Intellectual Roots of IR Theory

Intellectual Roots of IR Theory - Intellectual Precursors...

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Intellectual Precursors and Influences Thucydides Thucydides (471-400 b.c) is usually credited with being the first writer in the realist tradition as well as the founding father of the international relations discipline. Reading one might initially, because this famous work chronicles twenty-one of the twenty-eight years of war between Athens and Sparta (and their respective allies) in the fifth century b.c. Taken simply as history, it is a masterful account of this era, filled with tales of heroism and brutality, victory and defeat, brilliance and stupidity, honor and deceit are certainly exhibited not only in one particular war but in all wars throughout the ages. Particular events were dealt with in great and vivid detail, but his goal was to say something significant not only about the events of his own time but also about the nature of war and why it continually recurs. The past was the guide for the future. The Peloponnesian War is a study of the struggle for military and political power. Younger than Socrates and Sophocles. In 424 b.c., during the eighth year of the Peloponnesian War, he was elected an Athenian general. While stationed in Thrace, he failed to prevent the Spartan capture of a city and was punished with twenty years of exile. Athens might have lost a general, but the world gained a historian. He spent the rest of the war observing events, traveling, and interviewing participants, gave precedence to understanding the motives and policies of the leaders on all sides of the conflict and used the technique of liberally reconstructing speeches and episodes. His purpose was to draw historical lessons for the future statesmen who might read his work. [Where their interests clashed i.e., what made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta] The real or underlying cause of the war was fear associated with a shift in the balance of power. One could quite easily substitute for Athens and Sparta other historical examples such as France and Britain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Germany and Britain after, Soviet Union and United States. Cause of fear he identifies is not so much man’s innate or basic nature as it is the nature of interstate politics. Machiavelli
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This note was uploaded on 10/11/2011 for the course COMM 1451 taught by Professor Macky during the Fall '10 term at ESDES Commerce et Management.

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Intellectual Roots of IR Theory - Intellectual Precursors...

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