Thursday, April 22, 2004

Another sexually active and occasionally Irish Tory

Out of nowhere today, Andrew Sullivan springs Lord Palmerston on his reading public. In a post entitled Memo to Zapatero (he'd already used up quote of the day for today), he offers the following from the lord:

If a nation once establishes and proclaims as its rule of conduct, that any sacrifice of interest is preferable to war, it had better at once abdicate its independence and place itself under the protection of some less Quakerlike state; for to that condition of subjection it must come at last, and it is better to get to it decently and at once than to arrive at it painfully after successive humiliations, and all the the losses and sufferings resulting from repeated spoilations

which apart from its dig at the Quakers is typical of what must be thousands of quotes that one could find having made the decision to label one's opponents as appeasers. So why on earth reach deep into the history books for Palmerston? Could it be that there is something broader about Lord Palmerston that makes him a suitable ally for Lord Provincetown? Let's collect some key elements of the former's biography to see what might be relevant:

Although Palmerston had the support of most of Parliament, he was strongly disliked by Queen Victoria. Palmerston believed the main objective of the government's foreign policy should be to increase Britain's power in the world. This sometimes involved adopting policies that embarrassed and weakened foreign governments.

Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, Hosni Mubarak, and King Abdullah know that problem.


Queen Victoria also objected to Palmerston's sexual behaviour. On one occasion he had attempted to seduce one of Victoria's ladies in waiting. Palmerston entered Lady Dacre's bedroom while staying as Victoria's guest at Windsor Castle. Only Lord Melbourne's intervention saved Palmerston from being removed from office.

We suppose the modern equivalent is getting caught in an embarrassing situation on the web [Follow the link in this Sullywatch post]

Palmerston even had a vision of making the field of conflict in a faraway place, a favourite rationale of Sullivan's for the war in Iraq:

[Palmerston's] attitude, as expressed in a letter to John Hobhouse, was prophetic:
It seems pretty clear that, sooner or later, the Cossack and the Seypoy, the man from the Baltic and he from the British Isles will meet in the centre of Asia. It should be our business to take care that the meeting should take place as far off from our Indian possessions as may be convenient and advantageous to us. But the meeting will not be avoided by our staying at home to receive the visit.

But the biographies can't resist returning to Palmerston's love-life; even as he supported harsh military action overseas (in one case, to "bring John Chinaman to his bearings"), one of his nicknames was "Lord Cupid." Make love AND war. Now there's a role model for the War on Terror.

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