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Europe slouching towards anxiety and war

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Reprinted from RT

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Greek and EU flags
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Europe, which the EU is supposed to represent, is fighting a double war that could ravage it beyond recognition -- against Greece within its own borders, and against Russia in Ukraine.

An exhibition in Rome could not -- inadvertently -- be more graphic in defining the zeitgeist: "The Age of Anxiety -- from Commodus to Diocletian." Well, Roman emperors could barely imagine it would get much worse under the EU.

The tantalizingly tense face-off between Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem and new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has set up the battlefield; the EU won't accept a "unilateral" Greece, and Greece won't accept a bailout extension or the diktats of the troika (EU, ECB, IMF).

Legend has already taken over; after Varoufakis was firm on the "no troika" talk -- as in no more economic terrorism -- at the end of their press conference in Athens, Dijsselbloem murmured something in his ear that Greek officials have interpreted as a Pulp Fiction-style "I'ma get medieval on your ass."

So now it's all-out Athens against the Masters of the Universe (the EU division). Independent observers would be tempted to see it as post-modern Perseus trying to slay the EU Medusa -- a monster so frightful that no living thing could behold her without being turned into stone.

The Medusa is now the troika. Medusa Queen Merkel and her minions -- like Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble ("we won't be blackmailed"), plus the usual faceless officials using sub-Homeric metaphors such as "tied to the mast of confrontation" -- are ramping up the pressure with no debt reduction. After the Dijsselbloem-Varoufakis face-off, it would be up to the European Commission (EC) bureaucratic nightmare to come up with a feasible alternative for a Greek debt write-down.

Syriza is saying it wants to remain in the eurozone, but forget about paying Greece's crushing debt through austerity. So the ball is bound to remain in Brussels's court -- as much as Dijsselbloem has spun the contrary. And troika pressure will be almost unbearable, as in convincing Athens to "honor" its debt -- or else. In practical terms, we'll be talking about an ultra-complex process of debt restructuring, or more EU funding for Athens, or eventually both.

The Perseus gambit wouldn't be to slay the Medusa while it's asleep (Masters of the Universe never sleep); it would be to unilaterally default on a significant portion of the debt. If diplomacy fails, Brussels will then have to impose sanctions (they're very good at that; see Iran and Russia) but ultimately kick Greece out of the euro -- the nuclear option that Eurocrats dread more than the Black Death. For the moment, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is definitely bluffing, warning Greek Prime Minister Tsipras that the eurozone could survive without Greece ("We no longer have to worry like we did back then.")

If, however, Brussels admits a de facto, even partial, default, it would result in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and scores of other EU sufferers screaming "We want the same deal."

The Medusa is rampaging, and hardcore squeezing launched by its myriad of troika serpents will be titanic. The next crucial showdown will be a Brussels summit of EU leaders on February 12. Perseus Tsipras better polish his shield and spear to perfection.

Better call Vlad

Then there's the other crucial vector in this Age of Anxiety remix: Russia.

Moscow could indeed bail outbail out Athens, a possibility which has already been mentioned. So the Western corporate spin about Greece supporting this week's extension of sanctions against Russian interests is nonsense.

Here is the essential background. And directly from Varoufakis, there is proof that Greece was not even consulted. Another nail in the lavish coffin of the myth of EU "democratic" practices.

Don't expect puny EU puppets posing as "leaders" -- who derive their prestige by being vassals of the amnesiac Empire of Chaos -- to cultivate any historical memory. Which brings us to Ukraine.

Ukraine was part of Russia for three centuries -- way longer than Texas and California have been part of the US. Russia giving up Ukraine after the end of the USSR does not hold as a historical precedent to justify the Maidan coup d'etat, billions of dollars financing internal subversion, and the subsequent looting of Ukraine by US multinationals, Germany, and the City of London. Not to mention the whole saga is mostly -- and will remain mostly -- about NATO expansion.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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