Summary: So many of the threads of history today run through Greece and the Middle East (not for the first time). The range of possible outcomes is wide, from wonderful to horrific. Yet we know too little to make accurate predictions (I suggest making free time by ignoring the confident guesses that overflow the news channels). Here we examine the key facts.
The Greek-Troika negotiations might have large effects on the future of Europe. Here’s my analysis (it’s similar to Tyler Cowen’s , but with more detail).
(1) The news tells us little.
Cowen nails this: “The further apart the various parties appear to be, the more the whip of concession gets cracking. The closer to an agreement they may seem, the greater the incentive to play hardball and demand further concessions.” Also, press releases seek to influence public opinion, not inform us.
(2) Do both sides have a negotiating strategy? Does either side?
Cowen: “quite often leaders in critical positions simply do not know what they are doing. By no means is that always the case, but it is more often the case than narrative-imposing journalism encourages us to perceive.”
Both sides certainly have a clear understanding of what they want. Do they have a clear negotiating strategy? Or do they just stumble along, responding to events? History overflows with examples of the latter, with July 1914 at the top of the list.
Both sides quite sensibly keep their cards hidden, so we can only guess. Some of their public statements seem disturbing. Like the following from Helena Smith’s interview with Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis (The Guardian, 13 Feb). Is he sincere or posturing as a tactic?