Alexandros Koutsoukis

Photograph of Alexandros Koutsoukis

BA University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece)
MA (Hons) University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Tel: +44 (0)1970 623111 ext 8469
Fax: +44 (0)1970 622709
Room: 2.21

Year of Entry



Professor Milja Kurki, Dr Jan Ruzicka


Challenging Victor Bias & Stratus Quo Bias In Realist Accounts of Surrender: Re-Reading Three Cases of Surrender from the Peloponnesian War

From a materialist realist perspective, when a state surrenders power preponderance considerations, that is a state’s relative weakness in terms of material power, should provide the bulk of the explanation for the surrender. Yet, weak states have surrendered quickly and slowly and on occasion have done so only to soon challenge their conquerors. This thesis is driven by a puzzle concerning whether material power and (actual or projected) victory in war can explain logics of surrender and, if not, what this may mean for our understanding of surrender, realism and IR more widely. This study focuses our attention on the fact that surrendering highlights that realism’s core assumption - that states seek survival - is in fact underspecified and problematic. On one hand, state survival seen as autonomy is theoretically paradoxical because in practice it can be easily sacrificed in some instances of surrender. On the other hand, survival as autonomy is underspecified since under different conditions it can be traded off at too high a price making state death and annihilation a real possibility.  Recognition of this is evaded in standard realist approaches. This thesis develops a perspective on surrender which shares some aspects of a cost-benefit approach characteristic of realism, the Strategic Choice Approach (SCA), but innovates by not assuming an abstract view of rationality. Guided by SCA, this thesis problematises surrendering and seeks to explain surrendering from the actor’s own perspective. To explicate surrendering I concentrate on three case studies focused on analysis of surrendering in ancient Greece. The thesis argues that states’ logic of surrendering relates not only to appeasement and opportunistic bandwagoning but also to such non-realist reasons such as gratitude, seduction and recognition. If we do not start from realist assumptions, argued here to be characterised by victor bias and which lead to status quo bias, we can observe certain reasonable, ethically-inspired, and at the same time high-risk actions in the surrendering logics of states. The case studies of surrendering developed here explain both delayed and very fast surrendering and account for the surprising rise of instability in response to some surrenders. Overall, it demonstrates that non-material and psychological factors can over-ride concerns about survival. This analysis of surrender highlights the potential weaknesses of realist theoretical assumptions when applied to study of surrender and demonstrates that close analysis of surrender logics allows us to better understand not only war and stability but also what is at stake in how we approach theorising IR.

General Research Interests

Realism (esp. Neorealism, Neoclassical Realism, Strategic Choice Approach & Gilpinian Realism)
Assumption of Survival
Heuristic application of theories, eclecticism & pragmatism

War termination & surrender
Recognition & Ethics of war

The Peloponnesian War & Thucydidean Studies

Broader Research Interests

Honour & International Hierarchy; Peace & IR; Powers of the Powerless; War/Peace distinctions; Emotions; Machiavelli;

Other Responsibilities

Editorial Assistant, Kantian Review

Commissioning Editor for IR Theory, E-IR

(esp. on IR theory’s interlinkages with peace and conflict studies)

Publications and Conference Papers


2013, ‘Building an empire or not? Athenian imperialism and the United States in the twenty-first century’, Global Discourse 3 (1): 12-30.

2008, ‘The preventive war doctrine and the war in Afghanistan: crisis management or war conflict?’, Working Papers ΕΛΙΑΜΕΠ, [Online]

Book Chapters

2014, “Building an Empire or Not? Athenian Imperialism and the United States in the 21st Century.” In The Crisis of the Twenty-First Century: Empire in the Age of Austerity, edited by Russell Foster, Matthew Johnson and Mark Edward. London: Routledge.

Interviews (conducted)

Koutsoukis, A (2016), “Interview – Steven C. Roach”, E-IR, (02-11-2016).

Koutsoukis, A (2017), “Interview – Giorgio Shani”, E-IR, (02-01-2017).

Conference Papers

1-3 July 2014, “To Surrender, or Not to Surrender, That is the Question: Power Inequalities and Respect of the “Other” in Ancient Greece”, International Ancient Warfare Conference 2014, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Aberystwyth University.

18-20 June 2014, “A Machiavellian America for the Challenges of the 21st Century: Fortuna, Harmonising One’s Behaviour with the Times and Virtu in a Global Age”, BISA, panel: “Machiavelli and International Relations , Dublin.

12-13 June 2013, ‘The Heuristic Application of Explanatory Theories: Robert Gilpin’s Theory of Hegemonic War and the Peloponnesian War’, Aber-LSE-Sussex Colloquium.

Reports Sponsored by Institutions

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2009, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: Central and Eastern Europe. Twenty Years After’, LIEIS, [Online] Available at:

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2010, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: Beyond Liberalism & Socialism. Searching for a Decent Society’, LIEIS, [Online] Available at:

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2011, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: Searching for a Decent International Society’, LIEIS, [Online] Available at:

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2012, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: The rise, decline and – demise? revival? of Europe’, LIEIS, [Online] Available at:

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2013, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: Liberal democracy in the Asian century’, LIEIS (submitted)

Luxembourg Institute for European and International Studies 2014, ‘Vama Veche Executive Summary: The Future of Freedom, LIEIS (submitted)

Teaching Experience

Aberystwyth University, Department of International Politics, Part-Time Teaching Staff

2016-17 “Approaching the Political” (IP10820)
2016-17 “Understanding the Social World” (SA10120)
2016-17 “Exploring the International” (IP12420)
2014-15 “Approaching the Political” (IP10820)
2014-15 “Warfare After Waterloo” (IP35320)
2013-14 “Global Inequalities” (IP10920)
2013-14 “Approaching the Political” (IP10820)
2012-13 “Power & Inequality in the ‘Third World’” (IP10620)
2012-13 “Revolution & Continuity in Pol. Philosophy” (IP12220)
2011-12 “Power & Inequality in the ‘Third World’” (IP10620)

Professional Membership

British International Studies Association (BISA), member

Links of Interest Profile

ResearchGate Profile