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How Islamic Terrorism Is A Thucydides Trap

Thucydides was a man who developed the idea that Sparta fell into an indirect war trap with Athens in 430 BC. He was a smart man, and predicted the catalyst for many wars to come. America has found themselves within numerous traps like Thucydides has defined for Sparta, even in modern times.

Thucydides described the Peloponnesian War as Sparta’s aggression towards the growth of Athens’ military power in 430 B.C. Athens received control of the Mediterranean naval power called the Delian League. Over time, Athens rose to be the leader of the Delian League, and they assumed an aggressive stance in controlling the members of the league. Sparta was a member of this league, and feared the path that Athens was taking. Sparta formed their own naval league called the Peloponnesian League. The two empires found themselves in conflict, and Sparta eventually won the war. This theme of conflicts would repeat itself among different empires and countries forever. 

The United States of America has found itself in multiple “Thucydides traps”. The growth of a new power often becomes a threat to an established power based on fears of outcomes that could be. When Sparta sensed a growth of power within Athens, the Peloponnesian War had started between the two powers. This concept is mirrored in American history in the Revolutionary War, and the ongoing conflicts between the United States and Islamic Terrorism. The thing that differentiates the three times were the positions and power holders of the time. Thucydides describes the cause of the Peloponnesian War was an established power’s response to a growing power. In the three examples stated above, the differentiating factor was who was the holder of lesser power.

In 1776, the Continental Congress of the United States ratified the Declaration of Independence. This document declared the 13 colonies who were under British rule would become independent. Prior to this document being signed, Britain was an established power within the United States, and had started to conduct military aggression and seizure of American arms. Following the Declaration, Britain responded by sending more troops to the colonies in a more focused war effort.The Revolutionary War took place in the colonies, with the United States eventually earning independence through blood and sacrifice. In this case, Britain was caught in the Thucydides trap. They had felt the divide between the American citizens, and feared that the colonies may be preparing to uprise. America was the growing power.

Since the time where the United States was recognized as a dominant international power, there have been numerous armed conflicts that it has taken part in. In recent times, the United States has found itself in a different kind of conflict. All of the conflicts mentioned in this post have been conflicts between two countries-or empires. Ever since the terrorist attacks in 2001, the United States has been at war against radical Islamic terrorist groups scattered throughout the Middle East. Terrorism is not a country or empire, but it still is a power that has grown since the attacks in 2001. The United States is the established power that fears the growth of the Jihadi-Islamic terrorist ideology. America has been at war for 18 years within the region, but even with numerous victories on the battlefield Islamic terrorism is still an issue. America’s ongoing conflict with the growth of terrorism within the Middle East is a modern day Thucydides trap

–Jackson Mitchell

Word count: 596

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