Are Thucydides and His History of the Peloponnesian War Still Relevant for the Analysis of Contemporary International Relations? Why

2098 Words Aug 5th, 2015 9 Pages
The Peloponnesian War was a conflict between the Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta, from 431 BC that brought an end to the Hellenic age of Pericles and his empire by the succession of Sparta by the end of the war. Thucydides is seen as a ‘proto-realist’, one of the first realists in the study of politics that wrote in a more theoretical sense, as well as the founding father of International Relations. His study on the History of the Peloponnesian War provides awareness of the conflict and various analyses on the causes of the war by observing the strategic interaction between the states, hierarchy amongst the states along with legitimacy and levels of power to determine the pattern of their relations. Although there are undeniably …show more content…
Changes in power are comparable to power transition theories which focuses on state power growth altering relative power between states causing high potential for conflict once the competitor reaches corresponding levels of authority alongside the dominant state. Whilst changes within the political order of more feeble states does not affect the hierarchical system, a disruption amongst the greater states would ultimately disturb the stability of the allocated system. To exemplify such change Thucydides claimed, “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.” RRR3 (paper 1:3) The disproportionate and imbalanced growth of Athens along with the emergence of the Megarian Decree was the two causing elements of the Peloponnesian War; The Megarian Decree being the Athenian Empire’s use of economic sanctions imposed on Megara. These deviations instigated an unstable system in which the likelihood of small events acting as a catalyst for a major conflict was exceptionally high. RRR4 (paper 1:5) Both in Thucydides work and contemporary relations, such changes within political international relations and authorities between states influence the prevalence of fear amongst citizens and state security. The contemporary understanding of the Peloponnesian War interprets the realist approach in terms of the ‘Security Dilemma’. The security dilemma is referred to by modern realists as a situation

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