Tag Archives: the persian letters

Montesquieu reads Mitt

“Je ne sais comment il arrive qu’il n’y a presque jamais de prince si méchant, que son ministre ne le soit encore davantage; s’il fait quelque action mauvaise, elle a presque toujours été suggérée : de maniéré que l’ambition des princes n’est jamais si dangereuse, que la bassesse d’âme de ses conseillers.”

“I don’t know how that happens that there is almost never a prince as nasty as his ministers; if the prince undertakes some underhanded, dirty dealing, it was almost always suggested to him: the ambition of princes is never as dangerous as the base characters of his advisers.”

-Letter 127, The Persian Letters, Montesquieu

Still trying to figure this Mitt Romney guy out? You’re not alone. I think he’s still trying to figure himself out, too.

In a week when both Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave blustering speeches at the UN, you might want to consider Romney’s foreign policy team, which is spearheaded by Dan Senor and other former members of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy team.

You might want to consider Mr. Romney’s foreign policy team and the words of M. Montesquieu.

The context changes, but some words are timeless.

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Un mot de Montesquieu

“Je vois, de tous cotés, des gens qui parlent sans cesse d’eux-mêmes : leurs conversations sont un miroir qui présente toujours leur impertinence figure : ils vous parleront des moindres choses qui leur sont arrivées, et ils veulent que l’intérêt qu’ils y prennent les grossisse a vos yeux ; ils ont tout fait, tout vue, tout dit, tout pense : ils sont un modèle universel, un sujet de comparaisons inépuisable, une source d’exemples qui ne tarit jamais. Oh ! que la louange est fade, lorsqu’elle réfléchit vers le lieu d’où elle part !”

-Montesquieu, Lettre L, Les Lettres Persanes

And for the anglophones:

“All around me I see who speak incessantly of themselves: their conversation is a mirror that always reflects their own impertinent features; they will tell you of the most insignificant trifles that happen to them, apparently under the impression that the interest they take in them will increase their own importance in your eyes; they have done everything, seen everything, said everything, and thought everything; they are a model for human kind, a subject of inexhaustible comparison, a source of precedents that never runs dry. What tasteless praise that reflects the source from which it comes!”

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