Thucydides reports the following statements:
“You will find that an act of kindness done at the right moment has a power to dispel old grievances quite out of proportion to the act itself.” (Corinthian speaker, Book I Paragraph 42)
“You should remember that, whether you feel apprehensive or not, you will certainly have become stronger, and that this fact will make your enemies think twice before attacking you; whereas if you reject us, however confident you may feel, you will in fact be the weaker for it, and consequently less likely to be treated with respect by a strong enemy.” (Corcyran speaker, Book I Paragraph 36)
“You alone do nothing in the early stages to prevent an enemy’s expansion; you wait until an enemy has doubled his strength…Instead of going out to meet them, you prefer to stand still and wait till you are attacked, thus hazarding everything by fighting with opponents who have grown far stronger than they were originally.” (Corinthian speaker, Book I, Paragraph 69)
Assignment: Your responsibility is to prevent a rival state from attacking or coercing your society but without yielding interests that you deem vital. Consider the value of these pieces of advice in light of the origins of the Peloponnesian War, World War I and World War II. What policy or action is each speaker recommending? What are the advantages and disadvantages, the costs, risks and benefits, of each? When (i.e., under what circumstances) would you advise following the guidelines implicit in the first statement, the second or the third? Why?
In executing this assignment, address the question above, but also provide support and illustration of your views by making extensive use of the readings and considering the history as thoroughly as time and space permit. In other words, I want you to demonstrate a grasp of the readings and history in addition to developing your ideas.
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