Wednesday, March 05, 2014

68 Years Ago Today: Churchill Warns About Soviet Expansion. Today, Who Listens as the Lesson is Repeated?

Would Obama, who banished the bust of Sir Winston, listen?

On March 5, 1946 former Prime Minister Winston Churchill was escorted to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri by President Harry S. Truman. In Fulton, Churchill delivered the now famous "Iron Curtain" speech which served as a warning call to check Soviet expansion following the end of World War II.

Churchill, famous for being the one politician of any stature to warn time and again of the dangers of Nazi expansion prior to World War II, warned a complacent and war weary American public of the danger coming from Moscow. He didn't fail to mention that had his warnings been heeded in the 1930's there might never have been a war and millions of lives would have been saved.

Think about his words today in the context of renewed Russian expansion and consider the warning that we should not wait to block Russian aggression until once again it is too late to avoid war.

Winston Churchill speaks as President Harry Truman, seated to Churchill's right, smiles.

Full audio of the Fulton speech is here. The text, originally titled "The Sinews of Peace" is here. A five minute film excerpt (poor quality) is here. Learn more about Winston Churchill at the Churchill Centre.

An excerpt from Churchill's speech 68 years ago should read like an instruction manual for handling today's crisis with Russia:
I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable; still more that it is imminent. It is because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the opportunity to do so. I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here to-day while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement.

What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become.

From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness. For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength. If the Western Democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, their influence for furthering those principles will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. If however they become divided or falter in their duty and if these all-important years are allowed to slip away then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all.

Last time I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind. There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous and honoured to-day; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. We surely must not let that happen again.
 Churchill formed a world view based on the unpleasant reality of the history he witnessed firsthand. He didn't develop his thinking based on distortions he was taught in a college classroom or a left wing political party. History proved he was on the right side and had he been listened to the world would have been spared great horror on a scale never before seen.

Today, we have a leader in the White House whose world view is based solely on a corrupt left wing ideology which seeks to blame the United States and rejects Churchill and Reagan's "peace through strength" prescription. Obama was inculcated with those views at Columbia University and eagerly parroted them in a student publication. There is no indication he's grown out of those warped views. Quite the contrary.

Churchill gave us the road map for preserving peace. It's not an easy road but the cost is certainly much less than a shooting war. Most of all it requires strong and clear headed leadership and a willingness to back up that leadership with unequaled military, economic and diplomatic muscle. What a shame we don't have such leadership or muscle today and our evident weakness only invites war!

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