Machiavelli’s America

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The Other Prince

 

Recently I picked up Philip Bobbitt’s The Garments Of Court And Palace: Machiavelli And The World That He Made after hearing the author interviewed on the John Batchelor Show.

I’ve written sympathetically of Machiavelli elsewhere but I’ve only explored the topic superficially.

Bobbitt’s book has been, to put it mildly, a revelation. Unfortunately, this revelation has been mainly due to the fact that the Florentine has been so badly framed to begin with. Bobbitt sets out to correct the record in his succinct little work.

 

Machiavelli’s “Ideal”

 

Machiavelli had a vision for Florence and Italy, a new order, but as he articulates this vision in The Discourses and The Prince he does so from a unique standpoint: “I shall depart,” he writes, “from the practices of other writers who depict an imaginary world and shall instead describe the ways princes actually behave and how the world reacts.” Out with utopias, in with experience and history (35)! Realism (dealing with the world as it is) trounces idealism (dealing with the world as it should be).

But to what end does he seek to ascertain lessons from the past?  Continue reading

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No Appeasement: Where To Now?

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ap·pease·mentəˈpēzmənt/

əˈpēzmənt/

noun

1) the action or process of appeasing. (google)

2) a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an enemy power in order to avoid conflict. (wiki)

3) word used by all hawks to bludgeon anyone who doesn’t take a hardline stance against aggression. (my definition)

Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler at Munich was, at the time, not as controversial as it was a year later as German tanks stormed across the Polish border. In 1938 Chamberlain and the Brits, in general, had no desire to fight a war with Germany to uphold what they increasingly saw as an abusive and unjust Treaty of Versailles. Plus, Hitler seemed a strong bullwark in the middle of Europe against Soviet aggression. Plus, Britain’s military was stretched thin and underfunded.

And so Chamberlain came to a gentleman’s agreement with Hitler: the Sudentland for peace.

Of course, Hitler did not stop with the Sudentland and the agreement at Munich has now become a symbol of the bankruptcy of the strategy of appeasement. Indeed, it’s haunted American president’s ever since: Truman in Korea; LBJ in Vietnam; Reagan and Gorby.

It is a haunting, though, make no mistake. Hitler on the brain. The fear of the domino effect.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk, and then he’s going to take over your house, put a bullet in your brain, and bury you in the basement. So damn it, don’t give the mouse a cookie! Continue reading