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Does Machiavelli’s observations apply to the US in Iraq?

October 1, 2010

Niccolo Machiavelli was a fantastic philosopher in Florence in the late 15th century. He wrote one of the most famous pieces ever, The Prince, discussing how one should rule over people and the best ways to maintain control with little resistance. He analyzes many cases before him like how the King of France did not do a good job of conquering Italy by giving too much power to the Catholic Church and the Kingdom of Spain. But while reading The Prince, this particular paragraph sounded an awful lot like the current state of the U.S. in Iraq the last couple of years. In this particular case, Machiavelli is talking about new kingdom’s acquired with one’s own skill but see if it could apply to our presence in Iraq. This quote is from page 17.

Nothing more risky to pull off, than to set oneself up as a leader who plans to found a new system of government. For the founder makes enemies of all those who are doing well under the new system and has only lukewarm support from those who hope to do well under the new one. The weakness of their support springs partly from their fear of their adversaries, who have the law on their side, partly from this own want of faith. For men do not truly believe in new things until they have had practical experience of them. So it is, whenever those who are enemies of new order have a chance to attack it, they do so ferciously, while the others defend it half-heartedly.

The U.S. set up of democracy in Iraq after the takedown of Saddam Hussein but it was met with alot of resistance in Iraq. As the war went on, Democrats in the U.S. began to attack our presence in Iraq and soon Republicans who at first backed the takeover, distanced themselves from President Bush and the Iraq War, case in point the 2008 Presidential Election. In Iraq, many supporters half-heartedly backed the new government while the opposite side attacked U.S. soldiers and tried to create chaos. So…

2 Comments
  1. Will Butler permalink
    October 4, 2010 1:32 AM

    In the end, I would say that Machiavelli would not approved of the Iraq war because the “means have not quite justified the ends.” The Iraq war has cost a lot of political and fiscal capital, with very little fiscal or political gain. It also seems to me that the decision to go to war with Iraq was not made with the best “reasoning” or “interest” of the state. It has actually been a detriment to state activities and programs.

  2. Andrew Laing permalink
    October 4, 2010 6:04 PM

    in terms of the U.S trying to exert its agenda upon on the middle east, it is clearly Machiavellian in principle. Simply by having a military presence in iraq allows for greater authority for our state. For security and influence it would be beneficial for the U.S, in Machiavelli’s view, “to be feared more than loved” instead of relying on half-hearted support.

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