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Posts Tagged ‘Colin Powell’

…restraint impresses men most. Or so it has been said: by Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and before that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on many occasions; by President Lyndon B. Johnson, some thirty years earlier, in a speech at the Annual Swedish Day Picnic in Minneapolis; by a number of writers and scholars, at least some of whom should have known better; and by an alarmingly large number of websites. By Thucydides, however, not at all, although the line is attributed to him in the majority of cases. Since 2004, it has been reasonably well established that the quote is not to be found in any extant English translation (see Shifra Sharlin, ‘Thucydides and the Powell doctrine’, Raritan 24.1 (2004), pp. 12-28), and so is unlikely to be genuine (though several reputable classicists have suggested that it could be a reasonable paraphrase of one or other line in Thucydides); but its actual origins, and the means by which it came to be associated with Thucydides, have remained in darkness. Until now, or to be exact until a couple of weeks ago.

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