8
Jul

 What Are the Geostrategic Implications of a Grexit?

At the the moment, it is unclear how Greece will ultimately fare in the current duel of wills with the Troika over its technical default, the upcoming referendum, and the possibility of a continuation of the long-running bailout drama. The two sides are locked in acrimonious finger-pointing, Greek banks are shuttered for the week, and the logical but ever elusive diplomatic and economic solution — a reasonable negotiation between the parties — seems further away than ever. As a proud Greek-American, I am saddened by the situation.

Meanwhile, the July 5 referendum is judged too close to call at the moment, and most Greeks will likely be confused about the implications and uncertain how to vote. Macroeconomic theory appears to have been the first casualty of the process, and the doomsday economic scenarios — a crashed Greek economy, a battered if not broken euro, and a deeply shaken European project — are looming large on the horizon.

But in the midst of all of the appropriate Sturm und Drang of the Greek financial and economic crisis, it is worth considering the geostrategic implications of the “Grexit” — which have been largely ignored.

Let’s face it: A Greece that goes crashing out of the eurozone will be an angry, disaffected, and battered nation — but one that will continue to hold membership in the European Union and NATO, both consensus-driven organizations. (“Consensus-driven” means that without unanimous consent among all members, the organization cannot take decisions or execute effective operational actions.) Many times in NATO councils as the supreme allied commander I watched the agonizing process of building consensus, one compromise at a time. In both the EU and NATO, an uncooperative Greece in the future could time and time again put the organizations “in irons,” which is to say becalmed and not moving effectively forward.

This could manifest itself very quickly in, for example, decisions about sanctions against Russia (from which Greece is avidly courting support and funding, logically enough). It could easily affect day-to-day governance in the European Union over issues from negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership to agricultural subsidies to what should be done about refugee flows across the Mediterranean. Greece could become a troublesome and obstructionist actor in complex negotiations involving the EU, such as the Iranian nuclear treaty efforts.

 Read more…

James Stavridis is a retired four-star U.S. Navy admiral and NATO supreme allied commander who serves today as the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He recently gave a well attended seminar at the IE School of International Relations.

 

Published on 1 July, 2015 in http://foreignpolicy.com/

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