Princes and democratic majorities are drunk with power. They must reluctantly admit that they are subject to the laws of nature. But they reject the very notion of economic law. Are they not the supreme legislators? Don't they have the power to crush every opponent? No war lord is prone to acknowledge any limits other than those imposed on them by a superior force... In fact, economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics." Mises 1998, 67)
Machiavellian political machinations are quite common these days. The bolder (or more ruthless) the politician, the closer they get to implementing the lessons Machiavelli himself laid out in The Prince.
The Prince, of course, is all about how to gain and hold dictatorial power. It's not a book that promotes democracy, nor does it really pay much attention to broader concerns - certainly not the ones that have emerged with globalization.
If you follow the threads of history back, you'll be surprised how many modern conflicts have their roots in Machiavellian political machinations. To crush today's foes, we arm tomorrow's opponents. We "pick fights" as though we're gods on high, completely removed from the ground-level consequences.
You might suggest today's conservative leaders - like that Machievelli fan, Stephen Harper - are utterly respecting the law of economics, and therefore are breaking the cycle. You'd be wrong, both on the economics front, but even more importantly on the behavioural economics front. We're seeing the slow and steady fallout from the increased centralization of power, neglect of evidence and the downloading of consequence and responsibility.
And winter is coming.