Winston Churchill, who was probably the greatest wartime leader of the 20th century, was a man of vision, but more importantly he was a man of action. He also had that rare ability to communicate his ideas and inspire an entire nation at a time when that nation could have easily doubted itself in the face of many grave dangers.
Mark Twain said that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. This is so true. Today I post Part I of a speech Mr. Churchill gave warning of the great danger posed by Hitler’s rise and the rearmament of Germany in the hopes that a study of the past can help us decide how to approach our future.
When we look around the world today, it is a still a very dangerous place. Iran may soon have a nuclear weapons. Pakistan and North Korea already have them. Russian Dictator Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by his unlawful occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which received little opposition from the Western Powers. The world-wide Jihadi movement is on the rise. These are just a few of the many serious problems the free world faces today and going forward.
Who will rally the forces for good in the face of all this? It would be well for the Western leaders who are wondering how to deal with these problems to study history, study winners like Winston Churchill, who understood how to meet the challenges of their day. The guiding principles for keeping America safe are no different in 2014 than they were for Great Britain in 1938.
Frotho (My 100th post!)
Mr. Churchill’s Speech before The Free Trade Hall, Manchester, May 9, 1938.
I have felt it my duty to make exertions, so far as I can, to rouse the country in the face of an ever-growing danger. This is no campaign against the Government of the day, nor against the Opposition. It is not intended to promote the interests of any Party, or to influence the course of any Election. All Parties, Conservative, Liberal, Labor, Socialist, are on the platform. Church and Chapel, Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Gentile, have come together. Trade Union leaders, Co-operators, merchants, traders, industrialists, those who are reviving the strength of our Territorial forces, those who are working on A.R.P. none have felt themselves debarred.
But what is the purpose which has brought us all together? It is the conviction that the life of Britain, her glories and message to the world, can only be achieved by national unity, and national unity can only be preserved upon a cause which is larger than the nation itself. However we may differ in political opinion, however divergent our Party interests, however diverse our callings and stations, we have this in common: We mean to defend our Island from tyranny and aggression, and so far as we can, we mean to hold out a helping hand to others who may be in even more immediate danger than at this moment we are ourselves. We repudiate all ideas of abject or slothful defeatism. We wish to make our country safe and strong – she can only be safe if she is strong – and we wish her to play her part with other Parliamentary democracies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in warding off from civilization, while time yet remains, the devastating and obliterating horrors of another world war.
We wish to see inaugurated a reign of international law, backed, as it must be in these turbulent times, by ample and, if possible, super abundant strength.
At this moment in history the broad, toiling masses in every country have for the first time the opportunity of a fuller and less burdened life. Science is at hand to spread a more bountiful table than has ever been offered to the millions and to the tens of millions. Shorter hours of labor, greater assurances against individual misfortune: a wider if a simpler culture: a more consciously realized sense of social justice: an easier and a more equal society these are the treasures which, after all these generations and centuries of impotence and confusion, are now within the reach of mankind.
Are these hopes, are these prospects, are all the secrets which the genius of man has wrested from Nature, to be turned by tyranny, aggression and war only to his own destruction? Or are they to become the agencies of a broadening freedom, and of an enduring peace? Never before has the choice of blessings or curses been so plainly, vividly, even brutally offered to mankind. The choice is open. The dreadful balance trembles. It may be that our Island and all the Commonwealths it has gathered around it may if we are worthy play an important, perhaps even a decisive part in turning the scales of human for tune from bad to good, from fear to confidence, from miseries and crimes immeasurable to blessings and gains abounding.
We make ourselves the servants of this cause, but it is no use espousing a cause without having also a method and a plan by which that cause may be made to win. I would not affront you with generalities. There must be the vision. There must be a plan, and there must be action following upon it.
To be continued…