Obama Proves he is Not Machiavellian
The way the Libya Kinetic Military Action is unfolding, President Obama at least is showing that he is not the Machiavellian many critics have charged.
Machiavelli had a number of suggestions for "princes".
One was, if you decide to attack the king, make sure you kill him and don't just wound him. Wounded kings are dangerous.
President Obama has ignored that advice all right. We are in Libya merely "to protect civilians" and, while saying, "Gaddafi must go," we are not planning to use force to get rid of him. Just wound him, as it were.
Another Machiavellian lesson is that undertakings for real change are difficult, because the people who don't want change will recognize the threat and resist with all their might, while those who stand to benefit will tend to be less motivated to action.
In Libya, we are undertaking real change--if not "Change You Can Believe In"--and that has fully mobilized Gaddafi and his forces, while not especially motivating us, apparently. The President apparently thought it was all going to be easy. We'll be there "days, not weeks," he said two weeks ago.
The third pertinent Machiavellian principle is that when you must choose between a majority and a minority, choose the majority, of course, unless the minority is more intensely committed than the majority; for in that case the intensity of feelings of the few often overcomes the advantages of numbers.
Here again, Mr. Obama has shown he is not Machiavellian. He has stirred up our enemies, who are a minority in the Libyan population, and left the majority of Libyans--who presumably support the rebels--to, well, arm themselves.
In domestic affairs, we get Chicago-style politics from Mr. Obama. In Libya we get United Nations resolutions.