'Each man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world'
-- Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

'Artists are tricky fellows sir, forever shaping the world according to some design of their own'
-- Jonathan Strange, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Call to Arms: Greece buys Franco-German Weapons

Interesting article from Independent, that over the last decade, Greece has been one of the top five arms importers in the world, with a population of only eleven million, and that a lot of defence ministers had been bribed, though the article does not provide further details on the latter allegations. The justification is the perceived threat from Turkey.

Which throws up a number of questions - has forced militarisation sunk the Greek economy? has it been forced from within, as a genuine foreign policy concern or has it been forced from a franco-german defence axis keen for foreign markets? And couldn't Greece have made a defence pact with France and Germany, beneath the E.U umbrella, negating such a large defence budget?

The article notes the severity of the arms procurement, for example,

"Even in 2010, when the extent of the financial disaster was apparent, Greece bought 223 howitzers and a submarine from Germany at a cost of €403m"

Historians will examine the budgets of these periphery nations and may well judge that arms procurement was key in melting at least the Greek economy.

But why does it so often play out that nations will escalate weapons procurement, even in the face of severe fiscal restrictions? Think of the military complex and its part in the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the rhetoric of an external enemy plays well with incumbent politicians. There's a global recession, sure, but that hasn't stopped Putin this weekend from pledging more money for defense. The reason? NATO's proposed missile shield. Putin is strong on foreign policy, hence to identify an external aggressor leads the voter to choose a strong leader. Only then, the leader must live up the rhetoric and pursue crippling and unnecessary defense spending.

Further reading:

Andrew Feinstein, 'The Shadow World"

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