first_img Gavel GamutBy Jim Redwinewww.jamesmredwine.com(Week of 16 January 2017)WITH CHARITY FOR SOME, WITH MALICE FOR OTHERSJames Mattis is President-Elect Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense. According to former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Mattis is a student of history who understands the dangers of Thucydides’ Trap. Thucydides (471 – 400 B.C.) was an Athenian historian who lived through the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 B.C.), which exhausted both the loser, Athens, and the eventual winner, Sparta. This thirty years of internecine carnage sowed the seeds of Greece’s vulnerability to Roman conquest.Thucydides observed it was the rise of the upstart Athenians and the fear and resentment of that rise in the more powerful Spartans that led to war. Archidamus, the Spartan king, had cautioned his citizens to not be hurried into conflict out of any sense of offended honor or an attitude of superiority. However, hotter heads prevailed.The United States is unquestionably the strongest nation on Earth militarily and economically. We may have the power to dictate terms to most other countries. We are the Sparta of our time.On the other hand, we may wish to learn from history, not repeat it. If Russia attempted to influence our elections, we should address this serious issue with all due diligence. Due diligence is not a euphemism for dueling.If China builds artificial islands in international waters and declares them China, we need not make a bellicose response. Maybe negotiation from strength might be better.If the United Nations Security Council passes a unanimous resolution that calls for Israel to follow international law, due diligence does not require that Congress withhold funds from the United Nations unless Israel gets a retraction.Now that Secretary Clinton and President-Elect Trump have ended their election cycle neither they nor their supporters should precipitate a Pyrrhic Victory for our country by continuing to attempt to delegitimize their opponents or their opponents’ positions by the technique of circular firing squads.Perhaps it is time to once more look to the wisdom of some of those marvelous ancient Greeks and even our own President Lincoln and not let a misguided sense of offended honor or an overestimation of our own righteousness lead us to another long series of self-destructive attitudes and actions.{This article relied heavily on an article dated May 6, 2015 by Leon Whyte that drew upon the scholarship of Harvard Professor Graham Allison and appeared in The Diplomat.}For more Gavel Gamut articles go to:www.jamesmredwine.comFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more