to think about the young generation of Europeans. For many of them, it is extremely difficult to find work at all. Should we tell them: "Sorry, but your parents and grandparents are the reason you can't find a job?" Do we really want a European model of cross-generational collective punishment? It is this egotism motivated by nationalism that disconcerts me more than anything else today.

So that's a "yes."

Maybe that's the right answer, but the refusal to say "yes" makes me worry.

"So, others should pay for the decades of economic mismanagement of the Greek economy?"

Piketty and others on the left: "Yes. And preferably the Germans. I mean, what the hell, they are just Germans. Nobody likes them. And also the Nordic countries. They are rich. Let's get them to pay too. Wait, are the Dutch Germanish? Yeah, why not? Let them kick in too."

Other Germanish peoples: Austria (Anschluss anyone?). German minority in Hungary and Czech Republic. German part of Switzerland. Liechtenstein. Very small German part of Belgium. Maybe even the football formerly known as Alsace-Lorraine. German minority in Poland. The German peoples of Russia. The hapless Germans of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (seriously!)



The Greeks are not alone in their fiscal incontinence, apparently.

Just google "BBC: Germany is the most popular country in the world" , repeatedly

Such a lazy comment. And this whole Very Serious People meme is lazy as well. The idea that Syriza has monopolized irresponsibility in the TWO months at the helm is itself an irresponsible narrative.


And to TC, for whom I had a lot of respect until recently: Please justify your HATE of Syriza and the Left with some concrete argument. I thought you were an academic, a scientist, not just another Fox news crony.
I guess all those jokes about the economists I heard while obtaining my math degree are true. The economists are just the failed mathematicians who got too scared of the complicated math we mathematicians did and chose to do something easier.

The butt hurt is strong with this one.

Pikety is correct that Greek labor costs have come down dramatically, but that hasn't (and won't) solve the unemployment problem.

Labor regulation is the problem, along with other over-regulation of Greek businesses.

Greece is still at the bottom of the Eurozone in the Index of Economic Freedom.

What's with Cowen and all the propaganda about Greece? Did someone overcook his baklava?

Greece doesn't have suburban strip malls, apparently.

Been thinking roughly the same. Other than that it is mildly entertaining/amusing/interesting, I've concluded he has a vacation scheduled there that he has not announced yet.

Many people who purportedly endorse moderate-left policies for America and Western Europe ultimately prefer this Greek government to not only the last Greek government, but to all other democratic European governments. This is noteworthy.

ding ding ding. Obama's statement about "mindless austerity" was a nod to Syriza.

Exactly. And the stubborn old people who had it easy, with cheap education and were able to obtain tenured positions at schools (back in the time when the tenured positions were not endangered species like these days) feel that we, the younger ones owe them something and should consider their thought respectable. Looking at you TC. Up until these articles I had a lot of respect for you. Can you at least not be a COWARD and justify these thoughts with any argument.

Koch dollars.

The worst kind of trolls are those too stupid to ever make a good point. Michael.

The ad hominem is always a great rebuttal. Plus, it proves you're the more thoughtful one.

"Koch dollars" is an ad hominem. Ignoring the flaws of your own side while attacking your opponents is the modus operandi of the partisan.

So you're both just name-calling?

Thomas's comment wasn't an ad hominem, it was an insult. Koch Money, however, is a textbook ad hominem.

Thomas' statement was an attack on a person, rather than an argument. That's an ad hominem.

I can't say for sure what Michael intended, but if you allow yourself to read just a tiny bit below the surface, his likely argument is obvious, which nobody has addressed.

My argument was actually an attack on his arguments. "His argument under the surface" was a plain and simple ad hominem.

You're a moronic partisan. I've attacked your argument, yet you still haven't addressed Michael's.

See how that works?

Make your own judgement of Michael's arguments, Jan.

Is there any evidence that Cowen has ever received money from the Koch brothers? I haven't been able to find any.

Look up the funding for Mercatus. You really didn't know? Look up the history and funding for Cato as well.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are bound to Islamists. See: the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton foundation. You really didn't know, Bill?

Yup taking money from them to put into programs to fight HIV and expand economic opportunities for women. Hmm.

Saudi Princes have higher moral standing than wealthy Libertarians: understood, Jan.

Whoever you are, bless you. TC used to be someone I respected highly. But with this claptrap he is trying to sell us these days, he sounds retarded.

Partly mood affiliation: he's on the right wing so he has to hate Syriza. Partly jealousy of Yanis Varoufakis: celebrity/academic economist who ended up with some actual power.

I don't know if many envy the self-proclaimed steward of "he world's most bankrupt country". Pity, perhaps.

As they say in math departments all over the world: the economists are just failed mathematicians. And TC is proving the point.
From all of us, mathematicians

As they say in every other place in the world besides math departments: "What does a not failed mathematician look like? Can anyone here name one?"

Come come now. The word is "jibe" and I'm very serious about that.

Correct, but basically his side has overwhelmed the others:

I'm still standing guard in the "begging the question" border, but it's getting pretty lonely for me.

But how else is he supposed to take down the jibe ass turkeys?

Racial slurs against Caucasians are tots hilarious, Jan.

They really are you dumb cracker.

Who are silly people in other countries in leadership roles? Or if you prefer something shorter, who are the serious people?

It's a Krugman jab. Krugman complains about "Very Serious People" who typically support grand bargains and debt commissions that come up with conclusions Krugman opposes.

Yes, but he's not consistent. He's been recently crowing that VSPs listen to Keynesians but not to freshwater economists (if that is even an important distinction these days).

With Krugman it's: Principals over Principles.

A hollow threat, given that immigration results in trillion dollar bills lying on sidewalks.

Mr Cowen is afraid that the Europeans will steal all our immigrants.

Without immigrants the US will become a wasteland with the population living in cardboard shacks and eating pine cones

I think they called them 'teepees'

I see what you did there.

Wait a minute, Tyler. I thought more immigration was always Good For The Economy and that you were for more immigration?

Why then would you be opposed to this? Is it because they're asking for a bailout as well? So is it that you're for more immigration but opposed to bailing out the natives? You think the natives should only be taxed to pay to foreign creditors and immigrants, right?

Other Thomas.

Poor, Confused, Pedantic Thomas

And no mention of some stupid letter the Republicans are writing to Iran to notify them they should not negotiate with President Obama. If there is anything that screw up the US/Global economy would be a US & Iranian invasion.

I think at this point it is time for Greece to break up with the Euro as their country is on the verge self-destructing. (A long term depression tends to do that to a country.) It is not working for them so it is time for a divorce and chalk it up to Creative Destruction. The US former homeowners who sent the jingle mail the earliest are probably the best off today.

Six weeks of US air strikes would permanently end the Iranian nuclear program.

I'm not saying we should do that, but I think the probability of a ground invasion is roughly 0%.

Ground invasion is roughly 0%. That makes me comfortable...

Of course after 4 - 6 weeks of bombing, Iran could retaliate against the US or, more likely, Israel. That would not be pretty and would likely end up being a ground invasion.

All this is pretty unlikely. Presumably Israel is no longer capable of disabling the program with conventional weapons, if it ever was. I highly doubt the current US admin is going to launch a bombing campaign, although obviously they'd do that long before they invaded. Congress can complain, but they can't order anything and there's a couple of years left to make an agreement that'll be hard to go back on.

The most likely time for a conflict is ten years out when Iran gets to deploy its nuclear arsenal. That'll be a mess, but it's probably primarily Israel's problem. Maybe MAD will work out for them? Maybe they'll build a credible conventional threat with enough range? Maybe they'll go nuclear after the first Iranian test? I don't have a clear idea.

"Of course after 4 – 6 weeks of bombing, Iran could retaliate against the US or, more likely, Israel."

What do you think Iran has been doing for the past 20 years, not meddling in Israeli/American affairs? Seriously, we've already seen, multiple times, the worst Iran can throw at the West. It ain't pretty, but don't pretend like it is somehow instigated by our actions. It is not.

Lord Action: "Six weeks of US air strikes would permanently end the Iranian nuclear program."

What are your sources for this assessment?

I realize this concerns an Israeli strike, but it's a good place to get started:

The US could, in short order, operate with impunity above Iran and there just aren't that many targets. A nuclear program is a big industrial undertaking. It requires mines and reactors and factories. All things that take a long time to build and are vulnerable to airstrikes. And that are really hard to hide.

Israel has limited ability to operate that far from home. We don't. Israel's relatively small scale attacks permanently disabled the Syrian and Iraqi programs, although admittedly it took a while to convince people of that.

Now, picking a fight with Iran might be stupid for a whole host of reasons, but not because we couldn't end the nuclear program in a few weeks of fighting.

Where in that report or any other report does it show or state that the United States and/or Israel "would permanently end the Iranian nuclear program" with "six weeks of air strikes", or that we can "end the nuclear program in a few weeks of fighting"?

I'm not sure I understand your objection. What exactly do you think they'd do? Move their reactor around? Move their mines around? Hide a centrifuge facility? This isn't some 20-person lab in a warehouse or a cave: it's a huge-scale industrial endeavor. Do you really think Iranian air defenses are that much better than everybody else's? Do you not agree that the last two times someone tried this it worked just fine with much less than six weeks of US airpower? It's been done before, successfully, twice. I'm being generous in suggesting a Kosovo-level campaign is necessary. You don't have to occupy anything; you don't have to convince anybody of anything. This is the sort of thing the US is good at.

Look I always thought an Israeli strike looked marginal, although in retrospect maybe it was a mistake not to let them try, but there's just no question that the US could accomplish this. It might throw the region into serious turmoil, so I don't think it's a good idea, but not because I don't think it's technically possible.

They saw what happened to the Iraqis in the 80's, and moved much of it underground.

When you are dropping really big, really deep penetrating bombs that doesn't matter. Assuming you know where to strike of course.

And the skepticism you hear about strikes on the Iranian nuclear facilities assumes Israel get one shot with a few fighter aircraft. The US can establish air superiority and send heavy bombers in night after night. It doesn't matter how deeply buried something is in those circumstances; you can just dig down to it.

"It doesn’t matter how deeply buried something is in those circumstances; you can just dig down to it."

You don't really need to dig down to it. Just collapse the tunnels and destroy the infrastructure around it and it's worthless.

That depends on how deep it is. There's math describing penetration and shock propagation and all that - you can only go so deep with one weapon. For very deep targets you quite literally want to drop multiple weapons down the same hole.

Believe it or not, this was a consideration for very deeply buried targets in the nuclear era.

Yes, I've read some articles on that concept, but generally speaking unless the site has multiple very long access points with widespread egress points, it all becomes a rather deep, isolated cave after the first strike or so.

But theoretically, if Iran has USSR quality bunkers (that are big enough for significant production), then this would be an issue.

So yes you make a good point and are correct.

It worked so great in Iraq. What could possibly go wrong?

Reading comprehension fail.

Though, I suppose one thing that won't happen anytime soon is an Iraqi nuclear weapon...

>letter the Republicans are writing to Iran to notify them they should not negotiate with President Obama.

Here we have another person who gets his news from the New York Times. It's not pretty.

You didn't read the fine print on the letter did you? "For informational purposes only". I think the Iranians might be very interested in how our system is supposed to work. They may think we have a monarchy.

Poor, stupid brown people. They'd never figure out all this tough American politics on their own!

You realize that much of Iran's leadership was educated in the United States, right?

Even their foreign minister has rightly dismissed this letter as propaganda.

"Even their foreign minister has rightly dismissed this letter as propaganda."

The President can't make a binding treaty without the Senate's approval. That's not propaganda, that's the US Constitution.

It's not a 'treaty'- it's an 'executive agreement'.

"It’s not a ‘treaty’- it’s an ‘executive agreement’."

Which means the Republican Senators were correct in that it is only good until the next President is elected. An actual Treaty would be better all around.

"If Europe leaves us in the crisis, we will flood it with migrants, and it will be even worse for Berlin if in that wave of millions of economic migrants there will be some jihadists of the Islamic State too.”

Left-wing, right-wing, whatever. That's an irresponsible statement for a political leader to make and an insult to the thousands of people who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the actions of the madmen in ISIS.

I don't see how this is anything but a small evolution of Syriza's negotiating policy from the start. They have been quite explicit: If you don't give us more money to do with as we wish we will impose costs upon you in any way that we can. It is a mild form of extortion. People of different mood affiliations will dress this up in different ways, but in the end this has been Syriza's position.

The entire question has been : will the EU acquiesce? So far the EU has been rather spineless so all indications are that, indeed they will acquiesce. However, they are realizing that if they do then the precedent has been set with the easily foreseeable consequences. Thus, the slightly stiffening resolve. However the smart money is still on the EU folding, hence the 10% rate on Greek bonds.

Their problem is that the argument along the lines of 'pay us or the whole world will collapse' was more effective in 2009 than in 2015.

This would be a great way of making sure that any interprising Greek general looking to be the leader of Greece would have at least tacit support from the EU.

Also a pretty good demonstration of how any soi distant right-wing Orthodox adherent is really just someone sympathetic to Russia.

Kammenos like Daniel Larison here in the states is simply a Moscow Patriarchate firster. APAC on the Adriatic.

Daniel Larison here in the states is simply a Moscow Patriarchate firster.

Game. Set. Match.

+Kyrill could whip Francis of Lampedusa's ass.

a Moscow Patriarchate firster.

And to think people laughed at Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations.

And yet, as with the Yugoslav War, we have a pretty clear breakdown along the 1054 line.

As a Yugoslav,
Right on. Scary stuff

European asylum rules are essentially insane and are widely abused (and as often happens in European politics, everyone knows this and no one has the cojones to say it out loud, kind of like the Greek economic figures in the run up to the Euro).

Greek (with an oversized burden of useless "immigrants" they can't absorb or make productive) accepting all comers and letting them loose on Schengen is a kind of genius ploy to show up the hypocrisy of the European elites.

Yeah... except they can't 'accept and let loose'... They can approve the person's asylum application and make that person Greek resident, without any right to France's or Sweden's public assistance system, BUT with the right to that of Greece.

No, they don't need to give them any papers, just let them in...

They can let them in into Greece, but there's no border-free way to core Europe via land (take a look at the map!).

Their best options from Greece would seem to be illegally crossing through Balkans and illegally sailing to Italy, which is basically exactly the options available to asylum seekers right now without the cooperation of Greek government.

The migrants are plenty useful to Greece:

"At the height of the harvesting season, between October and July, an estimated 6,000 migrants are employed as strawberry pickers for wages that no Greek, despite record levels of unemployment, would ever accept. The vast majority are Bangladeshis because fruit firms have discovered that they are nimble and can fill crates the most quickly..."It's a multimillion-euro business that has made a lot of people rich around here"

Well thank god that Bangladeshis are helping employers not pay market prices.

So let me get this straight, despite all this "austerity" causing so much "pain and suffering" in Greece, there's not enough to make them take jobs? Jesus man.

If they knew what they were doing, they would already have all their money in a Swiss bank.

Tyler found the solution to the Greek debt crisis.

Step 1: Import ISIS to Greece
Step 2: ?
Step 3: Trillion Dollar Profit!

Here's a not very serious people economic update for Greece. Greece owes this much. Greece cannot repay that much. Seriously! What are the creditor nations going to do about it?

Foreclose the Acropolis!

Various economists on the internet have assured me that Open Borders is path to success and prosperity. Clearly the Greek government is implementing a sound strategy for improving its economy.

How can Tyler now say that this is a mark of "not very serious people"?

1. they aren't going to do it 2. they are using it as a threat.

I know this is really Alex's hobby horse, rather than Tyler's, but screw it.


seriously, tyler, I want to know how big the checks are for these posts. or did varoufakis steal your girlfriend at some point?

What's with the line of argument about Greece lately on here that is both derivative and mirrors the left's argument? Is this meta-smarm? What's being signaled here? Is this a Straussian take, or just wholly uncreative?

If it's derivative, it's because the truth is banal - they are not very good at being a government. Literally none of them had expected to be doing that job a couple of years ago. And their behaviour reflects it.

Are you implying the ones before them were better??? Hello, wake up people...

The comments on this post have been very illuminating.

I'm surprised this haven't been mentioned in the comments: how exactly are those migrants with Greek documents going to get to Berlin? Because, ironically, Greece is the only country that is easily physically separated from the rest of Schengen area:

I believe the borders of Romania and Bulgaria were supposed to go down sometimes around now, but assuming they remain in place – the rest of Europe can simply turn back everyone on Greek asylum documents, or, in the worst case, with any Greek visas.

I agree with the post: Greek officials display amazing amounts of misunderstanding of how reality works.

In truth, Greek government-stamped paper (visas, banknotes, bank transfer orders...) is worth something in France and Netherlands not because of some fundamental laws of physics, but only because the latter countries agreed to value the papers in some way. A decision made because of some amount of trust in each other's behavior, a currency which the current Greek government is debasing with breathtaking speed.

Or wait, it's actually even dumber:

Asylum seekers ... are not issued a residence permit, but are instead issued ... an authorisation to remain on the territory of the member state while the application is pending or being examined. This means that, whilst their application for refugee status is being processed, asylum seekers are only permitted to remain in the Schengen member state where they have claimed asylum and are not entitled to move freely within other states .... Successful applicants ... are issued residence permits.

So, the government in Athens has two ways to act on their 'migrant threat':

(1) Give out lots of asylum seeker authorizations... which do not allow people to travel to Berlin at all! Those people will be detained and sent back with the first passport control they encounter.

(2) Give out lots of residence permits. Congratulations, now these people are officially your problem. They will be able to travel to Berlin, but not receive public benefits there. So they'll probably prefer to stay in Greece and get public assistance there!

(2b) Unless they are, indeed, terrorists or otherwise bad people who will travel to other countries and do some bad stuff. I'm guessing in that case Greece will be booted out of Schengen area in about as much time as it takes to print an 'Eintritt verboten' sign.

The whole point is that these asylees will get transferred to other European countries where they will reside, regardless of legal status. They will have children who will be 'stateless' and be entitled to citizenship.

I read that people of Turkish origin whose families resided in Germany since the 70s still aren't eligible for German citizenship, so that doesn't seem a very bright plan either.

Well, it might just be time for the Germans and friends to stop all the moaning and make moves to kick the Greeks out. Cut off the money and move the border back a bit.

I'm rooting for Greece to default on it's debt. That'll remind the banksters why interest rates supposedly exist.

This guy needs to take a lesson from Greece

No wonder he is only the defence minister, if he were the finance minister he would have brokered that for cheap ISIL oil. Why give away something for nothing.

Anyway they are not that different from the Polish who hopes that China would invade Poland, they reckon that by then China would have conquered Russia. For the ISIL to enter Greece they would have passed thru Turkey.

Attention Poland, China is not coming from the east. They are coming from the south, they are building a high speed rail from Greece to the Balkans.

These hopes take a few centuries to come true, this one's about 16th/17th century Ottoman Empire.

The Poles got the idea from the Mongol invasion of Rus which took only three years and they pride themselves of being able to repel the Mongol.

Having read this, now I know what kind of coward Tyler Cowen truly is. And if he doesn't like being called a coward, why does not he:
-Go to those wars he'd like to see more of and actually participates
-Says something in response to these comments

There's one answer to your earlier question, "Why so much hate for the Left?"-- they tend to be assholes.

I don't think 'the left' has a monopoly on assholery, but this guy sure qualifies.

An interesting reflection on cultural stereotyping ('lazy Japanese', and 'thieving Germans'):

And what's with this whole mood affiliation thing ?
What's wrong with good old prejudice ?

The ECB has preformed very badly but the Greek IMHO the Greek Gov. should leave the Euro.

Comments for this post are closed