Letter: History repeats?by D. CondonNews Weekly
, December 15, 2001
In discussing a classic clash between Democracy and Militarism - the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) - Bill James concludes that Sparta was the immediate winner but Athens triumphed in the long run (NW
, October 20).
In fact, Athens never again became a dominant power in Greece, though she stayed culturally pre-eminent.
To a large extent she had brought the defeat on herself. Her democracy became imperialistic, and Athens sent large forces in an unprovoked attempt to conquer Sicily and then use Sicily’s resources to finish off Sparta. But she was totally beaten - fleet, army, everything - and few out of many returned home.
These losses made Athens’ defeat inevitable. In Cold War days people saw an analogy between Athens/USA and Sparta/USSR, with the thought that the single-minded militarism of the latter might prevail.
In fact, the USSR collapsed under burden of its military expenditure, but Russia remains and China is also on the scene, so the contest goes on, as does the question "Does History repeat itself?".D. Condon,