24 January 2011

A rebuttal to a silly piece from the New York Times Week in Review

Clearly the United States has learned the lessons of ancient history, and is conducting its diplomacy accordingly, writes David Sanger. How Thucydides would approve of our handling the China problem!

What really unraveled the Athenian empire was not a direct war with Sparta. A refresher:

[Alcibiades'] suggestion was to renew the attempt made in 425 at intervention in Sicily; but this time he had in mind an expedition on the grand scale which should subdue first Syracuse and then the whole of Sicily and southern Italy, whose corn and timber supplies would reassure Athens, anxious as always about her revictualling problem, and no longer able since the loss of Amphipolis to exploit the forests of Mount Pangaeus. Alcibiades perhaps had even longer and larger views, envisaging finally the conquest of Carthage and access to Spain; a reservoir of men and wealth which would have enabled Athens to subdue, once and for all, the Peloponesian Confederation and to become mistress of the whole Mediterranean. (History of Ancient Greece, Jean Hatzfeld, chapter 21)

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