The Great War: The Greco-Persian War

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From 492-449 BC, Greece and Persia fought a series of wars known as the Greco-Persian Wars. The fighting lasted almost half a century and the Greeks, overcoming impossible odds, triumphed over the Persian Empire. The victory guaranteed the extended survival of Greek culture and political structure. However, extensive war does not occur for simple reasons. The Greeks and Persians had a widespread history of tension and commonly disagreed on many issues. The hostility began when Cyrus the Great deemed himself King of Persia in 539 BC. He wanted to expand his rule in order to gain more power. Throughout the next decade, he conquered many Greek city-states, known as Ionia. Located in western Asia Minor (now Turkey), Ionia came under rule of…show more content…
However, in order to determine which approach a state is likely to choose, two independent variables can be analyzed: “the distribution of power and the geographic location of the state.” Mearsheimer argues, “the determinant factor that prompts the great powers to opt for a strategy of gaining power is the distribution of relative power.” In systems with two great power, one power will attempt to gain more power by weakening their opponent in indirect ways. This bipolar system causes one power to pursue blackmailing or bloodletting. This prevents a massive war, while still wearying the opponent. However, in a system of balance multipolarity, more options are available: limited war, blackmail, bloodletting, and bait and bleed. These options are available because the room for maneuver is wider. Within an unbalance multipolarity, a hegemonic war is the only option. Since any attempt at achieving the title of regional hegemon will bring conflict with other coalitions, all potential hegemons must defeat every rival in order to achieve its goal. Figure 1 in the appendix demonstrates the available options depending on the distribution of power. When deciding on the best strategy of checking power, states must analyze the geographic location of their rival state and the distribution of power within the international system. In bipolarity, buck-passing is impossible because there is no third great power to catch the buck. Therefore, in a system with two great powers, balancing is the only option. Within a balanced multipolar system, if the rival is geographically far, buck-passing is the best option because other power can check the aggressor. However, if the rival is closer, balancing is the preferred strategy. In unbalanced multipolarity, the power is asymmetrically distributed. This causes one state to strive for regional hegemon and only engage in balancing in order to

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