There are a lot of new twists to the old story of massive demonstrations in Greece. This is the first time in my life (I first went to Greece in 1973) that I can remember Greek rioting and demonstrations that were not anti-American. Oh, there have been a few contorted efforts to blame the Wall Street “Jews” for the 2008 meltdown that in turn supposedly called in Greek credit, but it is a half-hearted attempt, and for the most part the Greeks seem bewildered that they cannot properly fault the U.S. for much of anything in their present disaster — so unlike the old days of the 1967 coup, the colonels, the Cold War, the American support for Israel, the oil boycotts of 1973, the 1974 Cyprus disaster, the bombing of a kindred Orthodox Milosevic, etc. But it has been a generation since the Greeks have had much to do with the U.S. The Greek lobby is long retired from the Congress. The Obama administration is enthralled with Turkey. Former prime minister and U.S. citizen Andreas Papandreou long ago cut any remaining close ties with the U.S. in a flurry of anti-American and pro-Soviet rhetoric designed to appeal to popular anti-Americanism. The Greek diaspora in the U.S. is mostly third-generation, intermarried, and assimilated, and the net result is that we are now spectators, not players, in the present tragedy.
The end of utopianism is certainly causing far more furor than had the utopian dream never materialized, so the anger against Germany in the popular press (“Gautleiters,” “The Fourth Reich”, “Dachau!”, etc) is far greater now than had the Germans and their friends never loaned the Greeks nearly $400 billion in the first place. What is strange to watch is the nature of the Greek furor: that the Germans are probably eventually willing to forgive hundreds of billions almost seems to enrage Greeks all the more — for their debtors’ unwillingness to go all the way by forgiving the entire huge sum. The thinking is almost, “Well, if they have that much money to forgive, why not forgive it all?”