Humiliated Greece eyes Byzantine pivot as crisis deepens
In any normal contest with creditors, Syriza's position would be hopeless. But nothing about this episode is normal. If EMU were to force Greece out of the euro by withdrawing bank liquidity and deliberately causing the collapse of the Greek financial system - to which the ECB has a duty of care under EU treaty law - they would create a martyr state for the whole European Left.
They would violate the sanctity of monetary union and risk reducing it to a fixed exchange "ERM3", inviting an attack on the weakest link to follow. The EU's extraordinary experiment in solidarity would lie in ruins.
The Western security system would the face turmoil in the Balkans. It would have to deal with an embittered state - hostile to Nato, and willing to play the Russian card - along an arc of instability stretching from Ukraine, though the Levant, to North Africa. That is why US President Barack Obama has intervened, pleading with Chancellor Merkel to avert the worst. The stakes are too high for finance ministers.
It is far from clear who really has the upper hand in this game of strategic chicken. Both sides can reasonably calculate that the other will blink first at each deadline to come. One of them is wrong. That is what makes this drama so riveting, and so dangerous.