In the days of Greek prominence, Sparta was one of, if not the most formidable group in Ancient Greece. They had the most powerful land force in all of Greece and was known for its fighting culture and warrior spirit. During this time, another Greek city-state was rising to prominence. Known for its philosopher mentality and democratic way of governing, Athens slowly expanded their empire throughout all of the Meditteranean. Thucydides says that Athen’s rise to power threatened Sparta and was one of the prominent reasons that the two powers came to blows (Thucydides). In today’s society, the United States is in a similar position with a foreign adversary. In recent decades the United States has fallen into a Thucydides Trap with Russia, with the United States consistently feeling threatened with the rise of their global presence and power. This threatened feeling has almost resulted in conflict on numerous occasions.
The threat of Russia to the United States as a prominent global power began near the beginning of the Cold War with the USSR. At this time, the United States and the USSR were at the height of their arms and space races, both trying to outdo the other for power. The USSR was being extremely aggressive with the creation of nuclear weaponry, and their growing power is something that scared the United States. In addition to this, the USSR’s commitment to spreading their communist ideals threatened the United States view that democracy should be the more prominent political ideology in the world after WWII (Congress archives). Due to the fact that the United States was recognized as the prominent global power at the time, this threat from the USSR is something that they took very seriously, which in turn led to the beginning of the Cold War. This is one case where the United States came to a sort of ‘war’ with Russia because of their rise in power.
Another instance of the United States feeling threatened by Russia and their rise in power is in more recent times. In the past few years Russia has been going through many different situations that could potentially threaten the United States. Russia has been threatening neighboring countries, mainly Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, and has an inner circle of diplomats who help advise him on these erratic actions (Forbes). Not only this, but they have continued to stockpile nuclear weapons and have stated that they are prepared and ready for action. In addition to this Russia feels that the west has it out for them in a way, which has increased their resentment towards the United States, and pushed the two countries closer to a conflict.
In general, the United States and Russia have had a very tentative relationship for many years now. The United States has done a multitude of actions in response to Russia’s increasing power and in many different cases has been threatened by their recent rise in power. These two powers represent a clear modern day representation of Sparta and Athens, with the United States feeling the same threat that Sparta did back in their time.
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Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War primary source