Policy Watch: Thucydides and America




Katz, Mark N.

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UPI.com (United Press International, Inc.)


"The History of the Peloponnesian War," by the Greek historian Thucydides, remains one of the classics of international relations even though it was written some 2,500 years ago. The Peloponnesian War, between the Greek city states, was mainly one between a democracy, Athens, and a dictatorship, Sparta -- a type of conflict the world has seen much of since the beginning of the 20th century. What is particularly sobering about the book is that Athens, the democracy, lost out in the end. In recent times, of course, the major democracies have won their wars with the major dictatorships. World War I, World War II, and the Cold War are the best examples of this. Yet Thucydides' book is still highly important to understand, since what he showed us is how a democracy, with all its advantages, can lose a war through making a series of poor decisions. And, as at other times in modern history, there appear to be eerie parallels between what Thucydides described so long ago and today.


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International affairs, Peloponnesian War, Greece, 431-404 B.C., Thucydides, War on terror, 2001-2009