October 15, 2008 10:52PM

Nothing New Under the Sun

Remember the "Ledeen Doctrine" that Jonah Goldberg used to promote the Iraq War? ( It's unavailable for some reason on the National Review website Here it is on NRO ):

Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.

It turns out that aside from the strategic and moral bankruptcy of the doctrine, it isn't even original to Ledeen or Goldberg:

These half-civilized Governments such as those of China, Portugal, Spanish America, all require a dressing down every eight or ten years to keep them in order. Their minds are too shallow to receive an impression that will last longer than some such period and warning is of little use. They care little for words and they must not only see the stick but actually feel it on their shoulders before they yield to that argument which brings conviction.

That's Lord Palmerston in 1850, addressing the House of Commons, as cited in Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire.