The Scientific Indian

Machiavelli must be shot

because he is the archetype of all those who hold that end justifies means. Wearing Machiavelli’s shoes comes World-is-Flat-and-Black-and-White Mr Friedman, madly dancing with his column in NY Times on the recent gaza flare-up. Read Glenn Greenwald’s criticism to restore some balance to this garbage from Mr Friedman.


  1. #1 Hopefully Anonymous
    January 15, 2009

    One can criticize Mr. Friedman without making what seems here to be a slam on consequentialism. Your post doesn’t seem to live up to the premise of being a “science blog”.

  2. #2 Cannonball Jones
    January 15, 2009

    So Friedman reckons inflicting massive civilian casualties is acceptable as long as it’s done in the name of teaching Hamas a lesson? Does that mean he condones 9/11? Boils down to the same thing really, the only question being whether or not you agree with the ‘lesson’. What an evil piece of scum that man is.

    (I’m not in any way condoning 9/11 myself, it just looks like an interesting parallel to what Friedman says)

  3. #3 outeast
    January 15, 2009

    Cannonball, this is exaxctly the suggestion that Greenwald makes – and to some extent at least you are both being disingenuous.

    Friedman’s argument is highly disputatious both morally and pragmatically, but you are failing to engage with it by ignoring the key point that Hamas (like Hezbollah) uses ‘civilian shields’ to (attempt to) render itself impervious to conventional attack. Because of this, any comparison to Al-Qaida (or to, say, the IRA) is invidious.

    Additionally, he is not arguing from a ‘teach them a lesson’ perspective but from a pragmatic one: his idea is that by ignoring the human shields and simply allowing civilian casualties (traditionally a part of war, and only recently unfashionable) civilians themselves will cease to tolerate being used in this way. Yes, there are moral objections (obviously); and yes, there are pragmatic issues (mainly to do with radicalizing the population). But engage with those, not some infantile ‘teach ’em a lesson’ strawman.

  4. #4 Cannonball Jones
    January 15, 2009

    I was only going by what he himself said, fair enough it’s a simplification but the point still stands. And just because Hamas surrounds itself with civilians does not give Israel the right to attack said civilians in order to get to their targets. In any case it seems from the news reports that the Palestinian public are becoming more radicalised and angry thanks to Israel’s tactics, therefore more likely to continue to support Hamas.

    “traditionally a part of war, and only recently unfashionable” – I find that a pretty disgusting sentiment – maybe you meant it to sound different, I’ll accept that. Civilian casualties are merely unfashionable? That clearly implies that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it and it may become acceptably ‘fashionable’ in the future. My whole point is that there is never any excuse to target civilians and anyone who does so deserves the harshest punishment. Yes, that goes for Hamas too.

  5. #5 D
    January 15, 2009

    Obviously you aren’t being literal, but your recommendation is precisely an instance of what you decry 🙂

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