Nikos Milonas, a member of the Greek Green Party, said that Germany, France and the United States have been the biggest purveyors of weapons, weapons that have only benefitted foreign corporations. “If we had slashed our military spending years ago, we wouldn’t be in this crisis,” he said. Military spending over the past 30 years accounts for over 1/3 of Greece’s current debt.
Much of the equipment comes from Germany, the country most responsible for bailing out Greece and the loudest in condemning Greeks for living beyond their means. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded the Greek government "to do its homework" on debt reduction, she wasn’t talking about revisiting the over one billion dollars that Greece had spent on two submarines from Germany or the more than two dozen F16 fighter jets it bought from the United States at a cost of more than 2 billion dollars.
Greek Alternate Defense Minister Panos Beglitis, who is in charge of military procurement, said Greece would postpone military purchases as the nation struggled to pull itself out of a financial crisis that has pushed it close to bankruptcy. But it remains in talks with France over the purchase of six frigates, while Germany, France, Israel and the United States are eager to sell the country more fighter jets.
The people of Greece are fed up with this wasteful military spending. “Our government cares more about the demands of a few powerful nations than the needs of its own citizens,” said 22-year-old Achima Tzavaras, who has been camping out in Athens’ main square for weeks. “That’s why there has always been plenty of money for new tanks, missiles, submarines and fighter planes but not for schools, hospitals and public transportation.” Tzavaras, who has been unemployed for a year and helps organize other unemployed young people, said the government should focus on creating jobs not buying weapons.
The same could be said for the United States, which is undergoing its own financial crisis while maintaining massive military expenditures. But don’t count on Hillary Clinton advocating an austerity plan for Greece or the United States that would alienate her friends in the weapons business.