International Relation Origins of Classical tradition- Thucydides- Peloponnesian war

International relations theory is both very young and very old discipline. It is a very young because the first chair of international relations theory was established nearly 100 years ago after the first world war. Why it is very old? Because the very origins of classical realist tradition we find in the work of the Thucydides, the ancient Greek historian, philosopher and general, author of a History of Peloponnesian War. Thucydides himself was fighting on the side of the Athens in this war. He was the Athenian general. But later, he retired and he had a chance to conceptualize, to think about the reasons of this war, about why this ancient Greek states started this war between them, which finally destroyed their greatness.
And he managed to make the first conclusions, the first general observations about the reasons and causality in their international relations and regarding the most important problems such as problem of the actress,
who is the main actor, that's a problem of
the reasons for war and reasons for peace and many others. Unlike Herodotus and another great ancient Greek and many other historians of that time, Thucydides aimed to study fundamental laws of history and politics rather than just describe the past as the others did. So when we look at his work, the History of Peloponnesian War, we will find that it consists of the two major sections. The first content of this work, he is describing the sequence of the events of the Peloponnesian war. And the other, are his own editorials, are his explanations of why the things happen in a certain way and don't happen in another way. So, his essential task and the most important purpose of his work, first of all was to understand origins of war.Thucydides said, history is philosophy teaching by examples. And this quotation we can still use as one of the main characteristic of our discipline. We never say that theory of international relations is disconnected with the practice. Theory of international relations is one of the most connected to the practice disciplines as it has started by Thucydides. But first of all, let us say several words about the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides was not young when Peloponnesian war started. We all know from history that for many years, the ancient Greek democracies have been fighting for their liberty against their invasions from Persia. We all, many of us seen the movies about the 300 Spartans and the continuation movies. We all know how difficult and how cruel this war. But finally, Greeks won the war, and two major powers emerge in the ancient Greece.One power was their naval union led by the Athens. And the other one was a land-based union led by Sparta. And so, Peloponnesian war occurred between two major powers of the ancient Greece, Athens and Sparta, both leading broad coalitions of city states. By that time ancient Greece didn't know these states in our modern contemporary understanding. That time it was divided to the small, the time was very very tiny. City states based either on the islands or on the continent. So the international system of Peloponnesian peninsula and ancient Greece before the war and during the war, represented a model of bipolar order, and Thucydides was the first to describe the patterns, driven, such international structure and reasons why the two major parts of this bipolar order finally ended into the cruel war between them. Peloponnesian war was a very very big conflict. Many people has been fighting many people died, and the outcome of the conflict reshaped the ancient Greek war entirely. Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war, whereas beginning, lost its power, while Sparta became the leading power of Greece. Therefore, a bipolar system was transformed into the unipolar one. But we should not also forget that soon after the end of the Peloponnesian war,
the Macedonian invaders came from the north and they have taken over both the Sparta and Athens. So, the final consequence of this war was the weakening of both fighting parties and taking them over by the third party. Well, we can find many other examples in the human history when the stupidity of the war leads us to these sorts of consequences. So, the Peloponnesian war, as we can see on the map, was the most grand scale and devastating conflict between Greek city-states of that time, emphasized necessity of understanding the nature of war and peace. Main purpose of the work of Thucydides was to explain the war. And he explained in the perfect way which seems very well known and used. And his explanation is used by their theories and called, Thucydides trap.
We can vote for Thucydides.
He wrote, the real cause I consider to be one which was formerly most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta made war inevitable.According to Thucydides, beginning of the war was driven by fear associated with a shift in the balance of power. Sparta was afraid of losing its pre-eminent role in the Hellenic world. Thus, took counter measures to build up its military strength. We can see that Thucydides trap can be applied to the many situations in the history of international relations. And he points out that the main reason for war is fear because we never know the intentions of our partners, he wrotes.
We always assume that our partner is getting stronger not because of any other reason but because he is going to attack us, and we always fear. And fear, according to Thucydides, is a main driving force which brings nations to the war. Thucydides emphasizes the limited room for maneuver available to the statesmen. When leaders perceive the balance of power is shifting to their disfavor, they have to control it, and they have no other options. They cannot respond to this shift in the balance of power by decreasing their strength. They can only respond by increasing their strength. But when they do it, the other countries perceived that these measures are of offensive nature. And they also start to increase their strength and that drives nations to the conflict. Therefore, concludes Thucydides, international politics, politics between the states, is driven not by individuals but by laws of history. And this is a very important observation because many times you can see in the newspapers that a certain conflict seldom were emerges because somebody is guilty, because somebody is pushing a policy which is bad but not always like this more, never like this. International policy is driven not by individuals but by laws of history and on many examples in the future, in the many many other works of which belongs to the classical and realist tradition of international relations theory, we will see the examples and the useful explanations of this Fear, concludes Thucydides, makes states suspect others of betrayal and power themselves for self-defense. Whenever power ourselves for offence, we always think about self-defense but consequently it brings us to the conflict. That is the driving pattern of international politics which also explains emergence of an alliance-based bipolar system before the war.

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