A man stands in front of his stall selling the national flags of European Union members in Athens, February 28, 2015.
Alkis Konstantinidis / Courtesy Reuters

The leftist party Syriza won last month’s election in Greece by making a passionate case against austerity and in favor of a generous debt relief package. Its victory triggered a global media frenzy as commentators wrung their hands over whether the eurozone (particularly Germany) would bow to the Greek government’s demands and, if not, whether Greece would shed the euro and perhaps cause what would amount to a “Lehman moment” with global financial repercussions.

What happened next was quite remarkable. Initially, the Greek government adopted a defiant and unilateral stance, proclaiming null and void the bailout agreement that Greece has been toiling under. The government sent its flamboyant new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, allegedly armed with a new plan inspired by game theory, on a whirlwind European tour in search of allies.

In the end, however, Greece had very little to show for its efforts. After quickly abandoning

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  • STATHIS N. KALYVAS is Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at Yale University.
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