ATHENS -- Tsipras appeared triumphant to greet his voters last night. What kind of a triumph it is remains puzzling. A few meters away from the victorious prime minister in Syntagma Square, the heart of Greece, the ATMs stand dark and empty. "It's sad to admit that we see darker days than before, darker even than during the dictatorship," I heard an old woman saying while queuing to get money a few days ago. "Back then there was political discontent but no poverty. Now we have both."
So it's Berlin and Paris. Once again so close and yet so far. Once again European history will move along the red line that unites these two national capitals. There's nothing to be done for those who, like our Italian Premier, believed as recently as five days ago to have established a special relationship with the Chancellor of Europe.
The outcome of this Greek drama is not up to the Greeks anymore. It now depends on how European leaders will react. Whether they will view the referendum result as an opportunity for a big deal or a chance to rid themselves of the Greek issue, putting all the blame on the Greeks, remains to be seen.
This week, while the U.S. celebrates its independence, the world watches a modern Greek tragedy unfold as Greece votes on austere bailout terms imposed by the country's creditors. However the vote goes, one thing is clear: The austerity that came with the two previous bailouts has utterly broken the Greek economy. GDP has gone down nearly 30 percent. A quarter of the country is unemployed, including half of its young people. Pensions have been slashed. The health budget has been cut by 40 percent. Suicides are up 36 percent since 2008. The Troika has authored a new Greek myth -- that you can cut your way to growth. And now they're back, demanding more of what's already shattered the economy. The question is will they shatter the spirit of the Greek people? Just as we value our independence, so do the Greeks, who, after all, invented democracy. No matter the outcome of the vote, feeling some measure of control will help keep Greece's spirit alive.