Sunday, March 19, 2017

When a PIG Can Fly

While it is comforting that the military cooperation between NATO Greece and the West continues, I do worry that the economic debacle in Greece makes them vulnerable to a defection by Greece paid for by Russia and China who will end the migrant crisis and flood Greece with money in exchange for Russian and Chinese military bases in Greek territory.

Sure, this is good:

The trilateral Noble Dina exercise between the American, Israeli and Hellenic navies will begin later this month, with nearly a dozen surface ships, submarines and related air assets scheduled to engage in joint reconnaissance, counterterror and antisubmarine warfare training.

But are we whistling past the graveyard?

As the Greek economic crisis enters its seventh year, the difficulties standing in the way of its resolution continue to mount. At first glance, this is surprising. After all, Greece is a small country, representing just 2 percent of the European Union’s economy, and is home to just over 10 million of the bloc’s more than 500 million citizens. But it has played an outsize role in driving the political and economic uncertainty facing Europe today, and has in many ways taken the brunt of the fallout. ...

Greece’s position is a tricky one: Standing at the crossroads of three continents, the country’s strategic value has always invited trouble and placed it at the forefront of nearly every geopolitical crisis of the 20th century.

The last thing I worry about is Greece taking down the EU. That's the silver lining in any scenario I worry about.

No, I worry that given its standing at the crossroads, Greece will decide that NATO and the EU provide no protection against the twin threats of migrants and financial crisis.

I worry that Greece will defect to Russia and China.

Russia will provide ruthlessness to help on the former and China the money for the latter to cushion the impact of repudiating debt owed to Europe.

Add in that for Greece, NATO was mostly a shield against fellow NATO state Turkey. (Yes, that's why Greece is one of the "good" European states on defense spending. Hurray, eh?)

If Turkey is getting wobbly on NATO membership as it feuds with Europe and flirts with Russia and China, seemingly pining for Ottoman glory days, Greece might decide that being within a different alliance that includes Turkey where the dominant powers can restraint Turkey against weaker Greece might be wise.

Remember, Greece would be a major asset both for Russia's gambit to dominate the eastern Mediterranean Sea and China's New Silk Road project with sea lines of trade reaching Greece as the entryway into Europe. Each has the motivation to engineer a Greek defection.

Portugal, Italy, and Greece are the financially insolvent PIGs that Europe watches closely (Ireland was once a second "I" in that group). Europe thinks that their deliberations on how Greece will be bailed out of their crises are the only game in town and that Greece is stuck within that universe of options.

Yet Greece may find that with Russian and Chinese wings, it can fly away from its many problems by selling their soil (for bases) to the Devils they don't know.

Of course, such a bold move by Greece would also distract from the problem caused by Greece's political system and allow the entrenched factions to continue on as is, but with different foreign backers.

Why I sleep like a baby at night is a mystery to me.

NOTE: I added the link and quote to the article on Greek-Israeli-American naval exercises that I clearly forgot in the original post.

UPDATE: Italy could bolt from the EU, too. Although I don't worry about a defection to Russia or China if they do reject political Europe.

UPDATE: Our relations with Greece are good these days, mind you. But should extremists on either side of the spectrum gain unrestrained power in Athens, all bets are off, I think.