Machiavellian Bush

“To say that war is the inevitable consequence of being human is more of a Hobbesian idea, I think, than a Machiavellian one. Machiavelli didn’t spend too much time talking about psychology in The Prince, whereas Hobbes spent a lot of his energy investigating motivation. I would argue that if Machiavelli was the proponent of any sort of political psychology, it was that man, by nature, misunderstood his proper interests, and was therefore in need of powerful, clever leadership that could lead him to them (perhaps unknowingly). Again, I refer you to the Mandragola… it’s a very short read.”

–>Thanks for the recommendation, if I get a chance I’ll look into it. I don’t know too much about Machiavelli, which is why, in part, I chose the book I’m currently reading. I am disappointed that there exists the possibility that it is an inaccurate representation of Machiavelli. Weird, though, that a seemingly respectable and notable writer/scholar could get it so wrong and still get it published…

As for Hobbes, I agree - the sort of defensive, self centered focus that is contained in my initial quote seems liek a Hobbesian state of nature.

“Right Side Up, no offense, but I don’t believe you.”

–>Don’t believe me? What does that mean? You don’t see the line of logic? According to the source, Machiavelli held as a central tenant of leadership that it is crucial to attack first in the face of a threat. The Bush admin. clearly did this with Iraq - they considered their suspected possession of gross amounts of deadly weapons to be a threat to the world - including us…why would I be lying about anything BS?!?

Just because it’s published doesn’t mean it isn’t trash. Nor does it mean that the author has any idea what he’s writing about. Machiavelli, from my readings, did NOT have a “central tenet” of first-strike military action. By reading The Prince, you’d see that he had a very complicated set of preconditions and recommendations for any Prince that wished to expand his territory. He illustrated which alliances were useful and which were dangerous, which conflicts should be avoided through diplomacy, etc. But don’t go just by what I, or any other “expert” tells you. Do the research!

RSU…ditto on what Neo stated. Machiavelli’s work is hotly debated by some scholars, who disagree on the meaning of The Prince. Basically, some take it literally, while others see it as a sales pitch of sorts to win the favor of the de’ Medici’s. In any case, try getting a copy of Machiavelli, Selected Political Writings (ed., David Wootton). It’s an easier read than most translations, and has some good background info. Its $8.95 at

Thanks guys, I appreciate your takes and recommendations.

Nephorm - though it may sound ignorant, I haven’t the time to research something like Machiavelli in such detail that I can formulate an opinion on the proper way to interpret his core texts. We never covered Machiavelli as an undergrad (BA, Philosophy), and I’ve switched academic pursuits now that I’m in grad school. Quite simply, I haven’t the time to dig into that material these days!

Either way, whatever your opinion on Machiavelli, I only posted the original post because it struck me as a parallel - if, in fact, the author has distorted Machiavelli’s positions, then I guess it’s a moot point…

right side up: what is your discipline in grad school?

Sport Admin.

“Bush, who prizes loyalty and discipline, has been criticized by former officials before. Former Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill said in a book that within days of his inauguration, Bush began making plans to invade Iraq. John Diulio, director of Bush’s office of ‘‘faith-based’’ programs, called the White House ‘‘Mayberry Machiavellis.’’ But neither had Clarke’s inside view of decision-making on terrorism.”
-USA Today

–>Thought this was interesting. It is someone close to Bush making the same correlation that I made, referring to Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq, also. Maybe Ledeen isn’t so wrong on Machiavelli, or maybe Diulio has misinterpreted him too.

The use of Machiavellian as a pejorative term pervades modern usage. I usually just sigh and continue reading.

Agreed, Neo…

Right Side, you don’t need to defend your quote from the original article. It’s all good, bro! As stated, some of us just kinda hate the fact that Machiavelli’s work was so utterly misrepresented. Like Neo stated, referring to someone as Machiavellian has become a popular “intellectual” way of dissing someone, even though those of us who’ve actually read his work know that these folks are just making fools of themselves!