During the month of June 68 years ago, U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall stood before the graduates of Harvard University, pulled from his pocket a few sheets of paper and read his plan for the reconstruction of Europe that came to be known by his name.
Marshall said the U.S.A. will do “whatever it is able” to help rebuild the continent and restore its “normal economic health,” without which there could be “no political stability and no assured peace” throughout the world.
This timely story was repeated by Henry Kissinger in an article for Harvard’s newspaper to remind everyone that earlier generations faced worse crises than today’s and how they acted.
Regarding the current crisis facing Europe, the example of the Marshall Plan is very useful. Europe today is not in ashes. It is, generally, a prosperous continent, at peace. However, the dream of a united Europe is in jeopardy.
The European Union is a historic project that it would be a shame – to say the least – if it were to be damaged. Henry Kissinger did not propose solutions for the current situation in Europe. But he clearly implied that leaders need to make bold decisions with broad horizons.
Some elements of such a plan could include the following:
First, they should take the irrevocable decision that the Eurozone will remain united. And secondly, to “whatever it is able” to ensure the success of this objective.
I recognize that the situation in Greece is somewhat peculiar. That rather than embracing the opportunity for modernization, it is fighting tooth-and-nail to resist change.
I recognize that the Tsipras government is trying everyone’s patience. But, as has rightly been said, “What kind of Europe would that be without the Parthenon?”
Greece, we have to accept it as a fact, unfortunately, was not properly developed. It did not build sound institutions.
It is still experiencing “growing pains.” It needs more time, therefore, and effort, to catch up with its partners.
This will require courageous and generous decisions – “without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace.”
Without these – have no doubt – the current political situation in Greece will look like a Golden Age compared to what will come.
So what is to be done? The troika must make a substantial haircut or extend the repayment period for the loans for decades so the country will be able to see the light of day.
Of course, this cannot be done without conditions: Athens should gradually implement serious reforms. No more monkey business. This suits everyone’s interest.