Is war inevitable? It appears that the answer to this question is yes. However, war is unpredictable and must be studied based on individual circumstances, actions taken, and reactions. States disagree with each other on many subjects and conflicts arise often. To answer this question, we must first examine the causes of a conflict, evaluate the outcome and determine any alternatives that may exist. Then we can analyze some alternative theoretical outcomes compared to the actual conclusions. The Peloponnesian War provides an excellent example to be evaluated. The following gives a brief history of the war, causes of the war, and the importance of its study.
In the case of the Peloponnesian War, we have two equal but different powers in control of Greece and the surrounding area. Athens and Sparta as allies gained independence from the Persians in 480 BC. Athens with a democratic rule expanded by using the surrounding waterways for trade and developing a great navy.
Sparta with an oligarchic rule settled in by developing a thriving agriculture community and a land based army. Civil war occurs in Epidamnus with two sides, democratic and oligarchic. The democrats requested assistance from Athens. If Athens chooses to get involved, she breaks the truce with Sparta. If she does not, the balance of power leans towards Sparta and her allies. Sparta already feared Athens' growing power. Therefore, Sparta needed to check Athens' control of the region.
The need to keep a balance of power is the main reason of the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides attains that Sparta's fear of Athenian rule provided an unavoidable path to war. Athens controlled about half of the city-states; dominated much of the trade; and maintained a strong navy. Sparta kept a strong army and retained equal allies but was primarily an agriculture state.