Greece, one of the smaller countries in the European Union, spends more than any other country in the EU on defense as a percentage of its GDP: 3.3%. By comparison, Germany, the most populous country in the EU spends less than 2% of its GDP on defense, these figures from a television report on Aljazeera broadcast today.
Wikipedia, relying on various sources, supports this:
It must be noted that Greek arms purchasing is among the highest in the world: Greece ranked 3rd in the world in 2004.
At a time when the country is an economic crisis, the Greek government intends to shell out 2.5 billion Euros on 6 naval ships and several submarines for .5 billion Euros each.
Apropos of this, Wikipedia, relying on a BBC report says that:
Regarding the purchase of 30 F-16 and 333 Leopard tanks in 2005, both parties criticized the New Democracy administration for spending money on weapons while doing nothing to relieve the lower classes and said that high military spending "does not correspond to the real needs of the country but is carried out according to NATO planning and to serve weapon manufacturers and the countries that host them".
Similarly, Aljazeera in its recent broadcast interviewed a member of Greece’s Parliament. He said his country is under severe pressure from nations to cut its budget but the same countries want it to spend more on military purchases.
The United States is the major arms seller to Greece.
According to the Federation of American Scientists (an organization of top scientists formed in 1945 from members of the Manhattan Project with Nobel Prize winners on its board) shows Greece to be a leading purchaser of “U.S. Defense Articles and Services” to the amount of:
$3 billion (from 1997 to 2000) ranking Greece #1 in Europe for those years and #5 worldwide;
$1.4 billion (from 2001 to 2004) ranking Greece #3 in Eur. for those years and #9 worldwide;
$170 million in 2004 ranking Greece #3 in Europe for that year.
Most of these weapons appear to be military planes. Indeed, the Wikipedia article cited above (see the comment following footnote #8) indicates that:
The Greek publication Elevtherotipia reported that former Ambassador Nicholas Burns had taken part in attempting to dissuade Greek officials from purchasing the Eurofighter in favor of a U.S. military aircraft.
So what we see is the U.S. government, through an Ambassador, acting to promote sales of a U.S. plane essentially acting as a salesman and doing the bidding for private arms manufacturers.
Moreover, on December 16, 2009, the Telegraph (U.K.) reported that Greece’s economy was under severe strain due to excessive military spending and that the amount of this spending was hidden from the public:
To make matters worse, there were fresh concerns yesterday about the true scale of Greek military spending, which is kept off the books of the debt agency.
“Greek military accounts seem to be regarded as a state secret,” said Chris Pryce, Fitch’s director of sovereign ratings.
“In every other EU country we can find out how much they spend on defence, but we don’t know for Greece. All we know is that their military spending is very large, around 5pc of GDP,” he said.
Analysts who have probed deeply into Greek accounts have been astonished to discover that parts of the public sector lack double-entry book-keeping, 700 years after it was invented by the Venetians.
Given Greece has misled the bond markets and Brussels in the past over its deficits, analysts suspect that Athens may try to hide problems behind a military veil. Mr Papandreou admits that Greece has lost “every shred of credibility”.
The same report contained some fascinating information relating to possible weapons purchases from Germany companies. It said that the Greek government in September, 2009, had warned ThyssenKrupp [both Thyssen and Krupp were favorites of Hitler; they merged in 2000 as discussed below in note #2] it would not take delivery of 4 of that company’s submarines thus canceling a contract for 520 million Euros and that early in December it also was canceling contracts for maritime aircraft worth 250 million Euros.
So, let’s see what we have here. First, the Greek government buys far too many armaments, so many its defense spending fuels an economic crisis. Then late last year the country threatens to cut 3/4 billion Euros worth of contracts to Germany’s huge war manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp. Greece totters closer to the brink BUT Germany leads the EU in putting together a huge package, worth a reported 150 billion Euros, to prop it up (see note #1 below). But it appears that a large amount of that taxpayer money (coming from assorted European countries) will now go to buying weapons from a private company in Germany. So who is the bailout really helping out? Greece? Germany? or ThyssenKrupp?
And where have we seen these kind of huge bailouts before essentially going to major multinational corporations?
So how about some budget hawks, in the United States, in Greece, and in the EU, standing up and demanding severe cuts in Greece’s military budgets and its arms purchases AND an investigation into why taxpayer monies are going to help out huge armaments manufacturers? Unfortunately, all we seem to be hearing instead is for the need for Greece (and the United States) to cut social programs.
Why is that do you think?
The amount of the EU bailout to Greece is still not clear but on May 12, 2010, the Daily Mail (U.K.) reported this:
Today, Bild [an important German source] said: ‘The EU and the Eurozone want to spend a massive 750billion Euros to save the European currency. Germany alone will have to fork out 123billion Euros for its bankrupt neighbours.
‘There is now not enough money for the planned tax cuts here!
‘Are we really the schmucks of Europe?
It appears that about 150 billion Euros of that package is specifically earmarked for Greece, according to various sources.
ThyssenKrupp is a huge German manufacturer with over 200,000 employees. It is the result of a merger between Thyssen and Krupp in 2000.
Friederick "Fritz" Thyssen was the head of his family’s business and helped to put Hitler into power. He gave huge amounts of money to the Nazis and in November, 1932, according to Wikipedia:
Thyssen and Hjalmar Schacht were the main organisers of a letter to President Paul von Hindenburg urging him to appoint Hitler as Chancellor. Thyssen also persuaded the Association of German Industrialists to donate 3 million Reichsmarks to the Nazi Party for the March, 1933 Reichstag election. As a reward, he was elected a Nazi member of the Reichstag and appointed to the Council of State of Prussia, the largest German state (both purely honorary positions).
Although Thyssen was tried for being a Nazi, he denied it and just paid a fine to get out of his difficulties and emigrated to Argentina.
For its part, the Krupp family and its companies have a history of over 400 years of selling arms. Krupp made most of Hitler’s panzer tanks. Krupp industries during World War II used slaves to make their weapons and bombs.
Hitler himself said this in an address to the Hitler Youth:
"In our eyes, the German boy of the future must be slim and slender, as fast as a greyhound, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel" („… der deutsche Junge der Zukunft muß schlank und rank sein, flink wie Windhunde, zäh wie Leder und hart wie Kruppstahl.")