Machiavellian Approach to Foreign Policy: Analyzing The Prince (Part III)

Machiavelli’s primary concern in The Prince is the preservation of the ruler at the helm of a princedom. However in so doing, he could not avoid mentioning certain things that touch on foreign policy. I don’t know whether it would be accurate to speak of foreign policy at his time but with time his writing is perceived to have influenced some contemporary notions in foreign policy such as arms and warfare on international politics.

In the book, Machiavelli describes how a prince is to maintain his rule over a territory that he calls new. This territory is one that is annexed to an already existing territory which is under the prince’s dominion. One of the things that he advices a prince to do is ensure that no other dominant power settles at his borders. This is because his neighbours who are disgruntled by his rule by virtue of fear or ambition may provide this power with an opportunity to make inroads into the former’s territory.

He also prescribes that a prince ought to play protector of his feebler neighbours. He must do this without adding to their strength. This is meant to ward off any predatory prince with designs on his princedom.

Observing the American foreign policy, I am surprised to see some similarities. The Monroe Doctrine (1823) authored by president James Monroe provides a good example. Therein, the 5th US president was reiterating what George Washington, in his farewell address to congress, said. America was not going to meddle in the affairs of Europe: isolationism.

However, the Monroe Doctrine has an appendage, something more than what the 1st president had said. It created spheres of influence and America had chosen the western hemisphere. No European country was permitted to meddle in the affairs of the two American continents. Any such interference was considered an affront to the sovereignty of  the United States.

Considering that at this time Europe was at its pinnacle in power and international politics, the young American nation appears to have been justified to adopt such a position at least in Machiavelli’s eyes. The history of the US is founded on liberty and true independence and thus it would have been a big risk allowing a power of equivalent strength to stay close to her borders. It appears to me to be a vindication of  the Machiavellian thought though perhaps empirical evidence need be sought to make it conclusive.

Under this policy, America has meddled in the internal affairs of Latin American states for decades. Most of the times it played the crusader merchant of democracy and ll that is good in the world. However, a closer look at its dealings reveals a somewhat cold blooded pursuit of national interests.

Another example is the Manifest Destiny. A term coined by John Louis O’Sullivan, a journalist and diplomat, to describe the ‘divine’ right/calling of the US to expand their territory westwards. Taking into account the fact that some of these territories were in the control of great powers then e.g. Louisiana which was bought from the French, the US may have bought its security and liberty.

Finally, the Cuban Missile Crisis drives the point further home. That the US can be threatened by a power that is far was unfathomable until Cuba turned communist. This provided space for USSR to pose a real and imminent threat to the US and possibly the world as we knew it. Thus the Machiavellian idea of building some sort of empire in your backyard is not far fetched.

Machiavelli also advocates for substance in foreign policy. He heavily relies on the use of force and accordingly advises a prince that this is the only art he ought indulge in. Defending his territory from political predators is of the utmost importance for the survival of the prince at the helm.

He sees economics, population and territory as a means to an end. The end is the marshaling of a formidable army and resources that feed it. In other words, he uses the three as components to measure the ultimate power: brute force.

This idea is fueled by his political philosophy. He talks of two men, one armed and the other unarmed. In his conclusion of his analysis of the relationship between the two, he states that the armed man has an advantage over the other and there is no way he can submit to weakness. Thus a prince ought to consider the art and practice of warfare lest he be found lacking and thereby lose his dominion.

Ideas like these kindled the territorial aggrandizement fire in 18th and 19th century Europe. From Cardinal Richelieu’s raison d’être to Otto von Bismarck’s realpolitik, some striking similarities of Machiavellian foreign policy principles are replicated therein. Power struggles consumed European diplomacy which ultimately led to the two World Wars.

Today, diplomacy/international relations is not so much based on substance (military force) than it is on form (talks, treaties ect). Some scholars suggest that the advent of nuclear weapons is a game changer in the military balance of power. States with nuclear capabilities may be wary of attacking each other owing to retaliation. However this is not to say that the military of today is irrelevant.

Machiavelli is placed among the highly regarded realist thinkers of his time. His approach to political philosophy was novel. Today the world may be moving away from overt aggression; however this does not mean that in its absence there is an assumption of cooperation. States still compete today, as much as this competition is not primarily based on territory. Machiavellian foreign policy principles are still in use by states if one carefully observes their behavior.

Kenya General Election Series: Is your Candidate Qualified for the Post?

Qualification requirements are important to know after one has knowledge of the various posts that are being vied for. This article looks at the qualifications for the seats highlighted on the 18th of December 2012. If you find this information useful, please share it so that we can have an educated voter at the ballot this time. The enumeration is not predicated on any order/hierarchy of seniority. Enjoy your reading.

Before going into the specifics, there is one thing that all Kenyans must remember. All these Offices are bound by Chapter Six of the Constitution (Leadership and Integrity) as well as the Leadership and Integrity Act, Public Officers Ethics Act and other applicable laws. Therefore just because the constitution does not explicitly state law on an issue does not mean that the issue is not legislated. I urge all right minded Kenyans to seek out these pieces of legislations and read/study them in addition to the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.


Qualification [see arts 137 & 148(1)]

  1. Citizen by birth
  2. Qualified to stand election as a Member of Parliament i.e. the qualifications and disqualifications of MP Office applies
  3. Nominated by a political party or is an independent candidate
  4. Nominated by not fewer than 2000 signatures of registered voters from each of a majority of counties. This translates to 48,000 signatures since a majority of the counties would be 24/47
  5. Section 22 of the Election Act requires that the aspirant must have a degree from a recognized university in Kenya


  1. Owes allegiance to a foreign state. This means that those with dual citizenship cannot run for these offices
  2. Is a state/public officer other than the President, Deputy President or Member of Parliament


Qualification [see art 180 (2) & (5)]

  1. Eligibility for election as a member of the county assembly
  2. Section 22 of the Elections Act applies, one must have a degree from a recognized university


These State Offices are considered as a batch because they are members of parliament. Under constitution Parliament has two chambers: the National Assembly and the Senate. Women representatives are members of the National Assembly; an attempt to implement the 2/3 majority rule. Thus the requirements of article 99 of the constitution apply to all these offices.


  1. Registered voter: anyone vying for these posts and is not a registered voter cannot stand for election. Thus if your candidate is not registered voter, he/she may be locked out of the process.
  2. Compliance with moral, educational and ethical requirements: Section 13 of the Leadership and Integrity Act provides the moral and ethical requirements as follows:
    1. Demonstrate honesty in the conduct of public affairs subject to the Public Officer Ethics Act No. 4 of 2003
    2. Refrain from activities amounting to abuse of office
    3. Accurately and honestly represent information to the public
    4. Not engage in wrongful conduct in furtherance of personal benefit
    5. Not misuse public resources
    6. Not discriminate against any person except as expressly provided for under the law
    7. Not falsify records
    8. Not engage in activities that would lead the State Officer’s removal from the membership of a professional body under the law
    9. Not commit offences and in particular any of the offences under Parts XV and XVI of the Penal Code, the Sexual Offences Act, the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Act and the Children’s Act.
  3. Education requirements are to be found in section 22 of the Elections Act. The minimum requirement is a Diploma, Certificate or post secondary education requiring at least 3 months study and is recognized by the relevant ministry and in a manner prescribed by IEBC.
  4. Nomination by a political party in accordance with the Elections Act or is an Independent Candidate. In the latter case he/she must have at least 1000 signatures in the constituency or at least 2000 signatures in the county from registered voters for the National Assembly and Senatorial seats respectively.


  1. Is an undischarged bankrupt
  2. Is of unsound mind
  3. Sentenced to a jail term exceeding 6 months either at the time of registration as a candidate or election
  4. Found to have contravened chapter six or have misused or abused State/Public office.
  5. Is a State/Public Officer other than an MP
  6. Is a member of a County Assembly
  7. Not been a citizen at least 10 years preceding the elections
  8. Has been a member of IEBC or ECK (as the Ombudsman interpreted it) at any time within the five years preceding the date of election

NB: unless appellate avenues have been exhausted, an aspirant is not barred from running for these State Offices.



These are the same as those of Members of Parliament with slight variations. The difference is that Independent Candidates must garner at least 500 signatures in support of their candidature [Art. 193(1) (c) (ii)]. These signatures must be those of the members of the ward concerned as are registered voters.


These are similar to those given for Members of Parliament with the exception of number 6. The note at the end of the previous section immediately preceding this one, applies to county assembly members.

Finally, there is a general disqualification which concerns fundraising. Section 26 of the Elections Act forbids an aspirant from engaging in a fundraising directly or indirectly within 8 months preceding the election date. However, fundraising for the aspirants and party campaign are exempted.

Kenya General Election Series: I’m Registered, What Now?

The Kenyan elector’s registration exercise ends today. Records show that a little over 12 million Kenyans have registered to participate in next year’s general elections. So after the fanfare about registration what’s next?

Now Kenyans must embark on the arduous task of choosing their next leaders. Sadly, most Kenyans may not be aware of the positions available for elections. This article is meant to highlight what posts are being vied for in order to empower the many (or the few) who may not know.

There are eight categories of political posts that need occupants after March 4th 2013. These are the President/Deputy President, Governor/Deputy Governor, Senator, Member of National Assembly, Woman Representative and the County Representative. I will start with the president and work my way down. Please note that they are in no particular order.


He/She (or vice versa) will be the Head of State and Government, ideally putting an end to the grand coalition (confusion) government and the Office of the Prime Minister. The holder of this office would also be the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Kenya’s Defence Forces among other responsibilities [see Article 131 (1)]. However, this person will no longer be a Member of Parliament [Article 131 (3)] as the Constitution of Kenya 2010 introduces a Presidential form of executive government (in line with the doctrine of separation of powers).

Next year’s election will be the first of its kind in the 49 years Kenya has been independent. For the first time in Kenyan history, Kenyans will have a say on who becomes the DEPUTY PRESIDENT. Yes, the president must choose a running mate before the general elections [Article 148 (1) & (3)]. The voter’s voice will now be heard on the approval of the Deputy President. This calls a voter to consider judiciously not only the presidential candidate but the deputy presidential candidate.


Two new offices have been created in tandem with the 47 regions known as counties under the constitution of Kenya 2010. This is the office of the Governor and that of the Deputy Governor (gubernatorial offices). Hitherto, these offices did not exist and Kenyans registered to participate in next year’s election would have the privilege (or agony) of electing them for each of the counties [Article 180 (1) & (5)].

Under the constitution, the executive government is divided into two tiers: the national and county. Being part of the executive branch of government, they are the executive heads of the county government. For the sake of simplicity (hopefully not being too simplistic), they are like the president/deputy president of their respective counties. They will be responsible for certain assigned tasks under the constitution in relation to their counties.


Confusion has reigned over what role a senator plays in the new government. This post is in the legislative branch of government thus tasked with making law. A lot of people compare this post to that of governor with respect to seniority; an issue I will consider some other time.

The main task of senators is to protect the interest of counties at the national level [Article 96]. Being legislators, any law that touches on the county system must be approved by the senate house of Parliament. They are also responsible for approving amendments to the constitution. They are 47 in number (elected ones) [Article 98 (1) (a)].


Not much has changed for this category of political leadership, well other than the fact that they must pay taxes and if they increase their salaries it would take effect after the general election next following that increment [see Article 210 (3) & 116 (3) respectively]. They are tasked with making law for the nation and have the final say on all matters legislative except those touching on the county system [see Article 95 & 109 (3)]. They are 290 seats for elected ones.


Introduced to implement the 2/3 gender rule enshrined in the constitution in my opinion. They will be 47 in number and will seat in the National Assembly [Article 97 (1) (b)]. This is a move to encourage women to run for public office and participate in public decision making. A new innovative way of letting women engage in the erstwhile male dominated public domain notwithstanding the recent Judicial Opinion by the Supreme Court on the gender rule.


Finally, there are the county representatives. This office is responsible for legislative affairs of the county [Article 185 (1)]. The constitution provides duties of the national and county governments. The county governments can make law on matters within its jurisdiction like nursery schools [see Schedule Four].

These are the offices that Kenyans are entrusted to elect leaders to fill thus need be aware of. In the coming general elections, it would profit every voter to consider carefully who’s running for each post as these will be your leaders for the next five years. If you do not, then you automatically lose your moral right to complain if things do go awry.