Machiavelli sheds light on Iraq crises, Pollard Case

Eugene Narrett, PhD - Metrowest Daily News, Boston - November 19, 1998

(May be reprinted with appropriate accrediataion)

The essay "Morals of a Prince" made the name Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)a synonym for cynical cunning. Four hundred years before the 20th century applied Nietzsche's ideas on the "transvaluation of values," the aristocratic Florentine inverted the meaning of moral contrasts like mercy and cruelty, stinginess and generosity, honesty and deceit. Although Machiavelli may have meant his work as a satire, its paean to manipulative self-interest still illumines the methods of rulers, as in the ongoing imbroglio regarding Iraq.

Mr. Clinton has been making brave speeches again, demanding Saddam comply with UN inspectors and fretting about "the credibility of the United Nations Security Council." In February he was downright apocalyptic. "What if Saddam fails to comply and we fail to act, or take some ambiguous third route? He will rebuild his arsenal and someday, I guarantee you, he'll use it." Clinton pledged to apply military force if Saddam barred UNSCOM inspectors.

Macchiavelli observed that people "are so simple of mind and so much dominated by their immediate needs that a deceitful ruler will always find many to deceive." Bill Clinton has made a career of this situation.

On August 6, Saddam rebuffed inspectors led by Major Scott Ritter. At Clinton's direction, inspections were postponed and then canceled. When Ritter told the press that his team had cracked Saddam's weapon shuttle system only to be hamstrung from above, Clinton had the CIA smear the Major, and the FBI threaten to indict him.

The credibility of the UN indeed has been destroyed by Kofi Anan's pampering of Saddam Hussein and by President's Clinton's betrayal of the inspectors upon whose behalf he piously declaims at press conferences, pursuing the "ambiguous third route" he himself decried in February. Billions of tax dollars are spent on peripatetic fleet maneuvers and paltry missile strikes. As for America's credibility in the '90s, Iraq's Vice President commented, "we do not fear the threats of the United States because it has been threatening us for six years."

The interminable bad joke of the Executive Branch's Iraq policy underlies an issue that surfaced at the close of the Wye summit. At that time the press echoed administration claims that the proposed release of Jonathan Pollard almost torpedoed the deal. This fraud was a textbook illustration of Macchiavelli's words on gullibility and deceit.

Both Palestinian and Israeli sources since have confirmed that it was Mr. Clinton himself who early in the talks suggested Pollard's release. The matter was dropped until the wee hours on Friday, October 23 when Arafat proposed Pollard's release in exchange for Israel releasing 750 terrorists and waiving extradition of Gazi Jabali, head of the PA 'police' and organizer of numerous terrorist attacks. Netanyahu agreed but later that morning Clinton reneged when the CIA vetoed the deal. Therein hangs a tale.

Israel's 1981 bombing of Saddam's nuclear reactor at Osirak incensed then CIA chief, Admiral Bobby Ray Inman who with George Schultz and Caspar Weinberger told the Senate that Israel had harmed "sophisticated efforts to build an important relationship with Saddam." Although Pollard had nothing to do the Osirak bombing, former Defense Secretary Weinberger carried this grudge against Israel (as well as angry feelings about his mixed religious background) with him when he intervened in the Pollard trial with a secret memo falsely alleging treason and insisting that Pollard must never be released.

Boston University Professor of International Relations, Angelo Codevilla who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 1980s has written that Pollard "was punished for the worst possible sin in Washington, being right before his time. Our policy of aiding Iraq was disastrous. The authors of that policy were Inman, Schultz and Weinberger" who oversaw "providing Iraq with US weapons and intelligence."

Professor Codevilla made clear that the information on Iraqi weapons Pollard gave Israel had nothing to do with US security. Indeed, it was routinely shared and portions of it had been withheld only by Inman's pique.

Yet Pollard is still in jail after 13 years, still being slandered for crimes committed by Aldrich Ames. By contrast, Abdelkader Helmy an Egyptian who stole American warhead technology leading to the deaths of several dozen America soldiers during the Gulf War was deported without a prison sentence.

"Those who craftily manipulate the minds of men in the end win out over those who act honestly," Machiavelli wrote, as if previewing our elections. "The prince must be a great liar and a hypocrite." While Mr. Clinton poses as a compassionate statesman, Jonathan Pollard rots in jail and Iraq's democratic opposition is infiltrated and betrayed by the CIA. Thus the Florentine's assessment of politics and human weakness is verified. "Everyone sees what you seem to be," he wrote, "few know what you really are, and those few dare not take a stand against general opinion, supported by the majesty of [government] power."

So it goes. Clinton's Iraq policy veers like a drunk on an icy sidewalk while 'a herd of independent minds' analyze the staggering. The mad lead the blind as made-for-the-media circuses stupefy an amnesiac public.

Eugene Narrett, PhD is a columnist and teaches writing & Literature at Boston University.

  • See Also: The Admiral Bobby Ray Inman Page