Thucydides was Right: Defining the Future Threat
ARMY WAR COLLEGE CARLISLE BARRACKS PA STRATEGIC STUDIES INSTITUTE
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This monograph examines the challenge in future threat definition. In order to do so, it is necessary to understand where identification of threat originates, and how and why such identification is made in the context of international political relations. This analysis makes fairly heavy use of the ideas in Thucydides great History of the Peloponnesian War. Effort is expended here to explain why a work written in Greece, in the late-5th century B.C., has high value for us today as a vital aid to understanding of our own current, and indeed future, security context. The monograph offers conclusionsrecommendations in four broad clusters. First, prudence is recommended as the guiding light in the face of an irreducible ignorance about the future. Second, the monograph explains that there is considerable real political and cultural discretion about the particular identification and definition of threat. Third, the analysis flatly rejects the idea of historical analogy as a vital source of evidence on future threat instead, the concept of the historical parallel, the difference between the two ideas, is very large. Fourth, although the contemporary United States is indeed unique and exceptional as an actor on the world state, it is nonetheless simply a very large and powerful state that is obliged to behave according to the same rule book, and plan with a familiar playbook, as have other great powers of the past and present.
- Government and Political Science
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics