What Are the Implications of Thucydides' and/or Machiavelli's Writings for Us Hegemony Today?

1965 words 8 pages
What are the implications of Thucydides' and/or Machiavelli's writings for US hegemony today?

Thucydides and Machiavelli's analysis of power can be applied to contemporary US foreign policy regarding the exercise of power and a diminished respect for law or ethics. Both philosophers play an important role in the Realist theory where they are generally taken to prove the mutually exclusive nature of ethics and politics as well as the inevitability of war. Firstly this essay will discuss arguments for the existence of US hegemony today and how Thucydides and Machiavelli's writings support this. Following this, the possibility of the diminished existence of US hegemony will be argued, again using the argument's of the two ancient
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The nation's leader's have made efforts to highlight the threat of terrorism but this seems weak as it can be argued that America is a main target for such acts and its allies are at much less risk. Whereas Athens imposed tighter controls on neutral and allied states, this method would be unacceptable for the US to employ as it would not be 'palatable to the American people' (Lebow, pg605, 2001). 'In the Prince and The Discourses Machiavelli emphasises that the actions of leaders have to be suited to the times. When fortune changes you must be capable of adapting your actions to accommodate it' (Boucher, pg133, 1998). This goes against realist beliefs and can apply to the prospective future of America's role in the world which is likely to be less influential or otherwise involve applying a more thorough system of rewards and coercion which is unlikely to be acceptable to world opinion despite hurting government foreign policy prowess.

In general, it is almost safe to say that Europe feels very differently to the US on the topic of America's world status. The very fact that France wanted the EU to develop an independent foreign and defence policy shows that there are calls for a non-unipolar and non-culturally uniform sphere of international relations in which there is no unilateralism of a single hyperpower, making it hard for any potential hegemon to exist.