Friday, January 12, 2007

From the comment bag

  • General blogroll policy: If you link to me on your blogroll, let me know, I'm happy to reciprocate. So Dead Issue gets added, as soon as I can get to the template editor...

    If you've already linked to me and you're not on the roll, just drop a note in comments or email me.

  • From Sven, this link to a review of Victor Davis Hanson's screed about the Peloponnesian War made me laugh. Especially this bit:
    Some of the other mistakes are on a whole different scale. Take the title, A War Like No Other. If Hanson believes that the Peloponnesian War was really so unique, why does he spend his first chapters making far-fetched connections between that war and every other war in history? If he wanted his title to reflect what he actually argues, Hanson should have called this book A War Like Nearly Every Other, Especially Iraq.
What always gets me is the North American conception of the Peloponnesian War always sees America as Athens. Now, there are some definite similarities, but it's unclear to me why an American would see this as a good thing. What's the laudatory aspect of Athenian history? The way it turned a defensive alliance in to a vehicle for imperial power and enriching one city? The poorly thought out strategies of Pericles which brought Athens to war without a means to win? Maybe the most eerily prescient part of Thucydides is when Pericles tells the liberals in Athens -- who were arguing that Athens should take a softer line with the subject cities -- that while democracy was all well and good for Athens, the world had to be ruled as a tyranny. Athens, Pericles said, couldn't afford to let go of the empire once they had it, because the cities who'd once been Athens' subjects would turn around and destroy Athens.

I think every single conqueror in history has probably just repeated Pericles. But again, why would an American (other than crazy old Victor Hanson) ever see this as a good thing, something worth emulating?

6 comments:

Joseph Krengel said...

There is one very good reason to identify Athens with America... this is something that a professor of mine named Mark Neufeld described:

There are two types of power in International Relations; real power and contingent power. Real power is not only the capability to act, but the power to exert influence without acting. Contingent power is power that requires action to exert influence.

In the Athenian example we need not look further than the Delian league. At it's outset Athens could demand exorbitant sums of money from her client states (real power) without question. Yet, as the state declined her power to act in this way was curtailed, and eventually to hold the league together Athens was forced to raze the island of Thassos, which had refused payment.

deadissue said...

Much obliged! I look forward to reading your work.

Uncorrected Proofs said...

On your general blogroll policy, I link to you from my blogroll at Uncorrected Proofs. Thanks in advance for the link.

Declan said...

I've linked here for a while now. But I'm skeptical that you will update your blogroll. Have you followed your link to 'Sinister Thoughts' lately? :)

john said...

"Have you followed your link to 'Sinister Thoughts' lately?"

Umm.... blogroll emeritus.

So what's the deal with that... Is it truly, as I suspect, that Greg at "They call me Mr. Sinister" is the same Greg from "Sinister Thoughts"?

Declan said...

I assume it's the same Greg. It seems as though his old Sinister Thoughts address has been picked up by ... something, (some kind of ineffective spam-blog maybe?) One more reason not to shut down your old blogs entirely when you stop using them, I guess...

(Thanks for the link)