There was a time when it was popular and common for Britain to send a gunboat to places where the locals were up to no good or adopting policies not welcome in London, the two are not the same.
The message was "watch it sunshine there's more where that came from". Because if the locals insisted on opposing Britain there was a large navy on hand and always several battalions of troops in barracks ready to be sent with them.
Often it was persuasion that worked, they would come to heel or a deal reached. Sometimes the heavy hint was not taken and surely enough an expedition would be sent. Many places in the world have in their histories a British military visitation to remember.
When our government proudly claims it is "doing something" we ought to be very wary. It might be popular with some, it might get the press excited and on side, it might look decisive, brave and determined but in the early 21st century it is a loser poker player trying to make good his debts with a busted flush.
We have a legacy nuclear capability dependent on the USA, a Royal Navy probably now unable to police our own coastline fully and an Army also dependent on foreign supply and too small and too little equipped to engage in any large or lasting campaign.
That ministers can suggest "putting forces on the ground" to deal with ISIS or ISIL and the threats from the Middle East without realising that it can be only a short hit and run raid at best. Others claim we should be tackling opposition spread over wide areas of land and in serious numbers which is basically idiocy.
It is what I like to call a Fort Zanderneuf policy if you recall the story of "Beau Geste" if not see Wikipedia. It is all very well to have a disaster as a matter of honour and style and to be able to blame others but when applied to dealing with a large, complicated and determined enemy it is inviting losses and reactions in scale.
In that story the fight was taken to the enemy territory, today the enemy may not be there but somewhere else. Notably, it is in Europe and in our own back yard where they have been made welcome. In order to make them concede our politicians invite them to tea on the House of Commons terrace, a fete worse than death so to say.
So David Cameron doing a Sergeant Major Lejaune after a bad night on the cheap plonk routine and urging his handful of men onward to greater efforts is asking to lose the next general election to the Labour Party.
Given the present state of our politics it would be an astonishing achievement and history would mark him down as the UK's last and biggest loser.