Compose An Essay Discussing The Peloponnesian War And Its Significance In The Study Of Politics. Why War?

1071 words - 4 pages

Is war inevitable? It appears that the answer to this question is yes. However, war is unpredictable and must be studied based on individual circumstances, actions taken, and reactions. States disagree with each other on many subjects and conflicts arise often. To answer this question, we must first examine the causes of a conflict, evaluate the outcome and determine any alternatives that may exist. Then we can analyze some alternative theoretical outcomes compared to the actual conclusions. The Peloponnesian War provides an excellent example to be evaluated. The following gives a brief history of the war, causes of the war, and the importance of its study.In the case of the Peloponnesian War, we have two equal but different powers in control of Greece and the surrounding area. Athens and Sparta as allies gained independence from the Persians in 480 BC. Athens with a democratic rule expanded by using the surrounding waterways for trade and developing a great navy. Sparta with an oligarchic rule settled in by developing a thriving agriculture community and a land based army. Civil war occurs in Epidamnus with two sides, democratic and oligarchic. The democrats requested assistance from Athens. If Athens chooses to get involved, she breaks the truce with Sparta. If she does not, the balance of power leans towards Sparta and her allies. Sparta already feared Athens' growing power. Therefore, Sparta needed to check Athens' control of the region.The need to keep a balance of power is the main reason of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides attains that Sparta's fear of Athenian rule provided an unavoidable path to war. Athens controlled about half of the city-states; dominated much of the trade; and maintained a strong navy. Sparta kept a strong army and retained equal allies but was primarily an agriculture state. Athens' ability to maneuver on the sea provided opportunities to expand her power, and this alarmed Sparta. Since Sparta is concerned by Athens' growing power, Sparta waits for a way to be able to stop the expansion. When an opportunity comes for war against Athens, Sparta is not very reluctant and could even be considered eager to enter an altercation.Pericles leadership appeared sound but may have over reached the power of Athens. Pericles convinced the Athenians that allowing allied states to become free was a sign of weakness. In addition, he convinced them that Sparta was no match and could not win a long-term war against the great Athenian navy. He stressed the need for Athens to rely on the navy and utilize the walls around Athens while Sparta's army attacked. This method proved to be a weakness in reality. The residents of Athens and the countryside were too numerous for safe living conditions behind the walls of Athens. Furthermore, it appears that Pericles forgot that long time enemies could enter the picture and help the Spartans as the Persians did here. In the end, Athens' aggression only leads to her defeat.The Prisoners Dilemma...

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