The Foundation Of Power And Justice In

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The Foundation Of Power And Justice In International Law Essay, Research Paper Thucydides wrote The History of the Peloponnesian War believing that it was a good picture of “the past and which (human nature being what it is) will, at some time or other and in much the same way, be repeated in the future.” This paper will present a comparison between the time of Thucydides and how the International system has reflected certain aspects that are contained in the document. It will attempt to address the possibilities of oncoming systemic war, concepts of trust, and the earlier statement of Thucydides. Terms that are important to this argument are anarchy, security dilemma, and balance of powers. Anarchy is the system that world politics works under: with the presence of no

prominent authority, any state can do what it chooses on the international stage. The notion of security dilemma rises out of the fear of other states building up their forces and becoming a larger threat to all of the other states. The tie between anarchy, security dilemma, and life in a sovereign state is the balance of powers; which “aims at primarily to preserve peace and the status quo.” Thucydides’ balance of power involved two states: Athens and Sparta. After the Persian war, Athens had become a very powerful military state, and began to assimilate other states they had recently saved in the Persian War. Athens justified their actions by suggesting that, having won the war, their rights to become an empire were prevelent. They then built walls around their new

territories and continued to increase their military power. This worried the Spartans because if Athens were to attack them it would be difficult to counter attack. Sparta, however, did not respond by building up their forces to maintain the balance. The Spartans acted slowly and tried to avoid the conflict. However, when the smaller states went to Sparta and pleaded for aid, the Spartans agreed, to defend against hostile Athenian actions. Sparta and its smaller allies soon engaged the Athenians and were eventually victorious over the Athenian threat of hegemony. The underling cause of Spartan engagement originated in the pleas of the fleeing allied city-states. They claimed that since Sparta was the only other major power that it was Sparta’s duty to protect the smaller

states. These states also created the fear in the Spartans that Athenians would develop enough power to create a hegemony, and that they all would lose their sovereignty. They stated that an Athenian attack was inevitable. The Spartans began to position troops to defend themselves, as it was better military strategy to stop Athenian forces before they gained any more power. This was considered an aggressive act by the Athenians and sparked the beginnings of the Athenian-Spartan conflict. In comparison, Europe of the 19th century involved five major powers England, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia. These five powers through communication and shared interest created a system in which they managed to maintain stable international relations. The larger powers were responsible for

maintaining the independence of the smaller states’ sovereignty. This system, though there were many small wars over territory and maintaining the balance, managed to avoid any systemic wars for ninety years after the Napoleonic war. In this alliance, England had taken on the role of a balancer and joined any side necessary to maintain the balance. The European system ran on many concepts that allowed for its stability. Their system was designed to ensure that all independent states would survive, preserve the system, and that none would control the others. The nature of their trust allowed each state to maintain a balance of power where none had to worry about the rise of hegemony. War was inevitable on a small scale to maintain the balance and status quo; however, due to the