How should states who are all facing the same security dilemma interact with one another?

How should states who are all facing the same security dilemma interact with one another?

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Within a society, the populace are compelled to follow rules due to being prompted by a higher authority. When these laws fail, rectifying this deficiency becomes a priority of the state; murderers are arrested, riots are suppressed, new regulations and safe checks are imposed to deter future renegades from harassing the system. These actions by the state’s sovereign power ensure that the community remains harmonious and balanced. Within the international community an individual state is unable to defer to a higher authority to demand that justice be enforced, since there is no authority higher than the state itself. The consequence of this is that independent nations are forced to rely on themselves for security within international society. These facts lead to a question that has been at the core of just war theory debates; how should states who are all facing the same security dilemma interact with one another? The various theoretical answers to this question form to two fundamentally opposed conclusions; nations will either seek to expand their individual power to facilitate their own security, or will construct an international union to ensure mutual defense. While the latter promotes an international community based upon cooperation, the former predicts perpetual conflict. In order to perform an analysis of these conflicting predictions we will turn to Thucydides, who provides a historical example of this debate within his recount of the Melian Dialogue. Within this dialogue, the powerful Athenians assert that strength alone justifies their demand for the submission of the weaker island of Melos. The Melians counter with their own plea to justice, claiming that the advancement of Athenian power and Melian autonomy a...


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...rve life and avoid death proves that the law of nature is more suited to cooperation than conflict. Using power to maintain power ensures the necessity of the continual use of force to quell those who a state’s power is used to oppress. As the Athenians looked to history to prove that “Nature always compels men to rule over anyone they can control,” it fails to recognize that nature also compels men to be free, and the violence of the oppressor will be pitted against the violence oppressed. Even if the more powerful state is successful in its conquest, it will always be at war with those whose liberty it infringes upon. The strength that a nation utilizes to allow them to conquer today will be the same strength that forces them to fight tomorrow, and the next day. For these reasons the arguments of the Athenian’s must be rejected for those of the Melian’s.

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