A Foreign Policy Machiavelli Would Love
A major power involved in a continuous conflict with a much smaller, weaker country in which the major power can never truly win or afford to lose can greatly benefit all others nations major and otherwise.
While I’m not aware that Machiavelli ever wrote anything like that, I’m sure he would agree that, as a matter of statecraft, it ranks right up there with fear. Nothing benefits other nations than having a major nation bogged down in a struggle that they can never completely win or allow a loss, but must continue bleeding their resources which would be used elsewhere against other nations. It doesn’t matter if the major nation is friend or foe, other nations can exploit the situation to their advantage.
Two centuries ago and at the beginning of the previous century, when the world’s colonial period was coming to an end, England, France, and Spain fought continuously to maintain the last of their colonies. Countries not directly involved benefited from these major countries attention being diverted in their individual struggles. The emerging U.S. economy comes to mind. England recognized what was happening in time to become Great Britain instead of just a small island that once ruled the world.
In the modern era, the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and now Iraq, hamstrings the most powerful nation in the world in dealing with other countries. Vietnam should have taught the policy wonks a lesson, but some people just will not learn. The “neo” in The Neoconservative Movement or Philosophy not only stands for “new” it also stands for neophyte when it comes to foreign policy.
The involvement of the USSR in Afghanistan may have hastens its breakup. The big communist threat of the Cold War was lessened by their involvement in Afghanistan. Eastern Europe, always under the threat of the communist hammer, was given room to breathe a little free air. The U.S. should have taken a more Machiavellian approach in aide to Afghan rebels. They should have given them just enough to harass the Russian but never enough to really drive them out. They should have never have given rebels Stinger missiles. U.S. aide to foreign rebels in Afghanistan leads directly to Al-Qaeda. Payback is a bitch.
The euro and its home, Europe, benefits while U.S. foreign policy is held captive in Iraq. They can condemn, ridicule, and laugh at the U.S. and feel good about themselves as well as benefiting their economies. They feel the naive Americans are hosted on their own idealist petards. With the concentration camp in Getmo and the stories of renditions to foreign prisons and no good ol’ American habeas corpus for any of them, world-wide critics have proof that Americans don’t practice their holier-than-thou preaching.
Of all the nations in the world, no country has benefited more by the U.S. overthrow of Saddam than Iran. The U.S. changed a neighboring threat to an opportunity for Iran to advance their religious based cause. Today, Iran has more influence in Iraq than the U.S. Shiites have come into a position they have never known before because of the U.S. takeover of Iraq. The U.S. will eventually have to leave Iraq. The Shiites never will, and have power and position not only in Iraq but in the Middle East as a whole than they ever had before. This is real historic precedents. The rest of the Islam is going to have to deal with the rise of the Shiites – courtesy of a naïve foreign policy by the U.S.
Russia struggling to find itself after the breakup of the USSR benefits from the U.S. involvement in Iraq. With the U.S. stuck in Iraq, Russia has the liberty to take chances and do things it might not be able to do. We’ve not heard the last of Russia. One day in the not to distant future, Russia will be just a powerful and influential as the USSR ever was.
With Iran at odds with the U.S., Russia can make inroads with Iran that might not be available otherwise. Who knows, perhaps Russia’s and Iran’s entanglements may lead to one of those detrimental struggles of which this post is about. If that happens, I hope the U.S. will not make another foreign policy blunder as it did in Afghanistan.
The rise of China has benefited by the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. While the U.S. loses friends and influence, China gains what the U.S. is losing. The new world order includes the economic powerhouse China. The question is will China be able to avoid the same pitfalls other major nations have continuously fallen into. Will China follow the path of other powerful nations? Will it become bogged down in some small war that will bleed its growing economy and ability to wield power elsewhere?
China has been involved with a debilitating struggle, although its distraction was with itself and not another country. The Culture Revolution benefited everybody except China. A fact the Chinese leadership is well aware and will not allow that to happen again. If it had not been for the Culture Revolution, China would be where it is today twenty years ago. Perhaps fate will give China a small war in which they can never win and cannot afford to lose.
We could all breathe easier if that happened, and hopefully the Neocons will not be in control of American’s foreign policy and cooler more Machiavellian heads will prevail.