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kineneb's Journal
Posted by kineneb in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Oct 21st 2007, 03:34 AM
since I just finished reading (deep irony time)The Prince by Machiavelli, here is a piece of sage advice from the Italian Renaissance:
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Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous. If a prince bases the defense of his state on mercenaries he will never achieve stability or security. For mercenaries are disunited, thirsty for power, undisciplined, and disloyal; they are brave among their friends and cowards before the enemy; they have no fear of God, they do not keep faith with their fellow men; they avoid defeat just so long as they avoid battle; in peacetime you are despoiled by them, and in wartime by the enemy. The reason for all this is that there is no loyalty or inducement to keep them on the field apart from the little they are paid; and this is not enough to make them want to die for you. They are only too ready to serve in your army when you are not at war; but when war comes they either desert or disperse.

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Mercenary commanders are either skilled in warfare or they are not: if they are, you cannot trust them, because they are anxious to advance their own greatness, either by coercing you, their employer, or by coercing others against your own wishes. If, however the commender is lacking in prowess,in the normal way he brings about your ruin. If anyone argues that this is true of any other armed force, mercenary or not, I reply that armed forces must be under the control of either a prince or a republic: a prince should assume personal command and captain his troops himself; a republic must appoint its own citizens, and when a commander so appointed turns out incompetent, should change him, and if he is competent, it should limit his authority by statute. Experience has shown that only princes and armed republics achieve solid success, and that mercenaries bring nothing but loss; and a republic which has its own citizen army is far less likely to be subjugated by one of its own citizens than a republic whose forces are not its own.

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Mercenary armies bring only slow, belated, and feeble conquests, but sudden, startling defeat.

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from across the centuries, advice that has not been heeded... and they keep saying that Karl Rove was influenced by Machiavelli... KR apparently didn't read the whole book, just a few quotes...
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