Churchill-Finest Hour

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On the anniversary of the beginning of World War II, I recall this speech of Churchill, and his presentation, before the beginning of the Battle of Britain in 1940, of alternative futures for mankind based upon how the war came out.  For all our problems since the Allied victory in that war, the mind recoils from what the world would have been like after an Axis victory.

20 Responses to Churchill-Finest Hour

  • This is but one of many eloquent speeches delivered by Churchill.

    Quite telling that the isolationists back then relied on George Washington as their advocate to refrain from those impending events (the same from which the United States itself would historically supplant Britain as World Power), especially as concerning foreign alliances; while those who were interventionists adopted Churchill as theirs.

    It is recalled that when the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, the man actually proclaimed an automatic victory for the side of the Allies.

  • Choosing Washington’s admonition against “entangling alliances” as the rallying cry of the isolationists was especially ironic e since Washington and the other Founding Fathers won our victory in our Revolution by successfully converting a local American conflict into an Eighteenth Century World War, with fighting taking place between America and her allies and the British in all the then known Continents by the end of the war. Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America.

  • I cannot overstate enough how annoyed I get when ‘Old Right’ and libertarian conservatives are branded as ‘isolationists’ simply because they see greater consequences by military intervention.

  • Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America

    I’m confused – you say this as though it were a bad thing?

  • Which I think is Anthony’s point – as far as I can gather, paleo and libertarian conservatives are not necessarily against all foreign alliances, but only those that serve no legitimate American interest.

  • “Washington had no problem with foreign alliances as long as they served the interests of America”

    “I’m confused – you say this as though it were a bad thing?”

    No, I say this in approval. That is why I think the America Firsters prior to World War II were blind fools as it clearly was in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany as quickly as possible.

  • “No, I say this in approval. That is why I think the America Firsters prior to World War II were blind fools as it clearly was in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany as quickly as possible.”

    While it might very well have been in America’s interest to stop Nazi Germany, I would say that America sure could use some more ‘America First’ attitudes today. One of the detrimental after effects of the WWII intervention, in my opinion, was the rise of a philosophical tendency to see the United States as being responsible for global security— the ‘policeman of the world’ as it is referred. That would seem to me a perpetual ‘foreign entanglement’ without real benefit.

  • The advantage of the US being involved abroad Anthony is thus far we have avoided a World War III. I think a large reason why is the network of alliances and mutual security agreements we built up during the Cold War and which helped us gain ultimate victory in that decades long struggle by containing the Soviet Union. Foreign involvement is neither automatically good nor bad. Like many things in life it depends upon the circumstances.

  • “… I would say that America sure could use some more ‘America First’ attitudes today.”

    No doubt, a person who once himself joined in the ‘America First’ rallies of yester years.

    What’s next?

    Those from Socialist Party, U.S.A.?

    (Incidentally, might Joe Hargrave been a former member thereof?)

  • “The advantage of the US being involved abroad Anthony is thus far we have avoid a World War III.”

    Of course, we can really never know if that is true. Both World Wars occurred thanks more to deficiencies in European politics and economics than to U.S. non-interference. American intervention in WWI for example, tipped the scales in favor of France and Britain preventing them from ever having to properly work out their stalemate with Germany. If we want to talk about things that could theoretically have been avoided, Germany’s humiliation and thus WWII was quite avoidable.

    Guys like Lincoln, Churchill and Roosevelt are always heralded as heroes, but its seemed to me they were interested more in maintaining or increasing their nation’s superior place in the world over peace for the sake of…well…peace. To the former end, exacerbating and maneuvering crises is the proper strategy. The latter goal would result in political accusations of cowardice, and of course, that is not an acceptable risk.

  • “…more interested in maintaining or increasing their nation’s superior place in the world…”

    Might I introduce you to the notion of Manifest Destiny?

  • “Might I introduce you to the notion of Manifest Destiny?”

    What’s your point?

  • “Of course, we can really never know if that is true. Both World Wars occurred thanks more to deficiencies in European politics and economics than to U.S. non-interference.”

    Do you have any doubt that those deficiencies in European politics and economics would not have continued after World War II and led to another grand blood letting into which the US would have been drawn? Without a strong US backing up the West Europeans, I have no doubt that all of continental Europe would quickly have been under the sway of Stalin. Our proactive involvement in the world after World War II, God bless you Harry Truman!, avoided such a result and the inevitable conflict with the US and Britain which would have resulted.

    In regard to World War I, neither Germany nor the Allies had any intention of ending that war short of victory. I think the US was correct in its assumption that the world was better off with the western allies victorious in that war than Imperial Germany. I do not agree that German humiliation after World War I led to Hitler. The Allies made the mistake of leaving Germany powerful and unoccupied. Hitler thrived on the “Stabbed in the back myth” which was a useful fable for the Germans to latch on to and to pretend that they had not been beaten by their opponents but rather betrayed by traitors at home. After World War II no German outside of an insane asylum could pretend that Germany had not been completely defeated.

  • Our nation initially consisted a mere 12 colonies.

    Do you really insist on casting as un-heroic historical figures in history simply due to their having had interest in maintaining/increasing the nation’s superiority?

    If so, you might find a vast number of suspects in our American history, not only Lincoln and Roosevelt.

  • corrigenda: obviously, “13″; not 12.

    That’s what I get for doing too many things at the same time. Apologies.

  • Don, as much as you and I agree on fundamental matters we part ways severely on foreign affairs. You have much more of I guess what I would phrase as a ‘triumphalist’ view of American history— you admire the strong, particularly the ones willing to flex military might. If I’m incorrect in that assessment I apologize.

    I find it difficult to admire Truman, for example, a man who dropped the atomic bomb, not once but twice on the Japanese people. I do not find that fact a source of proud distinction for the United States. To me, its sad that ‘neutrality’ is not as respectable a policy position as it once was.

    “Do you really insist on casting as un-heroic historical figures in history simply due to their having had interest in maintaining/increasing the nation’s superiority?”

    I insist on having both eyes open. I wonder at times, if the people who love to love America love her accumulated power and prestige over her more humble and mundane virtues. Can it be heroic to have an interest in lifting a nation to greater accomplishments? Sure. But its not particularly heroic if that effort involves stepping over the requisite dead bodies to get there. (the Native Americans, the Southern people, the Japanese, the passengers of the Lusitania… take your controversial pick).

    So yes, I have a dimmer view of American history, and politics and power in general, that stretch further than Lincoln and Roosevelt. (I’m not a huge fan of guys like Woodrow Wilson, TR or LBJ for example) If I were to compare myself to Don, knowing what I’ve read of his posts in the past- he lives in Lincoln and Roosevelt’s America whereas my sympathies are more with the Jeffersonian line of thinking that is generally thought of as ‘fringe’ in our modern political dialogue.

  • “corrigenda: obviously, “13?; not 12.

    That’s what I get for doing too many things at the same time. Apologies.”

    so on some forum somewhere is a reference to ’13 apostles’? :)

  • I do not think I have a triumphalist view of American history. I appreciate those times when action was taken to preserve the freedom that I and my family enjoy. I believe the US did a wonderful thing in the last century in defeating those two monuments to the infinite capacity of Man for evil, fascism and communism. The US would have left the world a much darker place if it had attempted to stand on the sidelines.

    In regard to Mr. Truman I believe he was a very great President who brought one War to a swift conclusion and then laid the foundations for victory in the Cold War. The bombs, as appalling as they were, avoided an invasion of the Home Islands of Japan that would have involved many Okinawas in regard to American and Japanese casualties. Perhaps my opinion is colored by the fact that I had two uncles slated for the invasion and who believed till their dying days that the use of the bomb by Truman at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only reason they came home alive. Of course I know I will be told that this is consequentalist reasoning, but I still am very glad that my uncles came home in one piece as did hundreds of thousands Americans who were also slated for Operation Olympic, and that millions of Japanese also did not die in a futile effort to defeat the invasion, or as a result of starvation or continued bombing of their cities in the event that the invasion was postponed or cancelled and a “starve them out and bomb them out” strategy was used instead.

    Historian Richard Frank published a cogent article in 2005 as to why Truman used the bombs.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp?pg=1

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