Thursday, October 1, 2009

Machiavelli's lessons lost

For “men ought to be either well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot.” Moreover, “irresolute princes who follow a neutral path are generally ruined.”

These are representative precepts of Machiavelli. Our army failed to abide by them: hence they came to a sorry end in the confines of the BDR headquarters in February 2009.

Where did they go wrong?

First, they tried to keep the two begums out of Bangladesh, with the help of foreign powers: they failed.

Second, they kept the two psychopaths in jail for a year – and then had to let them go.

They should have been either well treated, or crushed.

Thirdly, the army engineered an election to give the Awami League a two-thirds majority. This was lunacy. To set the two parties against each other would have been wiser, and more credible as an election outcome.

Since the politicians had not been crushed but humiliated and allowed to win, they it was who applied Machiavelli's terrible insight: they cold-bloodedly had over fifty officers murdered and some of their wives raped, and interred, or burned. This was a brilliant Machiavellian manoeuvre: the army was mortally hurt, humiliated and disunited, the lower officers furious with the seniors for selling out the officers and women at the BDR HQ.

Can the army ever take revenge? If we go by Machiavelli's formula, not in years. But then, you never know….

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