The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Wednesday’s Maxim

June 29, 2005

President Bush’s address on Iraq made choosing today’s maxim very difficult. Many of Guicciardini’s maxims put a different spin on the speech, and particularly about what people are writing about its strengths and weaknesses. So, given a wealth of possibilities, I have settled on this one:

If you are involved in important affairs or are seeking power, you must always hide your failures and exaggerate your successes. It is a form of swindling and very much against my nature. But, since your fate more often depends upon the opinion of others than on facts, it is a good idea to create the impression that things are going well. The opposite reputation will be harmful to you (Series C, 86).

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.