It is funny how the connection between two places can be accidentally established. First, there was Yanis Varoufakis, visiting professor at UT Austin and now it is James Galbraith, tenure professor at UT Austin, both played a significant role in Greek news. I have known that he is a close friend with Varoufakis, but never quite realized how Galbraith involved he was in the Greek situation. I briefly talked about the former here, it is time though to discuss about the latter. The first occasion I was close meeting him was when actually came to my hometown, Thessaloniki, the day when ERT broadcasting was forcefully shut down by the government, June 2013. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to see him then. I finally saw him this Spring at Cactus Cafe inside UT where he was giving a casual speech about Greece. I asked him a rather personal question about his feelings after all this effort, after the strong vote of referendum last summer that things are back to square zero. He said he was deeply disappointed and he doesn’t foresee any substantial progress from a quote “capitulated government”. Below you can find a picture of that evening.
Regarding the book I have to say that it served as a form of closure to me. I was too extremely let down after what happened to my country -for the 4th time- last year. That’s right, there have been 3 other governments before the current one that miserably failed to deal with the crisis which begun in 2010. The purpose of the book is to clarify what was exactly the case since January 2015 when the new series of negotiations were commenced. I needed that, I needed an opinion of someone who has the knowledge to put the events into perspective. I was satisfied reading all the comments, notes, articles he wrote during that period. It was unclear to me who had the ultimate responsibility or to put it another way, was the Greek part guilty as charged? After reading Galbraith’s statement I would suggest that Greece’s side despite all its flaws is not guilty. Objectivity is a principle that I continuously cherish and I believe that this man who was an external observer has the necessary qualifications for it. To quote from the prologue:
“The essays that follow are presented substantially as they were written at the time… I make no claim that every judgment was borne out; only that the stream of narrative will give the reader a fair impression of how the Greek drama unfolded, as seen from my vantage point”.
It is indeed a drama. When the last castle, as I named this initiative, has fallen there was one missing piece. The notorious Plan B or Plan X, which constituted the strategy of Greece should it exited the Euro currency or/and the European Union itself. Galbraith was in charge of that plan committee and he presented it in this book. He explained all the details and concludes, that he has been quote “overstating the difficulties and overlooked some promising ways around them”. The response of the Greek press was utterly depressing. It should be noted that those were the same people who were blaming back then the Greek team for not having a plan and pursue now the accusations for exactly the opposite reason. As the poet Seferis used to say “wherever I go, Greece keeps hurting me”.
Concluding, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to James Galbraith for his courage, his genuine concern and his struggle for Greece. It is the least I can do to counterbalance the poisoned chalice he was handed.