“The Champion of Greek Outrage”

18 May

An objective, rhetoric-free NYT opinion piece from a writer with no previously professed political leanings, Greek-American Nicholas Gage:

“Throughout their history, Greeks in times of crisis have rushed to embrace charismatic demagogues like lemmings throwing themselves into the sea.

After the death of Pericles during the Peloponnesian War, Athenians allowed his seductive nephew, Alcibiades, then 35, to talk them into wasting most of their remaining military resources on a disastrous expedition in Sicily. Despite the terrible losses suffered in that debacle and even after he betrayed them to both the Spartans and the Persians, they took him back to their bosom twice.

After World War II, Nikos Zachariadis, the dynamic 43-year-old leader of the Greek Communist Party, eschewed the example of wiser Communist bosses like Palmiro Togliatti in Italy, who restrained his followers from armed rebellion even after an attempt on his life.

Mr. Zachariadis launched a brutal civil war in Greece that devastated the country as it was emerging from a harrowing Nazi occupation. Despite the futility of the conflict, enough Greeks followed Mr. Zachariadis to prolong the insurrection for four years. Not only did the conflict claim more than 50,000 lives and turn a tenth of the population into war refugees, but it also put Greece at least a decade behind Western Europe in beginning its post-war reconstruction.

The new pied piper of Hellas is Alexis Tsipras, 37, the leftist rabble rouser with keen political instincts and few scruples who led his radical left coalition, Syriza, to an astonishing second place finish in the May 6 election.”

See also post on Nicholas Gage .

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