De Borchgrave: Greece, US, Living Beyond Means

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 07:59 PM

By Matthew Belvedere and Ashley Martella

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Greece is facing a debt crisis and possibly a default because they're "living way beyond their means" — and they're not alone, says award-winning journalist and Newsmax contributor Arnaud de Borchgrave.

"Every dollar that [Americans] spend we have to borrow 42 cents and Greece is even worse than that," adds de Borchgrave in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou survived a confidence vote in parliament early Wednesday, winning a gamble on his government's survival and the danger of a devastating debt default. Papandreou won more than the absolute majority of 151 votes he needed in the 300-member legislature to face down an internal party revolt and help him pass deeply disliked austerity measures that have provoked strikes, protests and a slump in his popularity.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that European Commission President José Manuel Barroso plans to propose — at a summit of European leaders later this week — an early payment of $1.4 billion dollars to Greece to help spur economic growth.

The danger here is "Greece pulling out of the European Union or the European Monetary Union, which includes 17 countries out of 28. And at that point, they would be on their own, give up the euro and that could ultimately snowball into Spain and into Portugal," warns de Borchgrave.







Concern about the debit crisis in Europe and in the United States, de Borchgrave says, has prompted some wealthy investors to move "everything out of dollars and totally out of the European Union as well . . . to Singapore and everything is in Asian currencies including Chinese."

Throughout his distinguished career, de Borchgrave covered or analyzed the biggest news stories in a generation. He spent three decades with Newsweek, 25 of those years as senior editor of the magazine. He was also editor in chief of The Washington Times before joining the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he heads up the Transnational Threats Project.

Looking at the staggering debt in the U.S., de Borchgrave believes that cuts in the defense budget need to be on the table.

"We can’t afford the defense budget, given the fact that we have outstanding loans of $14.3 trillion," he stresses. The debt ceiling needs to be "increased in the next few days or we’re in serious trouble."

De Borchgrave says the U.S. is "spending money on things that are totally useless, such as 9,000 tanks . . . I can’t conceive of a major tank battle anywhere in the world in the next 20 or 30 or 40 years."

Asked about reports that the Afghan government is now negotiating with the Taliban, de Borchgrave says he doesn't "see how one can avoid talking to the Taliban since we’re not planning to be [in Afghanistan] forever."

On the issue of Libya, he doubts "very seriously whether [Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi] will be removed." He also explains that "the rebels based in Benghazi are a mixed bag of all sorts of people, some obviously pro-U.S., pro-Western Europe, others apparently more pro-al-Qaida than anything else."

The future of al-Qaida and what the terrorist organization might be planning is of particular concern with the approach of September 11, 2011 — 10 years since the worst terrorist attacks ever on U.S. soil.

De Borchgrave says al-Qaida is no doubt planning something "more spectacular than 9/11 and what happened to the Twin Towers and The Pentagon. And they don't care whether that takes five or 10 or 15 more years to achieve."

But he feels that the terror group has been "seriously discombobulated by the killing of Osama bin Laden."

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