Writing Draft 1
It is odd to me to write, particularly when no one will read these things in all likelihood. Perhaps this space can serve some useful purpose, in the sense of being something of a release valve. I’m too old to start blogging; perhaps I should have started 15 years ago?
I read this short piece yesterday, and it seems very confused to me. When people that play some sort of role in politics discuss things like the Melian dialogue, it always appears to me that it is meant to serve as some sort of blueprint. But Thucydides wasn’t present for the events which are described in this portion of his history. In all probability, he was reconstructing what must have happened in his estimation, and perhaps it a correct estimate.
It worthwhile to recall that the ultimatum was issued by the Athenians. And they ultimately lost the Peloponnesian War (mostly due to folly which depended on their estimate of their superiority, which is explicit in the dialogue), so it is hard for me to understand this as a piece of moral/political reasoning which can be taken seriously as a blueprint for dealing with a recalcitrant person/state. For some reason, serious people seem to regard the dialogue as having content greater than: “Do what we say or we’ll destroy you.” Perhaps one could learn that treating people only as a means to your greater decadence leads to your alienation from them, and then disaster.
In any event: it is for me impossible to imagine that anyone working for Trump, or really for any White House, really learning much of anything, either from Thucydides or from anywhere else. DC isn’t really a place where people who carefully weigh the consequences of their actions wind up, and certainly the foreign affairs set is the worst of a bad bunch. But maybe a better title for the piece might have been: “Some Frauds Pay Some Other Fraud to Engage in Some Pseudo-Intellectual Activity.”