The Soros pattern, Greek edition: Provoke, take power, wreck stability, drag in the U.S. government — and its Obama holdovers.
One of the few fascinating things you learn by looking closely at George Soros’s output is how often he is wrong.
The financial Dark Lord, who made a billion dollars overnight when he bet against the British pound in 1992, constantly predicts the sky is falling. Most of the time, it isn’t.
He was mocked for exaggerating risks to the economic order in his 1998 book, The Crisis of Global Capitalism. Last year, he declared, “The EU is on the verge of collapse,” in a New York Review of Books interview. His end-of-year assessment for 2016 was: “Democracy is now in crisis.” At the global elite retreat in Davos, Switzerland, this year, he predicted Donald Trump’s inauguration would be bad news for the stock market.
No, no, nope, and wrong again.
Regarding Greece, Soros routinely anticipated disaster in the first years of its financial crisis.
In a 2011 speech in Vienna, he declared, “We are on the verge of an economic collapse which starts, lets’s say, in Greece,” making break-up of the Eurozone “probably inevitable” — a cataclysm that could produce zillions in easy money for high-flying speculators like George Soros, as one of his Greek acolytes pointed out.
But something changed.
Soros saw potential for a different kind of upheaval centered in Greece that intrigued him more than merely adding to his personal money mountain: blowing up borders.
In 2012, George Soros began focusing on migration in Greece, calling it a crisis before it was one, setting the stage for a cataclysm that engulfed the continent three years later.
The tsunami of economic migrants and displaced people (most of the Syrians on the move had been living in Turkey for months or years and left because Turkey would not let them work, not because their survival was immediately threatened) catapulted toward Germany, framed entirely as a refugee crisis, wasn’t inevitable until Soros and his activist army of non-government organizations (NGOs) got involved.
Soros picked a target (barriers to movement between Turkey and Greece), paralyzed the ability of existing institutions to deal with it, and mobilized a new political party, Syriza, to facilitate his agenda.
In Greece, George Soros’s propensity to promote chaos, then capitalize on it, has had wide geopolitical implications.
Blame Germany, Not PASOK
In all his early critiques of the Greek debt crisis, Soros reserves special ire for Germany.
With characteristic bombast, in 2010 he asserts, “Germany is endangering the European Union,” by insisting on Greek fiscal austerity, budget cuts, and tax hikes in exchange for financial aid from the European Union (EU).
To anyone who would listen, he unfolded a critique portraying Greece as a victim, a country unfairly controlled by the EU’s fatally flawed Maastricht Treaty that, in Soros’s analysis, gives undue authority to Europe’s strongest economies.
Nowhere does Soros criticize the country’s own political or economic policies or the socialist party that dominated Greece since 1981.
It was under Prime Minister George Papandreou, a Soros pal, that the Greek fiscal disorder was unveiled.
Papandreou is scion of a legendary political family that produced three generations of PMs. His father, Andreas, founded the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in 1974 and served as the party’s charismatic prime minister between 1981-89 and 1993-96.
Andreas Papandreou is awarded significant responsibility for creating a bloated, inefficient public sector — free education and health care, massive public sector employment — built on cheap European credit by dispassionate observers.
Between 1981 and 2011, PASOK controlled the Greek state for 22 of 30 years, including 2001, the year Greece adopted the Euro based on dubious financial data.
When the proverbial dung hit the fan, in 2010, Greece’s deficit was estimated as 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product (EU countries are required to keep it under 3 percent) and the country’s debt was more than 120 percent of GDP, more than twice the EU limit. Local media reported on Soros’s personal visit to George Papandreou at his office in parliament in 2011, purportedly to discuss the country’s dire straits and assure him of President Obama’s commitment to help.
But George Soros never suggests George Papandreou (or his father) played any negative role, especially when they sit together pontificating, as they did at Columbia University, because Papandreou and PASOK have served Soros’ interests in the past.
As foreign minister in 1999-2004, George Papandreou helped his friend George Soros and his larger goals. For example, while Greece held the European Union presidency in 2003, Papandreou helped promote Balkan integration into the EU, as Open Society Foundations (OSF), Soros’s hydra-headed NGO network, favored.
Soros even stationed a Sorosista, Alex Rondo, at Papandreou’s side during his foreign ministry tenure. Rondo oversaw a 251 percent increase in payouts to NGOs, millions of which have been legally challenged by the Greek government since as bogus.
As an international meddler who functions through transnational elite networks, Soros is careful to protect his brethren.
But by 2011, that card had been played. Papandreou was forced from power. A caretaker government was installed to implement austerity measures.
By George Soros’s analysis, it was all Germany’s fault, and he had a new weapon against Old Europe: transnational migration.
In October 2012, the billionaire wrote an op-ed for the Guardian, “Helping Greek Migrants Would Show European Solidarity.” To revive the EU’s original vision, Soros announced he would establish “solidarity houses” in Greece modeled on safe houses set up for Jews by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg in wartime Hungary.
Among Soros’s goals was to assist refugees held in inhumane detention facilities. The program would also help the Greek poor, he wrote, otherwise the aid risked provoking xenophobic, neo-fascists.
In 2013, Soros created Solidarity Now, a program to provide shelter and other assistance to displaced people, as promised. He put a close friend in charge, another money guy, Stelios (or Stylianos) Zavvos, CEO of Zeus Capital Managers. Through Zavvos, Soros associated with a wide range of Greek elite in politics, finance, and shipping, as captured in a National Herald account of Soros’s role as godfather to Zavvos’s daughter.
A critical move in the science of agitation is identifying an impropriety that makes your opponent vulnerable then clubbing the opponent with it. Think of the Soros-financed #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Saul Alinsky codified the technique in his 1971 classic Rules for Radicals, which OSF published in Macedonia on USAID’s dime!
In Greece, OSF used longtime ally Amnesty International to paint the target.
To block the most popular overland route for undocumented people seeking entry to the EU from Turkey, Frontex, the EU agency on border security, helped the Greek government put up a 6.5-mile steel fence at the Evros River. Frontex also armed Greek border police with search dogs, night-vision goggles, and helicopters.
Illegal crossings into Greece plummeted on this key border: from 6,000 arrests in July 2012 to 45 six months later.
As a result of the blocked land border, the main smuggling route between Turkey and Greece shifted to the sea. As the number of undocumented migrants transiting from Turkey to Greece on the Aegean jumped between 2012 and 2013, the Hellenic Coast Guard increasingly used “pushback” tactics, repulsing boats away from the Greek coast into Turkish waters.
The practice violates international law, a fact that Amnesty International (AI) highlighted in its report Frontier Europe: Human Rights Abuses on Greece’s border with Turkey, published by its London-based International Secretariat, where research is centered, in July 2013.
That office received $500,000 for 2013 from Soros, though it got nothing the year before.
Meanwhile, Open Society Foundation scaled up the AI campaign, sponsoring a public debate and report release in March 2014 at the European Parliament in Brussels on EU Migration Policy: A Push Back for Migrants’ Rights in Greece? that brought together a raft of NGOs, many financed by OSF, to heap criticism on Greece.
It’s not sufficient to provoke anger against a national policy; you need to influence (ideally, control) the national leaders with power to change it.
George Soros began cultivating Alexis Tsipras, 42, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, a political party known as Syriza for their shared social agenda as much as their conviction that austerity was bad for Greece.
Syriza started in 2004 as a big tent of extreme left-wing entities — with caricature-like names such as “Renewing Communist Ecological Left” (AKOA) — but burst on the national scene in 2012 as the only political party consistently standing against the painful austerity measures imposed on Athens by “the troika”: the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.
Tsipras’s youth benefited the party. His political provenance as a teen communist was ignored.
Soros sponsored a trip to the United States for Tsipras in February 2013 through a think tank he founded in 2009, the New York-based Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).
In meetings with the State Department and Treasury, the IMF, the Brookings Institution, and not to mention the New York Times editorial board, Tsipras reinforced his message that despite his extremist pedigree, the West could do business with him.
But he also put on his angry face at Columbia Law School declaring, “We have become the guinea pig for barbaric, violent neoliberal policies,” and insulted Germany, while warning about rising neo-fascism.
Back in Greece, Syriza won big, first in European parliament elections in May 2014 then in parliamentary elections called in January 2015.
Because Syriza was three votes shy of a parliamentary majority, Tsipras allied with a small center-right party, Independent Greeks (ANEL), to govern.
The first sign that Tsipras, an atheist, rejects cultural tradition and norms (probably more than so-called neo-liberal economics) came at his swearing in as prime minister: He refused to take his oath of office from the Greek Orthodox Archbishop.
Before the election, immigration policy was not a major issue; one Syriza leader explained the party would maintain a “common European immigration policy with obligations and rights” while seeking more money from the EU for border security.
A front-page headline in London declaring “Syriza’s historic win puts Greece on collision course with Europe,” referring to economic policy, applied much sooner to the new regime’s plans for immigration.
George Soros and OSF promoted liberal migration policies early on, in the 1990s, but nothing did as much to make open borders a reality as Alexis Tsipras and Syriza in 2015.
In its first month, Syriza’s deputy immigration minister announced the government would turn refugee detention facilities into welcome centers and would discontinue Operation Xenios Zeus, an aggressive policy of identifying and deporting illegal migrants.
On April 14, the government declared all Syrian refugees would receive documents for onward travel to Europe.
The Aegean migration trend that had been building for months exploded almost immediately. According to UN Refugee Commission data, between April and May, refugee/migrant sea arrivals to Greece increased 40 percent. Astonishingly, between April and August, arrivals increased 721 percent (from 13,133 to 107,843). More refugees arrived in July than in all of 2014.
The central government had no plan for handling the refugee surge — at least not one they shared with its mayors. Asked at a meeting in April what would happen to refugees once registered, one authority said they would “simply disappear” to “Europe,” though she did not know how. When the mayors laughed incredulously, she added, “I control entry not exit.”
Not only did the Syriza-led government come from the gate with a dramatic migration policy fully in sync with George Soros’s vision, but its leadership explicitly described the policy as payback… against Germany.
The foreign minister first suggested a link between Greek immigration policy and negotiations with the EU on the sidelines of an informal EU meeting in Riga in March 2015, declaring, “There will be millions of immigrants and thousands of jihadists who will come to Europe,” if no deal is reached.
Willingness to use immigration policy as a weapon against Germany was again declared in March, when the defense minister menaced, “If they [EU] deal a blow to Greece, then they should know the migrants will get papers to go to Berlin. If Europe leaves us in the crisis, we will flood it with migrants, and it will be even worse for Berlin if in that wave of millions of economic migrants there will be some jihadists of the Islamic State too.”
Soon after the government’s announcement that Syrian refugees would be treated with love (and travel docs), Syriza’s Interior Minister Nickos Voutsis said refugees should be given three-month EU residency permits so they could get to their favored destination — typically Germany — a proposal that directly contradicted EU law on asylum, which says asylum seekers have to stay in the country they enter. (Voutsis currently serves as speaker of the Hellenic Parliament.)
In the chaos that accompanied the migration tsunami, very few policymakers or journalists pointed to the main factor that flipped the switch: the Syriza government, prompted by Soros-driven policy prescriptions.
And as often happens, the consequences of the Sorosista proposal made a bad situation worse: In April 2014, 42 illegal immigrants died on the sea route from Turkey to Greece.
One year later, in April 2015, as policies promoted by George Soros and OSF were quickly implemented, 1,308 people died in the sea — an increase of more than 3,000 percent.
Tsipras the Globalist Puppet
The DCLeaks hack of OSF documents last summer confirmed Soros’s engagement on and enthusiasm for illegal migration, especially the version playing out in Greece.
It was revealed that Open Society-Brussels created the Xen Fund — for Xenophobia — to identify and support proponents of “diversity migration” among NGOs, academics, journalists, and even elected officials beginning in 2012.
Last May, in a nine-page memo, OSF’s International Migration Initiative described the Mediterranean crisis as the “new normal,” congratulating OSF for having actors in place to take advantage of “new opportunities”: “Events in the Mediterranean… present new opportunities for reforming migration governance at the global level…. Our longstanding interest and investment… means we have many of the right partners and are positioned to help others navigate this space.”
WikiLeaks revealed on July 10, 2015, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta, contacted the former president on behalf of the White House, asking Clinton if he would try to persuade PM Tsipras to make a deal with the EU for a debt relief package — despite Greek voters having voted “no” in a referendum on such a deal held just five days earlier. Similar calls to other elite also went out from the White House.
Within days of the U.S. charm offensive, Tsipras caved.
In fact, almost from the minute he was elected, Tsipras turned his back on his electorate to negotiate with the troika.
Syriza’s first finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, recently revealed Tsipras threatened him to concede to international bankers in July 2015, so he resigned instead.
Last week, Tsipras convinced the Greek parliament to endorse pension cuts and tax increases — inspiring street riots — to unlock a $7.5-billion financial package from EU lenders, an amount that almost matches payments due to international creditors of $7 billion when “bonds mature” in July.
Seven years into this “crisis,” Greece is groveling for a loan to repay creditors.
Greek journalist Petros Arguriou notes Tsipras has done a 180 degree turn away from the positions he advocated in 2015 — the defiant anti-austerity platform that won his election.
“He is trying to make alliances with practically everyone — the Greek Orthodox Church, which was supposed to be the enemy of every committed Marxist, with each and every compromised businessman, with drug dealers… he’s not even being selective,” Arguriou said.
“He’s everyone’s friend except the people, like every left-wing politician,” the analyst concluded.
Meanwhile, illegal migration between Turkey and Greece increased again this spring; what prevents a surge like the summer of 2015 is a fragile agreement between the EU and Turkey that has held for more than a year, but it’s a floodgate that could break.
Where is George Soros in all this now?
Always a step ahead, he’s working on flipping Macedonia (with help from Obama holdovers). Against a conservative government maintaining tight border controls, Soros and OSF are close to empowering a destabilizing Muslim-socialist alliance advocating ethnic separatism, a list of leftist social solutions, and… an open border with Greece.
Six senators requested the State Department investigate the puzzling grip George Soros continues to have on U.S. foreign policy in Macedonia and elsewhere.
As the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez explains, these senators can’t get a straight answer, because Obama-appointees continue to run the levers and pulleys of the U.S. foreign policy machine: “Career bureaucrats are running the government.”
(Our series, “Soros in the Balkans Under the American Flag,” will continue.)
Syriza's Alexis Tsipras (FrangiscoDer/Creative Commons)