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Thucydides on Policy, Strategy, and War Termination

Thucydides on Policy, Strategy, and War Termination published on

Authored by Naval War College

For decades, Thucydides’s account of the Peloponnesian War has been a staple of professional military education at American war colleges, the Naval War College especially. And with good reason-he self-consciously supplies his readers a microcosm of all war. With extraordinary drama and scrupulous attention to detail he addresses the fundamental and recurring problems of strategy at all times and places. These include the origins of war, the clashing political objectives of belligerents, the strategies they choose to achieve them, and the likely character of their conflicts. As the war escalates, Thucydides expands his readers’ field of vision. He compels them to consider the unintended consequences of decisions of statesmen and commanders and the asymmetric struggle between Athenian sea and Spartan land power. He shows the ways in which each side reassessed and adapted to the other; the problems of coalition warfare; indirect strategies through proxy wars, insurgencies, and other forms of rebellion; the influence of domestic politics on strategy, and vice versa; and myriad other enduring strategic problems that those who wage war at any time ignore at their peril. As a student of war and politics, whatever his faults, he was a giant with few peers, if any at all. Yet Thucydides says relatively little about peace, peacemakers, and peacemaking. Not surprisingly, then, what he has to say on this subject often receives little attention at the war colleges, especially when there are so many other rich questions to explore in his account.

Publication Date:
Jan 03 2015
150591292X / 9781505912920
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / Political Freedom & Security / International Secur


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