The melian dialogue argument

But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. The Athenians also demolished the walls of the Mitylenians, and took possession of their ships. They then proceeded to execute all the men they took captive and to enslave the women and children, and further, they repopulated it as an Athenian colony.

But he defines rationality as a process of calculating the costs and benefits of all alternative policies in order to determine their relative utility, i. His theory helps only to explain why states behave in similar ways despite their different forms of government and diverse political ideologies, and why, despite their growing interdependence, the overall picture of international relations is unlikely to change.

Siege of Melos

With Melos being the weak they should accept they do not have the power, and pay the tribute instead of letting their pride get the better of them. By suggesting that certain dictates of reason apply even in the state of nature, he affirms that more peaceful and cooperative international relations are possible.

In that speech Pericles acknowledges that what Athens had gained, and what their ancestors handed down to them, had been obtained and enlarged by war.

Political Realism in International Relations

They are pious, believing that gods will support their just cause and compensate for their weakness, and trust in alliances, thinking that their allies, the Spartans, who are also related to them, will help them 5. This intention of theirs gave the Argives The melian dialogue argument of certain of their fellow citizens, some of whom they arrested; others, however, escaped them.

This interwar idealism resulted in the founding of the League of Nations in and in the Kellogg-Briand Pact of outlawing war and providing for the peaceful settlements of disputes.

Because you would live! By subjecting themselves to a sovereign, individuals escape the war of all against all which Hobbes associates with the state of nature; however, this war continues to dominate relations among states. It cannot be proved by any empirical research, but only disclosed by philosophy, imposed on us as a matter of belief, and inculcated by education.

When you speak of the favour of the gods, we may as fairly hope for that as yourselves; neither our pretensions nor our conduct being in any way contrary to what men believe of the gods, or practise among themselves.

Against this fear is our chief safeguard, teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually on the statute book, or belong to that code which, although unwritten, yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.

Meanwhile the Melians attacked by night and took the part of the Athenian lines over against the market, and killed some of the men, and brought in corn and all else that they could find useful to them, and so returned and kept quiet, while the Athenians took measures to keep better guard in future.

Fears or plots being unknown to you in your daily relations with each other, you feel just the same with regard to your allies, and never reflect that the mistakes into which you may be led by listening to their appeals, or by giving way to your own compassion, are full of danger to yourselves, and bring you no thanks for your weakness from your allies; entirely forgetting that your empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators, whose obedience is ensured not by your suicidal concessions, but by the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty.

From a realist viewpoint, they acted exactly as they should have to further their political interests, while the Melians acted against their own interests by clinging to their ideals.

Although Carr and Morgenthau concentrate primarily on international relations, their realism can also be applied to domestic politics. To make further objections, the fact that the language of universal moral values can be misused in politics for the benefit of one party or another, and that such values can only be imperfectly implemented in political institutions, does not mean that such values do not exist.

However, if the Melians are not convinced by the argument, the Athenians stand ready to convince them through superior force of arms. And not contented with ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up with the defence of your country, though these would furnish a valuable text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts; and then, when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honour in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their country of their valour, but they laid it at her feet as the most glorious contribution that they could offer.

The historian Xenophon wrote that in BC, with the Spartan army closing in on Athens, the citizens of Athens worried that the Spartans would treat them with the same cruelty that the Athenian army had shown the Melians.

No; for your hostility cannot so much hurt us as your friendship will be an argument to our subjects of our weakness, and your enmity of our power.

Louisiana State University Press. Thus choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonour, but met danger face to face, and after one brief moment, while at the summit of their fortune, escaped, not from their fear, but from their glory.

Melian dialogue

On the other hand, in the world of pure realism, in which all values are made relative to interests, life turns into nothing more than a power game and is unbearable. Hope also and cupidity, the one leading and the other following, the one conceiving the attempt, the other suggesting the facility of succeeding, cause the widest ruin, and, although invisible agents, are far stronger than the dangers that are seen.

Waltz, who reformulated realism in international relations in a new and distinctive way. If you have met to reason about presentiments of the future, or for anything else than to consult for the safety of your state upon the facts that you see before you, we will give over; otherwise we will go on.

This concept defines the autonomy of politics, and allows for the analysis of foreign policy regardless of the different motives, preferences, and intellectual and moral qualities of individual politicians.Realism is expressed in the very first speech of the Athenians recorded in the History—a speech given at the debate that took place in Sparta just before the war.

Moreover, a realist perspective is implied in the way Thucydides explains the cause of the Peloponnesian War, and also in the famous “Melian Dialogue,” in the statements made.

Melian dialogue Essay | Essay

One such strand is the question of whether "might makes right," which is the central argument of the Melian Dialogue. The Athenians argue that it does and that, therefore, it is both natural and just that Melos should surrender to Athens.

How does the Melian dialogue of Thucydides reflect

Athens warned Melos and created a strong argument which makes Athens justified in what they did to the island of Melos. In the Melian Dialogue, Athens makes a strong argument around the idea of physis.

“This is not an idea that we made ourselves, nor are we the first to act upon it when it was made. The Melian dialogue is a dramatic set-piece debate inserted by Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War, his account of the ruinous year long struggle (– BC) between the powerful Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta.

It is one of the two most famous instances of. Once the terms of the debate and the subject of the debate have been settled upon, after earlier agreement on what the form of the debate is going to be, we come to the Melian dialogue. Melian Arguments: Athenian Responses: Let us be neutral; you may alienate other states if you attack us with no good reason.

We don't care about mainland states and our allies will be more likely to rebel if we allow a small island to be free. The Spartans may help us either directly or by invading Attica.

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The melian dialogue argument
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