Machiavelli, does he get a bad rap unfairly?

So we continue with my new FAVORITE book on Strategy...

In the next section, Dr. Freedman offers another perspective on Machiavelli, arguably the world's first political pundit and talking head. For a good chunk of history, old Niccolo got a pretty bad rap for advocating an amoral, realpolitik style of rule.

It is kind of ironic how much grief Niccolo got considering that amoral politics seem to be a staple of the "if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance" Administration, but I digress.

In real terms, I think this book gives Machiavelli a pretty balanced look.  Realpolitik strategy can appear pretty cold-hearted at times, but in the real world, where nations undertake diplomacy and war to further their own interests-"Hey, it's nothing personal, it's just strategy." Seems pretty straightforward.

In terms of domestic politics, old Niccolo hits things pretty much on the head too..his maxim that "It's better to be feared than loved," can be taken to an extreme of course, as any good IRS agent investigating the Tea Party can tell you, but for the most part real leadership sometimes requires taking the citizenry in directions they don't necessarily want to go for the good of the people....which would not be how Obamacare is working out...remember for the GOOD of the people is the key phrase.  When the prince has taken his kingdom into uncharted waters, he'd better have a good navigator to get them where he wants to go, not his wife's college roommate's company...ooops, I digress again.  In addition, although Machiavelli was a hard-nosed pragmatist, he also warned his "prince" that unduly annoying the people was not a good idea now like lying to them about "if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your health care plan."

For the most part, in the modern world, in spite of happy terms like "mulitlateralism," "multi-polar world," and "coalition of the willing," countries are going to look out for themselves.  Machiavelli was just honest enough to say this, and a few other things, that might make fuzzy headed "can't we all just get along" progressives gnash their teeth, but for those of us who can think clearly, he has just written down what everyone is thinking.  The business of American strategy and foreign policy should be to look out for American interests, not the interests of the UN, IAEA, Iran, Syria...well you get the idea.