What Would Thucydides Say About the Crisis in Greece? By ROBERT ZARETSKY

History repeats itself. 2500 years ago Athens demanded a small island Melos to join its Delian League.It is worth reading account of history and its parallels to today’s Greece crisis, only this time Greece is the victim and not the aggressor.(f .sheikh)

“During their war against Sparta, the Athenians demanded that Melos join the Delian League. Originally a defensive alliance that Greek city-states had created following the second Persian invasion, the league had become a tool of Athenian imperialism. Member states, unable to secede, were subject to Athenian dictate and forced to pay annual tribute. Their complaints were met with Athens’s reply that the alliance, whether or not the members agreed, was for their own good. The democracy Athens practiced at home, in short, did not extend to the governance of its league.

What historians call the Melian Dialogue is Thucydides’s depiction of the endgame to this policy — what Victor Davis Hanson has called Athens’s “reign of terror.” The war between Athens and Sparta was already nearly two decades old, yet no end was in sight. With its citizens weary and restless, Athens adopted a brutal political calculus, declaring that those city-states not with them were, quite simply, against them. They threatened a neutral Melos with physical destruction if it refused to join the Delian League.

Of course, the parallel falls short in many ways. Melos was a neutral state, while modern Greece not only joined the European Union but over the years merrily plundered its treasury. And Melos did not invite an unprecedented sovereign debt crisis or engage in unsustainable social policies as Greece did over the last decade and more.

But what was at stake then and now is, first of all, the issue of national sovereignty versus supranational organizations. “Europe” was born, in part, of the fear of Stalin’s Russia, no less threatening and grim than Xerxes’ Persia. But, like the Delian League after the evaporation of the Persian threat, the original basis for unthinking allegiance to Europe disappeared with the Soviet Union’s disintegration. (The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s recent fruitless meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin echoes the Melian hope that Sparta would fly to their rescue.)