JGreekFlagSinkingust days after a European ”œdeal” on Greek debt, the signatories are already squabbling about what it means. Germany says the new Greek administration must stick with its austerity program; the Syriza ministry says it can abandon it and, indeed, is already reversing important privatization initiatives.

It calls to mind a wise precept from Henry Kissinger in White House Years: ”œA negotiation can succeed only if the minimum terms of each side can be made to coincide.” It applies here, and far more widely including to more ominous developments like the crisis in Ukraine.

Negotiations can be used to reconcile differences or to paper over them. The latter approach generally only buys time for bad things to happen.