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‘A Humane Imperialism’
A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War by Victor Davis Hanson

2005, Random House, NY, 397 pages

“Everything considered wisdom at the beginning of the war would be proven folly by its end.”

I was rereading A War Like No Other for the military history project I am intent on wrapping up and found the author speaking to my folly on every page, from the prehistory of 2005, when things considered wisdom our now scoffed at in an entirely “other” age of absurd civic assumptions.

Hanson’s style is clean, stark and potent, written as if thoughtfully spoken in a style that might have pleased the ancients who attached sacral meaning to “the word,” to who human verbal expression was not simply a tool for status and persuasion, but which carried the blessing of considered thought.

The professor begins with Fear, 35 pages outlining the mutual fears of the Spartans and their allies versus the Athenians, who had few allies and many imperial subjects. This recalled Art Richardson [my 9th grade history teacher] discussing the Peloponnesian War in terms of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union: land power versus sea power, democracy versus tyranny, stark tradition versus flamboyant liberality, etc. Thucydides, the primary source for Hanson’s and any treatment of this disastrous war, intended his work “for all peoples and all ages,” and saw in the war which he suffered in and wrote about a demonstration of man’s character as a social entity.

As I read on, however the desire of historians to constantly compare the Athenians versus the Spartans to the British versus the French, the British versus the Russians, the British versus the Germans, the Americans versus the Soviets and finally the Americans versus the Chinese, falls coldly and off the mark. For these are Anglo-American interpretations which fixate on sea power versus land power and failed to expose the Modern Liberal West for the tyranny of the mind which it is. Other than the last example, all of these are European versus European examples. Indeed, even the Greco-Persian wars were brother wars, as the Persians were fully as Aryan as their fellow Caucasians across the Aegean.

What is a good mirror image of the Peloponnesian War?

This title meant the “Red-Face-Island War,” a strictly Athenian interpretation, a view of the traditional agrarian peoples of that island Hinterland as the enemy. Yet the Athenians prove to be the most savage and immoral.

First, by modern and postmodern standards, the Peloponnesian war may only be regarded as a civil war:

-People with close ethnic ties,

-In the same distinct geographic region,

-Speaking the same languages,

-Sharing the same religious legacy,

-Who had formerly fought together against speakers of other languages,

-And forming a complete nation in economic terms, with food-growing hinterlands cultivating the finest infantrymen in the world,

-And coastal cities exporting shared culture—such as sports and theater—far and wide.

The Persians would serve as a better analogy for the Soviets and the entire Greek world the Americans. Indeed, the Peloponnesian strife began initially almost as soon as Athens and Sparta defeated Persia, much as the current American cultural fragmentation began after the fall of the Soviet Union.

What other parallels mark the Peloponnesian War and the self-hatred of America?

The Athenians were coastal city dwellers of a liberal mind arrayed against the Spartans of the farming interior who were conservatives.

The Spartans still clung to their spears and shields as a means of autonomy as the American conservative clings to his rifle.

The Athenians used their state-of-the-art navy—a thing essentially new in its conduct—as a means of subjugating the world to its will, just as the very liberal federal government uses the U.S. navy and air force to maintain military force around the world. Athens was a vicious imperialistic power with dozens of client states cringing in their wake.

Athens controlled all media, as do the liberal leaders of American society, with all major info-tech companies overtly leftist, five of six news networks overtly leftist, and all but two newspapers overtly leftist. Theater was an essentially Athenian art form just as Hollywood is an essentially leftist arm of the media.

Athens, like liberal America today, was actively taking down smaller governments oversees and replacing the local form of government with democracy.

Sparta had a tradition of oppressing indigenous ethnic tribes in the interior just as American riflemen had in the United States. However, in Sparta this was ongoing, not past history.

Athens, like America today, was actively using money and force to place traditional Hellenic communities under liberal rule in the interior of Greece, just as modern American elites from California, Manhattan and Washington D.C. have been migrating to small towns in Montana, Utah, Colorado and other interior states and taking over municipal management of longtime communities.

Athens conducted no less than five genocides, where the Spartans conducted none. Likewise, as American conservatives “just want to be left alone,” American leftists are calling for the end of the “white” race and the media and law enforcement controlled by American liberals have restructured the idea of violence to omit attacks against wrong thinkers, with most leftists believing that it is okay to injure, kill or imprison wrong thinkers in a quest to force all types of people to lie closely together in universal agreement, while the majority of conservatives believe in living separately from those they disagree with. These two temperaments go together like lambs and wolves.

Currently in the most liberal American cities, police are being recruited from among foreign nationals just as the Athenians did with their Scythian police, while law enforcement in rural areas follows the Spartan model of a home grown police presence in the form of sheriffs. This natural liberal urge to bring in outsiders as proxy aggressors is also reflected in the leftist mania for importing Mexican Drug Cartel operatives.


One parallel, which this reader thinks dooms the conservatives of rural America is that both internal struggles, the ancient one in Greece and the current one in America, had outside financial backing for antagonistic parties. In the Peloponnesian War the Persians backed the poor conservative Spartans and the Spartans used that money to win by buying fleet. However, in the current uncivil strife, international money comes not from a nation but from NGOs funding urban unrest through front organizations such as Antifa and BLM, extra-national religious organizations resettling unmarried military age Islamic males in the cities of the interior, in places such as the Midwest and Great Plains, and drug cartels taking over sections of national forests in rural zones. Furthermore, internal NGO support from the info-tech giants all goes to the Left.

The other great contrast is that the Athenian army could not deal with the Spartan army, whereas the massive U.S. military, while mirroring the Athenian tool of genocide and tyranny ruining and occupying small nations oversees, in fact employs the best modern “Spartans” in its own ranks and will be able to impose its will on rural Americans.

The oligarchy versus democracy theme of the Peloponnesian war does not fit our postmodern comparison, for democracy has become nothing but the tool of those aspects of the financial and media oligarchy which have evolved into our current plutocracy.


Let me not forget the wonderful narrative history that inspired this analogous turn of mind and quote Hanson at his best from page 18 of the first chapter, Fear, a lesson as to what sparks the cruelest wars:

“Just think of it: a land versus a maritime power, the starkness of the Dorians contrasted with Ionian liberality. Oligarchy was pitted against democracy, practiced dearth set against ostentatious wealth. A rural Hamlet dethroned a majestic imperial city; and a garrison state professed the cause of Greek autonomy abroad even as a humane imperialism killed the innocent.”

Our consistent ignorance of and misreading of history has largely doomed us to repeat it. However, the work of Victor Davis Hanson not only highlights this propensity among the most warlike of the human races—the European races—but also shows that these folk have always pursued brother wars against one another over their various beliefs with greater diabolism than they ever have wars against more divergent peoples. In the Peloponnesian War the reader is treated to an ancient mirror which reflects forward still, grim images which would repeat in such nation maiming struggles as the Thirty Years War, the Napoleonic Wars, The American Civil War, World War I and World War II and whispers hideously and unheard in our ignorant ears of savage strife to come.

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