Montesquieu
 

IX.4 How despotic states provide for their security

As repu­blics pro­vide for their secu­rity by uni­ting, des­po­tic sta­tes do so by sepa­ra­ting and kee­ping them­sel­ves, in a man­ner of spea­king, sepa­rate. They sacri­fice part of the coun­try, ravage the bor­der­lands and leave them bar­ren ; the body of the empire beco­mes inac­ces­si­ble.

It is accep­ted in geo­me­try that the more exten­sion bodies have, the smal­ler, rela­ti­vely, is their cir­cum­fe­rence. This prac­tice of laying waste to the bor­der­lands is the­re­fore more tole­ra­ble in large sta­tes than in medium-sized ones.

This state does to itself all the damage that a cruel enemy could do, but an uns­top­pa­ble enemy.

The des­po­tic state pre­ser­ves itself through ano­ther sort of sepa­ra­tion, which comes from pla­cing dis­tant pro­vin­ces in the hands of a prince who is its vas­sal. The Mogol, Persia, and the empe­rors of China have their vas­sals ; and the Turks were well advi­sed to place the Tartars, the Moldavians, the Walachians, and for­merly the Transylvanians bet­ween their ene­mies and them­sel­ves.