THE BLOG

Angela's Ashes and Tsipras's Attributes

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a rally organized by supporters of the No vote at Syntagma sq
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivers a speech during a rally organized by supporters of the No vote at Syntagma square in Athens, Friday, July 3, 2015. A new opinion poll shows a dead heat in Greece's referendum campaign with just two days to go before Sunday's vote on whether Greeks should accept more austerity in return for bailout loans. (Yannis Behrakis/Pool via AP)

"Angela's Ashes," reads this week's cover of Der Spiegel, with an incredible sense of things to come, explaining in the rest of the title "How Merkel Failed Greece and Europe." As if to say, there was no need to be from the left, or anti-system, or whatever you prefer, to see that Europe was making the wrong moves in its negotiations with Greece. And if even the referendum, as all of Europe's elites have maintained up until this point, was forced and an irresponsible act, now that it's over at least we can say that it brought about a necessary, definitive clarification of the true mood of the Greek people, the consensus around Alexis Tsipras and, last but not least, on Europe itself. The crushing "no" vote has the ring of humiliation for everyone who wanted a clash in Europe, convinced they could rein in a riotous nation with a whip and a carrot. It is humiliation for Merkel first and foremost, who has displayed extraordinary myopia in this affair; an excess of muscle that contrasted completely with the usual subtleties, to the point that it seems, as Der Spiegel explains, to have strained her political patrimony. Defeated, along with her, stand all those many European functionaries posing as leaders, of whom Juncker is currently the perfect stereotype. They too were convinced that a growl from Brussels would be enough to put the Greek house back in order. Those European leaders who could have played, by tradition and conviction, a balancing role in this affair in order to keep things from reaching this juncture emerge defeated as well. I'm referring to France, who in these circumstances ceded its diplomatic strengths and winds up today being called into service in order to help the Chancellor. Italy could have, would have and should have acted as mediator, and tried to at the beginning of this affair. But Italy withdrew, and sooner or later Matteo Renzi will have to explain why. There's no doubt our country which, along with its new Premier, took the stage just a few months ago with the ambition of "changing Europe," today looks more like a spectator than protagonist. It should be added that the difficulty does not lie in trying to attribute everything to Hollande or Renzi: the entire socialist left emerges startled from this clash with Greece, which has moved the potential oscillations of those political parties even further to the left. It is a move that Martin Schulz seems to have been acutely aware of right from the start, as he took a position on Athens, and maintains it today, as the "guardian of European orthodoxy." Now dark clouds are gathering around Tsipras, the victor, despite the conciliatory statements he made immediately following the outcome. Almost the entire media establishment immediately assigned him the role of public enemy number one. Nothing new under the sun. In a certain sense, his demonization is preparation for a new round of talks, if any are ever held. But the man from Athens has one thing that none of Europe's politicians has displayed: real leadership. Leadership composed of certainties, consensus, audacity and, last but not least, "attributes." Tsipras is still in play. Finally, there is a non-protagonist that the results of this referendum may now spur to take the field: the United States. President Obama has yet to join the fray in this affair (as far as we know), instead advising Merkel to seek a path to an accord. When it comes to affairs inside the EU, Washington has always preferred to follow the rule of friendly, respectful distance. But the US can't afford to stand by and watch the beginning of a potentially negative spiral unfurl -- for all the obvious reasons, including the chance that the European crisis may open things up for Russia. Therefore it is possible that in the upcoming weeks, the US -- which, after all, is the majority shareholder in the Monetary Fund -- may begin to play a more active role in this affair. As everyone can see, in just a week's time, the profiles of almost every European protagonist have changed -- both in terms of positioning and in terms of public opinion, no matter what side people are on. This reorganization is a sign of what's changed: Today everyone is working under different circumstances. Where we go from here remains unclear for the moment, probably even for those who have to make the tough decisions. It won't be easy to return to talks, as Germany has already pointed out. It won't be easy to mend the tear from a political, and even human, point of view. By the same token, it won't be easy to find a bureaucratic mechanism that allows Greece to reenter the European Community. But it may well be even more difficult for each member state to stomach an intervention on the rules that Greece has set in motion. In the absence of a complete and total mending, and a reform of Europe itself, from this moment forward the temptation to follow Athen's lead will only increase.

This post originally appeared on HuffPost Italy and was translated into English.