By Zalson Khor Dhaal
Half millenium and counting, Machiavielli is preying South Sudan.
‘Of all the writers in the ”realists” canon. . .it is Nicoolo Machavieli who retains the greatest capacity to shock’-STEWART Patrick. I concur.
When little known Nicoolo was ousted from Florence in 1513, he wrote -THE PRINCE, so far, his flagship, drafted to aid then and future leaders in their statecraft. Machavieli, as recounted by Stewart, gave this advise.
‘first and foremost fundementally,do whatever is necessary to preserve your power and secure your state. Be aware of causing others to become powerful, or of joining forces with a more powerful state. For you will only bring a ruin on yourself.’
This was a floodgate into grim world he envisioned. The leader, so to speak, must do anything, use anytool anywhere with whomever, regardless of what, how you feel about it to preserve power primarily. Is it a road worth travelling? Prof. Alfred Sebit Lokuji strongly disagreed. The answer does not bode well for that treacherous action: it is a categorical NO. He said. Without meddling into the details, this sounds familiar. Doesn’t it?
‘Second, be skilled in warfare, ” the only art expected from a ruler”. Keep the state on perpetual war footing and maintain sufficient arms and soldiers to secure your realm from outside aggressors and internal rivals.’
Round up and recruit in record numbers, even if it means dragging kids forcefully out of school classrooms, while intimidating unwilling parents. Machavieli is not done yet. It is getting more brutal. Read on please read on.
‘ Treat ” peace” as nothing more than breathing space to prepare for another conflict. Ignore just war theory. A war is ”just” when it is necessary. No more no less’
Many South Sudan activists (Jon pens, Majeeps etc), and friends of South Sudan have spoken exhaustively about unwillingness of leaders to implement peace agreement. I will not waste a valuable space here. So allow me introduce you the last point.
‘Third, use deception as a central element of your statecraft. Mask your true intentions, and remain faithful to your pledges only as long as they are in your interest. Remember that others will be false to you, unless you ensure that their falsehoods do not pay. Be aware of surrounding yourself with powerful subordinates. Keep your own counsel and listen only to few advisors. Eliminate victorious generals and keep the nobles weak and divided.’
I am somewhat at a loss here to explain the entire episode. At this point, I believe you can figure out by yourself whether or not South Sudan political practitioners plucked out a page or two in Nicoolo’s infamous book. How I wish uncle Chol Moong hear this. His advise to successful generals? ‘Kom nin abii ping ku Kom yen abii daai’. Fake version is: your ears on the ground and be very vigilant. Before I leave it to you all to make sense of it, he concludes with shocks unparalleled:
‘Employ both cruelty and kindness as the situation warrants, recognising that it is better to be feared than loved by your subjects, if you cannot be both. When meting out injury, do it abruptly and severely to prevent retaliation. Where possible, let others do the dirty work, for you can subsequently gain favor by cutting their heads off.’
Aw! Machaveli is absofuckinglutely amoral. (Sorry for kids reading out there). Very absurd, evil, wicked, and you could even add that the whole lot is not fair for those poor guys who were carrying out orders from their superior. Amazingly, the illustration flagrantly depicts South Sudan today.
Excuse my damn ears. So, the leader can wipe out in a minute, all the cumulative mess by: a), dragging those who are accused to have committed reprehensible crimes to the holy grail Hybrid Court. b), handing them over further away to the ICC and c), liquidating entirely his own right-hand men working on his orders-to silence his rivals and cow away those who dare. Gone!
Sure you understand how scapegoating game works: heap all the dirts on your subordinates/officers and then in a stunning fashion, sacrifice them to appease your gods. Hold your breath. Here is a bomb. In doing so, s/he is finally exonerated and showed with praises. Is it happening, going to happen, has happened? Don’t be mad. I don’t know. Not sure.
President Kiir is on record condemning doom predictors. He is right. No need to. If prologue is any guide however, the prognostications are, as far as eyes could see, remotely looking good for known ”unknown gunmen”.
Listen to this. I love it.
‘When doling out benefits, do so gradually, so that they taste better’
Sort of dangling glitters on your face, flirting with juicy stuff as promotions or huge ‘once and for all’, pay checks incentives to Members of Parliament, hence keeping their tongues within the confine of their mouths shut. Given at the time they can not say no (During Economic meltdown). Only one Cde. Atem Garang Kuek was in-charge of his intestinal moral fortitude:
One is Many.
‘At all costs, avoid becoming an object of contempt. A ruler’s best fortress to not be hated by his people.’
Sorry. We arrived there, went through it and passed this mark sometimes around late 2012 and early 2013 when hell broke loose.
Hatred by far is the dominant political element today, born out of endless frustrations shortly after independence, between leaders boxed in their vainly thin cohort cycles and non-tribal vast majority of resilient, patriotic citizens.
The fault is not Dinka, not Bahr El Ghazal either: a fact even distinguished interlectuals intentionally refused to accept, but a small number working overtime at the cover of darkness to survive.
Therefore, this whole notion of treading along crashing anything, by whichever means necessary in the name of statecraft is dangerously misleading. It is also subject to abuse and misinterpretation at the centre of power.
Apple I like. It’s edible, it’s tasty, but I’m not buying it. Why? I viewed Machaveli’s relevancy in our modern time with a dual goggles of disappointment and disbelief, mindful of our deserved struggle for equity.
What is more, looking at ancient European history to memorable African tragedy in retrospect, no leader has ever charm out a snake from its hole, but slaying opponents has not been a successful strategy to securing political power.
Just one example. Reign of Terror would have avoided horror. French Robespieres arrested 400,000 people, which resulted into 250,000 gallotined- enough to abruptly short-circuit people’s demand for fairer society for all. Invariably, such treatment only re-enforces people’s tenacity to continue to make inroads in their quest.
Let’s put this to rest. Most governments collapsed not because they didn’t subject their citizens to the harshest conditions image. Rather, they collapsed because: 1. their power overreached outside well demarcated boundaries becomes unbearable. 2. Something is rotten at the belly of their internal system.
It is when one feels everythings is under control, that emerges real chances of being complacently cocky, yet there lies an apparent slit to downfalls. Never rush to uncorked a bottle of cork. . . Devil is lurking in the air.