The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


Metternichean Principles of Statecraft

Filed under: Foreign PolicyIsrael’s Sovereignty — eidelberg @ 7:44 am Edit This

Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich (1773 – 1859) was a German-Austrian politician and statesman and was one of the most important diplomats of his era. Henry Kissinger wrote his doctoral dissertation on Metternich.

As Metternich saw, to expect the leaders of a dictatorship (such as the Fatah- or Hamas-led Palestinian Authority) to be moderate is like asking them to destroy the foundation of their existence. What follows are some Metternichean principles of statecraft extracted from his writings:

(1) Any plan conceived in moderate terms must fail when the circumstances are set in the extreme. In any situation where each of the possible lines of action involves difficulty, the strongest line is the best.

(2) Compromise is the easy refuge of irresolute or unprincipled men. Of course compromise is appropriate when dealing with temporary and partial interests. But a nation’s survival is not a matter of compromise.

(3) Nations with democratic forms of government are not for that reason the natural allies of each other or the implacable foes of dictatorships.

(4) In this age of publicity the first concern of government must be this: not only to be right, but, even more important, to see that everything is called by its right name.

(5) Weaker states can ill-afford merely to react to events; they must also try to initiate them.

(6) We must rely for the execution of our plans on ourselves alone and on such means as we possess.

(7) When called upon to handle important matters, the statesman must tackle them vigorously. For this to happen it is necessary that the course decided upon should not only be clear in the eyes of the Cabinet, but should also be made clear in the eyes of the public.