The Melian Dialogue

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Do you agree with the analysis in the Melian Dialogue about the relationship between strong and weak states, and between power and morality David Greer Thucydides can be seen as the first great Historian, and his "history of the Peloponnesian war"� is said to be the catalyst of the realist tradition. A question often asked, is whether Thucydides is a realist or not? He is merely recording a realist opinion? To answer the question, lets look at what Thucydides himself says.

"And as for the real action of the war, I did not think it was right to set down either What I heard from people I happened to meet, Or what I merely believed to be true."� Thucydides is trying to emphasise the point, that from the onset his facts were right, and unbiased. By being an objective observer, Thucydides can "probe beneath the surface reasons for war to reveal those hidden forces(power, fear, and self interest) that are really responsible for events."�

This is the basis for power politics. I will go through the text, and find example that illustrate and identify these concepts, and in doing so, I will uncover other concepts such as: "�balance of power, alliances, honour, neutrality and perception. Thucydides wants to draw our attention to the political and moral issues raised in such a situation.

Throughout the Melian Dialogue, the Athenians accentuate the need for "˜Empire' and "˜Power.' The first thing we notice the Melians doing is refusing the Athenians permission to speak to the masses. Morgenthau would agree with the melians on this points, when he speaks of the "incompatibly between the rational requirements of a sound foreign policy, and the emotional preferences of a democratically controlled public opinion"� The Athenians knew of these "˜emotional preferences.' They knew that by talking...