Home / Articles / The Paradox of Great Powers: Allies and Force in Montesquieu’s Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline
Montesquieu’s Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline examines the strategy used by the Romans to maintain their empire. The strategy, a product of thought and will and not an inevitable outcome of sheer material power or geographic location, established a very delicate balance between the use of force and the formation of alliances. Alliances are not outcomes of some large systemic balancing mechanism, but arise because of carefully conceived and consistently implemented imperial strategies mixing benefits and threats. To keep power an empire needs allies, but to keep allies an empire needs power.