Colossal sovereign debts owed by member nations may yet shatter the eurozone. The political effects of a euro-breakup are uncertain, though Greece may be serving as an unfortunate indicator of what a small state can expect in terms of troubling future history if the world's fragile economic circumstances deteriorate.
Greece has witnessed a loss of faith in government and its leaders, leaving state institutions that much weaker. After it announced austerity measures to facilitate debt payment, popular rage forced Greece's former government to resign. Its caretaker government begs for domestic cooperation and international help. Yet local turmoil continues, to include terrorist threats in the name of economic justice and national identity. This anger seeds an ugly intra-European war waged with inflammatory words. Germans are called Nazis, of course, but now the French are also slandered as greedy imperialists. Have-nots in Europe's debt-burdened south reproach the haves (who loaned them money) in Europe's debt-wary north.
Greece's shrinking economy has, logically, led to defense budget cuts. The Greek Navy's squadron of German Type 219 submarines is, if not sunk, beached in payment disputes. According to StrategyPage.com, the army may eliminate several brigades. The government, however, does not want to cut back on the regular force's personnel strength because that would increase unemployment. Meanwhile, Greece's traditional foe, Turkey, is buying Type 219s. Despite being NATO allies, military competition with Turkey has shaped Greek defense budgets. Greece can no longer afford it.
Defense, of course, is only one element of national security. Besides, Muslim Turkey won't bait Christian Greece, will it? Well, the brewing confrontation over natural gas in Cypriot waters, with Turkish Navy ships shadowing oil exploration vessels, may argue otherwise. Turkey wants the division of Cyprus (a frozen war) resolved before gas production starts.
In 2012, Greece is, as stipulated, a small state. If it leaves the euro-zone, Europe's big economies will adjust. If frictions develop over Cyprus, the U.S. would defuse Greco-Turk tensions. That's the betting line.
In 1912, however, Balkan resentments ignited the First Balkan War. World War I followed in 1914. Europe's Great Powers failed to adjust.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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