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The Prince of Darkness

When Machiavelli's premise "The end justifies the means" is applied to diplomacy. Fast forward 500 years

In his book The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) claims that a successful end justifies whatever means are used to achieve it, however immoral these may be.

Today, we see a sequel in real-life, modern-day diplomacy, with two leaders, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, claiming that their action in Iraq, however immoral or illegal, was wholly justified because Iraq is a better place today now that Saddam Hussein has been toppled.

The claim is a chilling reminder of the imbalance which has suddenly swept over the international community. This is not medieval Italian politics - it is the new century. Five hundred years after Machiavelli wrote his book, the Prince has returned only this time, it is in the guise of the Prince of Darkness.

Machiavelli and his contemporaries would smile in their graves at the notion that a war was waged based upon allegations stemming from lies built around forged documents and exaggerated and unfounded claims.

Mass murder has been committed, on purpose. This was no case of mistaken identity or a lamentable accident. It was planned, it was programed, it was projected and it was executed in cold blood. Execution is the word. Tens of thousands of civilians have been slaughtered.

Yet President Bush and Prime Minister Blair continue to claim that nothing could be better. After all, Saddam Hussein was responsible for killing civilians as well. Where is the logic? That it is better for the US and British pilots to kill the Iraqis before Saddam could do so? That Saddam was evil to kill civilians but the US and British pilots are heroes?

The claim is also a telling insight into the mindset of these men and those who keep them in power. Gone for them is the age of chivalry, of decency, of moral values, of honesty, of trust. These were the values which they were elected to respect. These are the values which they have insulted, derided and ignored.

Like Machiavelli's Prince, the end justifies the means for these men, however callous, however immoral, however evil it is. To claim that Iraq is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not in power does not right the wrong. The analogy is simple.

A man in the neighborhood beats up his wife. He beat up one neighbor who interfered. Two others, further up the road, decided to gather a group of 50 heavily armed men, under the pretext that the bully would attack the whole neighborhood, within 45 minutes. So they entered his house, destroyed it
and set fire to it, killing one of his children and leaving the other, and his wife, destitute. They failed to find the bully. Now they claim his wife is better off because her husband does not beat her any more. And they call the surviving child a terrorist because he resents their presence in his home.

The definition of Machiavellian principles is "politics without loyalty or good faith, perfidious way of proceeding" What an accurate description of the diplomatic slant followed by the USA and UK, whose leaders, if they had an iota of decency in them, would present their resignations. Now.

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