To discuss the career of Alcibiades and its influence on the Athenian politics, it should first be mentioned that the institutionalization of the diplomatic relations in Greece began only in the Hellenistic era. In this regard, Sparta of the classical era was more advanced. In the rest of the policies, diplomacy was at the time largely based on the relations of aristocratic figures. Hence, such relations were required of the anyone who was involved in the diplomatic activities.
Taking this into consideration, it can be stated that the career of Alcibiades is a notable example of this tendency. His background provided him with numerous opportunities to establish personal connections, as his family belonged to the most influential aristocratic families at the time. In addition, it was connected to Sparta through the institution of proxeny. Foreign relations of Alcibiades’ family were also numerous and extensive; he maintained personal connections with several Peloponnesian cities. Because of these relations, Alcibiades had supporters in Miletus, an Ionian city of great significance. It is known that through the course of Alcibiades’ political activity, Athens and Sparta were involved in the Peloponnesian War (Thucydides, line 93). However, this fact did not prevent Alcibiades from maintaining similar xenic connections with the aristocrats of Sparta. Because of that, he was accused of his decisions on many occasions (Thucydides, line 28). For example, determined to establish strong relations with influential military officers, he offered to change the Athenian constitution.
During his political activity, Alcibiades had managed to establish alliances with almost all Greek policies, as well as neighbouring states. These connections did not necessarily serve Athenians at all times as much as they served Alcibiades’ own interests (Thucydides, line 92). Regardless of what his position was and which side he represented, these relations were strong. For example, his reliance on them allowed Alcibiades to achieve the separation of some important Ionian policies from the Athenian Arche.
Thucydides. (1972). History of the Peloponnesian War. Penguin Books.
Advocacy Regarding Environmental Pollution In Brooklyn
This letter is intended to introduce the issue that arose in Brooklyn, United States and address several points to seek your contribution. I wish to draw your attention to the severe problem of environmental pollution because of multiplying businesses in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the powers of local citizenship are not enough to withstand this issue, as people are not sure of the durability and efficiency of measures they wish to take. Therefore, it is necessary to address the problem directly to you to manage the issue diplomatically and effectively.
Brooklyn is a flourishing place with excellent infrastructure and conditions for small and huge businesses. The location is happy to meet new businesspeople and offers perfect terms for developing their activities. In addition, the place is famous for its exceptional conditions for tourists; people come to visit the city, go sightseeing, entertain themselves in the most popular sites of Brooklyn. Indeed, there is a significant problem happening in Brooklyn, the issue is collapsing citizens, and jointly we are confused about the future of our environmental safety. The problem is that due to the wide range of newly appeared and old businesses, there are much more utilized resources than we expected. Factories and other production facilities make the air of Brooklyn unbearably dirty, and it becomes impossible to breathe. According to recent statistics, air pollution, noise, and dirt levels are higher than average within Brooklyn (Numbeo, 2022). Moreover, the waters of the neighborhood are polluted with production waste. The problem of environmental pollution is acute in many areas of the United States; indeed, it requires an urgent and precise solution.
Our people suffer from day-and-night noise from manufacturing, as these organizations have to work at night. Furthermore, many of these factories are located near dormitory areas, where citizens have to witness pollution of their domestic territories and the nearby regions. The dust and smoke fulfil the air rapidly, and it becomes impossible for people to comply with their ordinary activities. People of Brooklyn care about their relatives, friends, and children, and it is impossible to leave the problem without a solution. Citizens are afraid to drink water from their taps, as it can seriously affect their health. In addition, washing fresh vegetables and fruits might become dangerous for people, as the water is influenced by dirt and environmental pollution.
Mothers do not allow their children to go playing in the nearby areas; they are afraid of the negative consequences of dust breathing. People started to spend more money on specialized vacuum cleaners and air purifiers to get rid of the air pollution. Most citizens cannot visit the countryside and leave the country, involving pregnant women, working people, and little children. Therefore, they have to spend time in Brooklyn, suffering from dirt and dust. Furthermore, the high level of light pollution and the problem with night lights disturb citizens’ sleeping, as it becomes unbearable to spend quiet nights.
Accordingly, people write multiple complaints to the government of the United States; many of these letters are addressed to the President. However, I understand that the struggle needs to be solved by a reliable city council member, and it is why you received this letter. As a constituent, I am glad to appeal to you, as I am familiar with your biography and the chronology of efficient action towards citizenship. It is known you are a candidate for the position of a city council member in Brooklyn, New York. Moreover, according to some sources, you have provided policy initiatives for Brooklyn Food Coalition and focused on land use and city planning reform (Glesby, 2021). Therefore, I am happy to address this issue in managing city land to you, and we will hope for your contribution.
I appeal to ask for the city reformation, as you are a profound expert in land usage in city conditions. Some of the actions suggested jointly with the citizens are the following: creating affordable requirements for local citizenship. Reviewing and reshaping factories’ locations in dormitory areas will allow people to live peacefully and calmly in their native houses. Moreover, it might be a good idea to run a campaign on purifying the environment in the districts of Brooklyn. For instance, some people strive to fix the situation with their forces, creating the volunteer group on cleaning the area. Indeed, people may lack an efficient leader who will have the capacity to address joint power effectively. Furthermore, citizens are not satisfied with the unequal authority of business and local citizenship, and with your help, it might be soothed to defend human rights adequately.
In conclusion, I would love to thank you for your time spent reading this letter. I am looking forward to your reply, and hope that we will create a strong union working on this issue. Citizens of Brooklyn expect your effective contribution, and I strive to discuss the plans for moving towards the goal with you. We are grateful to address the question for resolving to you and seek the soonest interaction.
Glesby, L. (2021). Crowded field competes to represent Brooklyn waterfront in City Council. Gotham Gazette. Web.
Numbeo. (2022). Pollution in Brooklyn. Web.
Thucydides’ Philosophy And Its Application To The US As The War Against Japan Unfolded
Thucydides Highlighted the Erosion of Both Ethical Standards and Strategic Rationality in a Democratic System Engaged in a Protracted War against a Hated Adversary. Does That Classical Insight Apply to the United States as the War against Japan Unfolded from 1941-1945?
There is hardly any ancient Greek intellectual respected by international relations scholars more than Thucydides. His extensive work, The Peloponnesian War, provided an accurate, realistic account of the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire, with the latest period of the war characterized by dark, bloody events (Thucydides, 2018). What used to be a liberal, democratic empire turned into a blood-thirty and immoral murder machine during the Sicily invasion. Thus, one of the topics that Thucydides, the father of 20th-century Realist thought in international relations, explored in depth is the dominance of reason over passion. He also examined the extent to which a superpower could stretch its morale for the sake of victory.
In one of his book’s passages, Thucydides notes that both ethics and rationality of the democratic system get eroded during a protracted war, with rising stakes and exacerbating conflict between the parties. In his opinion, even a democracy can cross the boundaries of ethics and morality to win a devastating war, which ultimately undermines its democratic integrity and can lead to its demise (Thucydides, 2018). Many scholars link Thucydides’ analysis of the Athenian Empire and the decline of its democracy with the 20th-century democratic systems, and this paper also approaches the U.S. political system from this position. The USA is a well-known global democratic leader state that has nevertheless been involved in many violent conflicts throughout the past century, acting as an aggressor in many of them. The official U.S. agenda has often promoted war for the sake of peace and democracy. Still, an enormous civilian death toll and damage to the affected states’ infrastructure put that justification into question. Here, the U.S. activities toward Japan during the World War II are discussed from the perspective of eroded democratic principles and dehumanization of the Japanese adversaries.
Features of a Democratic State at Peace and War
The analogy between the 20th-century USA and the image of Athens described by Thucydides is evident if one compares the democratic principles and socio-political context of their existence. For instance, Athens of the 5th century BC was not a coercive, tyrannic organization molding the conquered Persian, Roman, and other empires into a single unit. According to Carugati (2019), Athens gave numerous benefits to its subordinate states, such as neutralizing the pirates in the Aegean Sea, the proliferation of trade in the region with standardization of weights and coinage, etc. Besides, the Athenian democracy was thriving in the 5th century BC, with a realm of participatory institutions and accountability mechanisms ensuring legal justice and equality (Carugati, 2019). This political organization made Athens a thriving democracy of its time, with liberal ideals and equality carried through most of the Peloponnesian war.
Pericles cited the Athenian constitution in Thucydides’ work, naming the principles of equal justice, equality under the law, and government tolerance as the state’s guiding vectors (Boulton, 2021). These principles also formed a solid basis for the ideas of rationalism, humanism, and secularism in Athens, which have been typical for the modern-day USA. In the aftermath of the World War I, the USA was uniquely positioned to head the global pursuit of democracy and freedom (Frank, 2020). The cause of the U.S. rise was the focus on individualism and equality in its social and political organization. However, both the USA and Athens were pulled into a high-stakes war where their dominance in the international arena was undermined. That was the Peloponnesian war for Athenians and the World War II – for Americans.
The victory in those wars gave the winners power to control their own policies and impose their agendas on other states. Thus, when the stakes were so high, the democratic leaders could not afford a failure and had to do everything possible for the victory, no matter how cruel or immoral it was. Athens committed a bloody massacre upon the people of Melos, executing all men and enslaving women and children after a long siege (Thucydides, 2018). The USA imprisoned innocent Japanese Americans after the Pearl Harbor attack, conducted strategic bombings of Japanese civilian cities, and ultimately exposed Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the nuclear bombing. All these events point to the duality of the democratic system’s values in the war times, suggesting that even the most liberal democracy can commit war atrocities once facing a deadly threat.
Racism: The Failure of Democratic Ideal of Equality
One of the democratic failures shared by the USA and Athens is the inherent tension between the proclaimed ideals of equality and humanism and the marginalization of specific population groups. As Boulton (2021) pointed out, the Athenian democracy was a privilege only for the citizens, while around 250,000 slaves, non-citizens, and women had no tangible rights within that system. This social stratification is often compared to ideas about race and racial relations in America, though with distinct historical differences in their formation (Boulton, 2021). America in the early 20th century was already free from slavery, but it was still a deeply segregated state, with African Americans kept at inferior positions as second-class people. Thus, the tendency toward non-democratic and unethical behavior observed in the flawed democratic system of Athens is also traceable in the USA during the discussed historical period.
Racism shaped the U.S. war with the Japanese to a large extent. As Weingarter (1992) suggested, the Japanese foes were much more dehumanized in the American psyche during WWII events. First, the reason for that difference was a surprise attack of the Japanese at Pearl Harbor compared to more civilized, “gentlemanly” declarations of war by Germany and Italy in Europe. Second, the underlying physical and cultural differences between white Americans and Japanese drew a much larger divide between the U.S. Army and the Asian foes than between Americans and their European enemies (Weingarter, 1992).
The opinion about the U.S. white supremacist position in international relations with Japan at the onset of the World War II was also supported by Record (2009). The researcher pointed out that the U.S. administration never wanted to enter the war directly, hoping to limit its participation by sending armor and vehicles to its European allies and the USSR. However, it acted short-sightedly when imposing an oil embargo on Japan and freezing all Japanese assets held in the U.S. banks in July of 1941. Japan heavily depended on oil imports from the USA and needed Southeast Asia for uninterrupted oil supplies. Hence, it preferred to unleash a war with the USA with a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. authorities never considered it possible (though there were intelligence reports and warnings) because of the self-imposed superior position in the conflict (Record, 2009).
Executive Order 9066
Once the tragedy of Pearl Harbor took place, and the war was declared, the U.S. nation experienced a wave of anti-Japanese hysteria. The disproportionality of panic was explained by a long-held belief that the USA was intact in any war because of its distance and non-interference. However, the Japanese bombers ruined Americans’ peace of mind, demanding urgent action from the U.S. leaders. Executive Order 9066, issued in March of 1942, showed the magnitude of fear and racial hatred toward the Japanese in the USA. It ordered all Japanese American residents of the West Coast to evacuate from their homes and arrive at internment camps within 48 hours (Goldstone, 2022). Over 112,000 innocent Americans of Japanese origin had to abandon all their property and business affairs to come to the internment camp, where they were detained for security purposes. Notably, the order did not cover Americans of German and Italian descent, proving the racial component of anti-Japanese aggression in the USA in that dark historical period.
The Nikkei (Japanese Americans) were given a chance to prove their loyalty to the USA by volunteering for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team that fought against the Nazis in Europe (Bonner, 2022). The team acted bravely and managed to achieve notable awards in the course of WWII military activities. Four decades after the outraging act of oppression against the Japanese Americans, the U.S. government acknowledged this wrongdoing in 1988 by passing the Civil Liberties Act. The latter served as an apology for the injustice of internment camps, allocating $20,000 to every victim of that racial aggression (Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, 2018). However, the fact that the Japanese Americans were ripped off their status as American citizens equal to everyone else in their democratic homeland and were forced to prove their loyalty suggests a departure from democratic ideals during the U.S.-Japan struggle.
Strategic Bombing of Tokyo (March 9-10, 1945)
Besides multiple forms of oppression and dehumanization that the Japanese faced in the U.S. territory; the Japanese civilian population suffered from unjustified violence on the part of the U.S. military. One of the prominent examples was the strategic bombing of Tokyo held on March 9-10, 1945, to convince the Japanese government to surrender (Tucker, 2020). The Tokyo bombing is still regarded as the bloodiest and the most devastating act of military aggression ever committed, with the civilian death toll exceeding 100,000 people. The Japanese called that day “Night of the Black Snow,” as 334 U.S. warplanes systemically covered the streets of Tokyo with over 2,000 tons of incendiary bombs (Grant, 2022).
The Tokyo operation called “Meetinghouse” won the broadest coverage during the war and its aftermath because of the absence of any moral or ethical justification for that strategic measure for Japanese deterrence. However, it was not the only instance in which the civilian population in Japan was subjected to disproportionate violence on the part of the USA. The infamous Tokyo bombing by Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle in April of 1942 caused minor damage to the civilians but served as an American morale boost after the shock of Pearl Harbor (Tucker, 2020). Many bombing efforts throughout 1944 also caused unnecessary civilian damage because of Americans’ inaccuracy and poor weather conditions (Grant, 2022). Thus, the idea that Americans could feel safe again only by seeing the Japanese suffer from American bombings casts a shadow on the respect for democratic ideals and the value of innocent people’s lives.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
With the war ending in the European continent in May 1945, Japan was still defiant, refusing to sign a surrender pact. Thus, the U.S. President Truman ordered to drop two nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in August of 1945. The damage was devastating; the Hiroshima bombing resulted in the deaths of 129,000 civilians, while the death toll of the Nagasaki bombing exceeded 200,000 people (Frank, 2020). The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings still remain the only case of nuclear weapons use in an armed conflict.
The worst about that attack was an absence of warning or ultimatum on the part of the USA. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were taken by surprise, losing their lives, acquiring irreparable health damage, and developing severe diseases due to nuclear radiation. As Bess (2008) explained, the U.S. nuclear bombing of Japan changed the vector of the World War II timeline. It spurred “deeper moral and political questions about the meanings of national honor, about America’s role in world politics, and about America’s very self-image as a nation” (Bess, 2008, p. 34). Thus, the nuclear bombing revealed a serious problem in American democracy: the extent of violence and destruction to which fear for its security can drive a nation amid a high-stakes military conflict.
The moral and ethical problem of the nuclear bombings of Japan is the preference for utilitarian logic in the decision-making process. According to Fisher (2020), those bombings have been largely justified by politicians throughout the 20th century by their outcome – ending the war – giving little attention to the means used to achieve this goal. Taking a closer look at the method Americans chose to save million of soldiers potentially at risk during an on-land invasion, one can see that the price is too high. The American support for that step is well-documented; the Gallup poll of 1945 published by Moore (2005) showed that 85% of surveyed Americans approved of the bombing. The outcome was over 200,000 people killed and millions more affected, which stands in sharp contrast with the democratic agenda of Americans. As Frank (2020) observed, there were no civilians in Japan for the USA; so strong was the fear among the U.S. population and a desire to annihilate the enemy by all means. These observations thus prove the ability of a democratic nation to depart from democratic ideals and commit massacres over hundreds of thousands of people they fear for the sake of the greater good.
The perspective of Thucydides laid out in The Peloponnesian War offered an insightful paradigm for considering the impact of fear, perceived threat, and rising stakes as drivers of aggression. As the presented discussion of the U.S. treatment of the Japanese civilians during the World War II showed, even democratic states can act immorally if they feel a severe threat during a protracted war. Thus, the behavior of the USA and its European Allies in the fight against Nazis during the World War II excellently fit the social Darwinism model instead of a democratic approach. This model follows the principle that might is right, and the victors shape the global public’s vision about their actions to stop the war. Obviously, the historical context was very nuanced, and many tough decisions had no alternatives; still, the neglect of ethics and morality of those decisions across Western states is surprising. History is written by the winners, so the discussion of acts of racism and genocide is unpopular in the Western vision of the World War II Ally activities.
Bess (2008). Moral dimensions of World War II: A forum. Historically Speaking (March/April 2008), 34-49.
Bonner, D. F. (2022). Nisei spirit: The cultural identity of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Combat Studies Institute Press.
Boulton, A. O. (2021). Democracy and empire: The Athenian invasion of Sicily, 415-413 BCE. Rowman & Littlefield.
Carugati, F. (2019). Creating a constitution: Law, democracy, and growth of Ancient Athens. Princeton University Press.
Fisher, R. (2020). Can nuclear war be morally justified? BBC. Web.
Frank, R. B. (2020). There are no civilians in Japan. The National WWII Museum, New Orleans. Web.
Goldstone, L. (2022). Days of infamy: How a century of bigotry led to Japanese American internment. Scholastic Inc.
Grant, R. G. (2022). Bombing of Tokyo. Britannica. Web.
Lockard, C. A. (2020). Societies, networks, and transitions: A global history. Cengage Learning.
Moore, D. W. (2005). Majority supports use of atomic bomb on Japan in WWII. Gallup. Web.
Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress. (2018). NCRR: The grassroots struggle for Japanese American redress and reparations. UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press.
Record, J. (2009). Japan’s decision for war in 1941. Strategic Studies Institute.
Sapolsky, H. M., Gholz, E., & Talmadge, C. (2020). US defense politics: The origins of security policy. Routledge.
Thucydides. (2018). The history of the Peloponnesian war. Lulu.com.
Tucker, S. C. (2020). Weapons and warfare: From ancient to medieval times to the 21st century. ABC-CLIO.
Weingarter, J. J. (1992). Trophies of war: U.S. troops and the mutilation of Japanese war dead, 1941-1945. Pacific Historical Review, 61(1), 53-67. Web.