History Today subscription

The Legacy of Byzantium

Michael Antonucci discerns Byzantine origins in today's international power politics.

The Baptism of Constantine painted by Raphael's pupils (1520–1524, fresco, Vatican City, Apostolic Palace)The conventional view of diplomacy is one of negotiation and compromise leading to a settlement of differences. However, history often shatters this view. The conduct of international relations is also a struggle between competing national interests... and diplomacy can be as potent a weapon as any army. To alter Clausewitz's maxim, international relations can often be war conducted by other means. The Serbian government arms ethnic Serbs in Bosnia. The United States supports Kurds seeking the ousting of Saddam Hussein. The Soviets persuade Cubans to go to Angola while setting up nuclear freeze groups in Western Europe. The Chinese support the Khmer Rouge to nullify Vietnamese authority in Cambodia. Measures such as these are efforts to defeat an enemy's intentions without the risk and costs of overt military force. These international actions have become so commonplace they are considered legitimate tools in the foreign policy repertoire.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.

 

X

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week