Wednesday, November 22, 2006

On Being Feared Rather Than Loved

Two reports today confirm the truth of Machiavelli's maxim.

Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.

First the US INS:

The survey of visitors from 16 countries showed that the US was ranked "the worst" in terms of visas and immigration procedures by 39 per cent, twice as many as the next destination considered unfriendly, the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

More than half of those surveyed said US immigration officials were rude and two thirds said they feared they would be detained on arrival for benign mistakes in paperwork or for saying the wrong thing to Customs and Border Protection staff, whose motto is Vigilance, Service and Integrity. The DAP said travel to the US from countries other than Mexico and Canada was down 17 per cent from its high in 2000.

In my experience, US Immigration officials have been surly for decades, although less so than their German counterparts. And once you're through US immigration, the natives are friendly, whereas your immigration experience is often the high point of your visit to Germany.

But even if the INS is the surliest in the world, so what? It's likely that the increasing harassment at immigration has prevented more 9/11s, in which case losing 17% of (non Mexican!) visitors is cheap at the price.

Next Israel:

Israel is the worst 'brand' in the world, according to a poll that measured the international perception of 36 nations in a quarterly index.

The Index surveyed over 25,000 online consumers across 35 countries about their perceptions of those countries across six areas of national competence: Investment and Immigration, Exports, Culture and Heritage, People, Governance and Tourism.

Israel was ranked last, coming in after countries such as Indonesia (34), Egypt (29) and China (19). The United Kingdom was ranked first, followed by Germany and Italy.

Israel's lowest scores gave from Egypt, who ranked Israel at the bottom of the list in all categories, save contributions to science and technology.

Surprisingly, the Russians gave Israel its highest scores in almost all categories.

You'd have to be very ignorant to rank democratic, history-soaked, beautiful, post-industrial Israel below the brutal and corrupt third world dictatorship of Indonesia. So the respondents are just expressing dislike stemming from fear.

Machiavelli would recognize this as a perfect example of his maxim - Israel survives only by causing its overt Muslim enemies and covert European enemies to fear it.