“And it must be understood that a prince … cannot observe all those things which are considered good in men, being often obliged, in order to maintain the state, to act against faith, against charity, against humanity, and against religion. And, therefore, he must have a mind disposed to … be able to do evil if necessitated.”
So wrote Niccolo Machiavelli in the 16th century, marking out the painful necessity of those entrusted with governance and the good of the state to at times sacrifice their own integrity to serve and benefit that state.
Was Machiavelli right? That’s for greater thinkers than myself to debate. But by following his recommendations today, we run the risk of losing sight of the point of being human.
All this is leading up to the subject of the U.S.’s Kurdish allies in Syria. Once called America’s “boots on the ground” there, the Kurdish people have more and greater value than as simply another U.S. military asset.
The Kurdish plight if the U.S. withdraws from Syria could be dire. They are already an oppressed minority in Syria; now, with Islamic State and Turkey pressing them, they may be forced to cut a deal with the ever-admirable Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian despot who in recent years has made war on his own people in the cruelest, most disgusting manner. If allied with Assad, the Syrian Kurds will lose their territory and be swallowed up.
The U.S. cannot abandon its Kurdish allies to such a fate. This nation and this president must look past the ends of their own noses and protect this vulnerable group.
So perhaps I have weighed in on Machiavelli’s words after all. Signore, you may be correct, but you are not right.