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Machiavelli, International Law, Two China Problem, Strait of Taiwan Show of Force (1996)

Subject Categories

Conflict of Laws | International Law | Law | Law and Politics


Machiavelli leaves one with both an optimistic and a pessimistic prognostication for the post-Cold War world. On the one hand, the end of that conflict has opened the way for the spread of liberal, constitutional regimes, which he would say are inclined to be more and more meticulous in honoring their commitments. On the other, the temptation to use force to create new facts and thereby force international law into new paths will remain as long as politics is practiced. The contemporary relevance of Machiavelli may be seen in that he urged both realities upon us. I focus on a single incident that postdated the end of the Cold War—the show of force by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the Taiwan Strait in March 1996.