Gratitude and history

This is from Powerline: Churchill in Five Minutes. We are an ignorant and ungrateful age though whether we are exceptional in this is hard to tell. The ingratitude for our ancestral struggles which I have been mulling over ever since driving along the Western Front during August 2014 on the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I – a conflict almost as crucial in the defence of freedom as the war that followed – has only deepened as I watch the disdain for our own past growing among the narcissist left who think they set the standard for moral rectitude with the past a sinkhole of injustice. Even there on the day that World War I began there were no ceremonies I came across, with nothing of much interest in the pages of the press. Maybe ever thus, but there must have been a long period of time when Agincourt was a live memory. Today nothing, not for WWI and now even WWII, other than fake analogies with Nazis and Hitler everywhere to be seen. Anyway, it is good to see this recognition for Winston Churchill, the Man of the Century.

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PragerU enlisted the services of the prominent historian Andrew Roberts to give its short course on “Winston Churchill: The man who saved the free world” (video below). It’s a good title and Roberts knows what he is talking about. He is the author of The Storm of War: A New History of World War II and the forthcoming biography Churchill: Walking with Destiny (also a good title, drawn from the concluding paragraph of The Gathering Storm).

The linked PragerU page includes a set of additional points, citations, and sources. The comments posted at YouTube include nitpicking about the video’s maps. The comments miss the point. This is the point: “The point about Churchill in 1940 is not that he stopped the German invasion, but that he stopped the British government making peace.” Sometimes you have to give war a chance.

I learned of the video via Roberts’s Twitter feed. It seems to be a box office hit in its own right.

My short video for @DennisPrager on Winston Churchill has received nearly 300,000 views in 4 days: https://www.prageru.com/videos/churchill-man-who-saved-free-world  Fun to make too

Churchill: The Man Who Saved the Free World

The West is free today thanks in large part to one man – Winston Churchill. Historian and bestselling author Andrew Roberts explains how Churchill saved the world from Nazi Germany.

Here is the concluding paragraph of The Gathering Storm, giving us Churchill’s thoughts on the evening of May 10, 1940: “During the last crowded days of the political crisis, my pulse had not quickened at any moment. I took it all as it came. But I cannot conceal from the reader of this truthful account that as I went to bed at about 3 A. M., I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Eleven years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the war or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.”
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57 Responses to Gratitude and history

  1. Rococo Liberal

    AJP Taylor aptly described Churchill as “the Saviour of his country.”

  2. It does illustrate how far the Left has advanced. Imagine a similar situation today. In fact one doesn’t need to imagine, just watch what’s happening in Europe.

  3. gbees

    What would Churchill have to say about the arrest of Paul Weston for quoting Churchill on Islam?

  4. Thanks Steve.
    Now for an educational revolution designed to celebrate Western civilisation, democracy, and Christianity.

  5. Marcus

    This is from Powerline: Churchill in Five Minutes. We are an ignorant and ungrateful age though whether we are exceptional in this is hard to tell.

    Very true. Voting Churchill out of office after the War was probably the greatest political act of ingratitude imaginable.

  6. pbw

    Churchill’s story underlines the open-endedness of time, of history; and, for free-marketeers, the impossibility of managing the unpredictable turmoil of events. Individuals carry the responsibility of the historical moment and its unfolding surprises, but the scope of that responsibility varies enormously. History is driven by those differences in individual character, talents and responses. Most are like mice; some are like Atlas.

    During the last crowded days of the political crisis, my pulse had not quickened at any moment. I took it all as it came.

    How can one man save a country and a civilisation? Yet he did. How can the words and consonant actions of one man inspire a whole nation? Yet they did. Where does the power of words come from? What does it mean to “lift the spirit”? Answer me that, you materialists.

  7. C.L.

    Without America, Churchill’s words and deeds wouldn’t have stopped Germany.
    The saviour of the free world was not a man. It was a nation: the USA.

  8. Neil

    Without America, Churchill’s words and deeds wouldn’t have stopped Germany.

    So what? If Britain had surrendered or have been conquered what could the USA have done?

  9. Tim Neilson

    So what? If Britain had surrendered or have been conquered what could the USA have done?

    One thing we do know, if Joseph Kennedy had had his way they would have entered a peace pact with Germany.

  10. Neil

    One thing we do know, if Joseph Kennedy had had his way they would have entered a peace pact with Germany.

    If the Japanese did not attack Pearl Harbor i doubt the USA would have ever entered the war. And it was Germany who declared war on the USA in solidarity with Japan, not the other way around

  11. manalive

    I watch the disdain for our own past growing among the narcissist left who think they set the standard for moral rectitude with the past a sinkhole of injustice …

    Presentism, a historical fallacy: “uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts. “ (Oxford).
    “In literary and historical analysis, presentism is the anachronistic introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past” (Wiki).
    It can work both ways, or in reverse, Wiki gives the example of ‘Whig history’ where the selective use of history was used to validate the then current Whig beliefs.

  12. stackja

    C.L.
    #2649165, posted on March 1, 2018 at 10:57 am
    Without America, Churchill’s words and deeds wouldn’t have stopped Germany.
    The saviour of the free world was not a man. It was a nation: the USA.

    And Europe quickly forgot.

  13. stackja

    Marcus
    #2649127, posted on March 1, 2018 at 10:11 am
    This is from Powerline: Churchill in Five Minutes. We are an ignorant and ungrateful age though whether we are exceptional in this is hard to tell.

    Very true. Voting Churchill out of office after the War was probably the greatest political act of ingratitude imaginable.

    How much due to media accepting Attlee offering an easy life?

  14. A Lurker

    The protectors of Western Civilization may have won the war – but the enemies of Western Civilization have certainly stolen the peace.

  15. Confused Old Misfit

    C.L.
    #2649165, posted on March 1, 2018 at 10:57 am
    Without America, Churchill’s words and deeds wouldn’t have stopped Germany.
    The saviour of the free world was not a man. It was a nation: the USA.

    And Churchill knew this. He knew that without the USA defeat for Britain was inevitable. There was a glimmer of hope when Germany turned on Russia. but only a glimmer that lasted from 22 June to 7 Dec 1941.

  16. Ellen of Tasmania

    “Actually, Churchill was not especially sentimental about the USA, a country he knew far better than most British politicians, from many visits over many years (and also because his mother was American).

    I believe he understood perfectly well, in 1940, that his decision to fight on would make us, thereafter, an American vassal state.

    I also believe he quite rightly believed this better than the alternative, which would have been (at best) a dingy future as a played-out and disarmed empire on the fringe of a Europe controlled by either Hitler or Stalin (or perhaps both of them) ”

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/churchill-cult/

  17. stackja

    Keynes made things worse?

  18. jupes

    Without America, Churchill’s words and deeds wouldn’t have stopped Germany.
    The saviour of the free world was not a man. It was a nation: the USA.

    Obviously you didn’t watch the video.

    If Haliflax instead of Churchill had been made PM, then Britain would have made peace with Germany. The USA would not have entered the war.

  19. manalive

    That’s a very Anglocentric view of WW2.
    Even if Britain had come to terms with Hitler and even if Hitler had defeated the USSR — very unlikely given the almost unlimited resources of resources men and machinery (due to the Holodomor) — once Hitler declared war on the USA he and his regime were doomed.
    During the ‘30s in Germany nuclear science was labelled “Jewish science” and many of the scientists employed on the Manhattan Project were refugees from Germany.
    One bomb on Berlin would have ended the war immediately.

  20. manalive

    That’s a very Anglocentric view of WW2.
    Even if Britain had come to terms with Hitler and even if Hitler had defeated the USSR — very unlikely given the almost unlimited resources of resources men and machinery (due to the Holodomor) — once Hitler declared war on the US he and his regime were doomed.
    During the ‘30s in Germany nuclear science was labelled “J**ish science” and many of the scientists employed on the Manhattan Project were refugees from Germany.
    One bomb on Berlin would have ended the war immediately.

  21. thefrolickingmole

    The USA entered the war for US interests only.
    It did lend lease on the condition the British empire was dismembered utterly leaving it the single biggest “market” in the world for a couple of generations.

  22. Robbo

    Before we deify Churchill we should remember that his focus was totally on the war with Germany, understandably so, but that meant that the best interests and security of Australia was very low on his totem pole of priorities. If it had not been for the USA we would have been trampled underfoot by the Japanese. Australia punched well above its weight in the war against Hitler while at the same time doing what it could to repel the Japanese in New Guinea with assistance only from the Americans.
    Churchill does deserve full credit for his leadership when Britain lost every European ally to the Nazis but let us not forget that John Curtain and his government were doing exactly the same job here in Australia against the major threat we faced from our north.

  23. J.H.

    gbees
    #2649116, posted on March 1, 2018 at 10:01 am
    What would Churchill have to say about the arrest of Paul Weston for quoting Churchill on Islam?————————————————————————————————
    It wouldn’t surprise him. Winston knew full well the propensity for English politics to eat their own…

  24. J.H.

    Not quite Robbo… Singapore was an utter disaster and a surprise for Churchill and England…. He allowed Australia to take its forces in North Africa back to Australia without complaint… He knew the dire circumstances of the situation….. Even America was in full retreat in 1942.

  25. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    It did lend lease on the condition the British empire was dismembered utterly leaving it the single biggest “market” in the world for a couple of generations.

    There are some interesting examples in Max Hasting’s book “Churchill as Warlord” about how the American branches of British firms were sold off at virtually knock down prices.

  26. Tim Neilson

    Neil
    #2649201, posted on March 1, 2018 at 11:36 am
    manalive
    #2649336, posted on March 1, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Both true if that was how it played out, but it would have been too late.

    If Britain had surrendered to Germany in 1940, then there would have been nothing America could, or would, have done to help Europe after Pearl Harbour and the declaration by H!+ler. The USA would have defeated Japan, but how would they have stopped either [email protected]! Germany or the Soviet Union from being in control of the vast resources of Europe (or destroying it between them)?

  27. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    Before we deify Churchill we should remember that his focus was totally on the war with Germany, understandably so, but that meant that the best interests and security of Australia was very low on his totem pole of priorities.

    I don’t have a reference, but Graham Fredenberg’s book “Churchill and Australia” cites Churchill as giving the assurance that “Should Australia be invaded, we would close down the Middle East/Mediterranean Front, and proceed with all dispatch to relieve Australia.”

  28. Neil

    If Britain had surrendered to Germany in 1940, then there would have been nothing America could, or would, have done to help Europe after Pearl Harbour and the declaration by H!+ler.

    Exactly. That is what makes Churchill so great. Halifax if PM would have come to some agreement with Hitler. I remember reading some comments from people who lived in Coventry during the bombing. They just wanted Churchill to surrender. They had enough.

  29. lotocoti

    very unlikely given the almost unlimited resources of resources men and machinery …

    People seem to underestimate how dependant the USSR was upon Lend Lease.
    Not just the 12,000 tanks, 14,000 aircraft and most importantly the 375,ooo odd trucks, but a metric shitload of stuff without which the Year of Ten Victories could never have happened.

  30. John Constantine

    How can it be said that a war was won, when the end result is the cultural genocide of the ‘winner’ the replacement of their native population with a brand new polity chosen by their enemies and the wiping of their literary canon, religion and eventually language from the face of the earth?.

  31. stackja

    John Constantine
    #2649410, posted on March 1, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    WW2 was against Hitler/Tojo. Stalin then sought to ‘win’ the peace. Stalinists haven’t given up, that is why we’re where are.

  32. Rococo Liberal

    British brains, American money and Russian blood won the War.
    Churchill made sure that there was time for American money and Russian blood to come into play.

  33. Speedbox

    …. Churchill (knew) that without the USA defeat for Britain was inevitable. There was a glimmer of hope when Germany turned on Russia. but only a glimmer that lasted from 22 June to 7 Dec 1941.

    COM – This is a very complex issue with lots of impacting elements, but Hitler’s attack on Russia was one of his greatest military blunders. Notwithstanding what Hitler thought or was told by his flunkies, any war with Russia was going to consume vast resources in men and machines with an uncertain (at best) outcome.

    IMO, it was a fundamental and gross misreading of Russia’s resources and equally important, complete disregard for the Russian psyche to defend “the motherland”. As we all know, the weather also played a significant role. (I can’t help but admire the sheer tenacity and bloody-mindedness of the Russian resistance and subsequent fightback).

    However, had Hitler chosen to maintain his pact with Stalin and focus mainly on western Europe, Britain was finished. Sooner or later. But by attacking Russia, Hitler opened a new front with a (now) outraged and deeply hostile enemy who was blessed with huge (if unrefined) resources at their disposal. Under Stalin, the Russians would have expended every last member of their nation to expel the invaders and chase them back to Berlin.

    I agree that the eventual outcome of the war was cemented beyond doubt from 7 December 1941 but wonder if that is only with regard to the overall duration. If the USA had not officially entered the war (if Japan did not attack Pearl) , how long would it have been before the Hammer and Sickle was flying over the ruins of the Reichstag?

  34. Dr Fred Lenin

    I think Churchill was an inspirational orator who could influence and sway peoples ideals ,can you imagine Attlee making the beaches speech? Bit like our inspirational speechifiers the krudsters.

  35. duncanm

    IMO, it was a fundamental and gross misreading of Russia’s resources and equally important, complete disregard for the Russian psyche to defend “the motherland”

    don’t forget the vast distances, either. Trying to keep a military supply chain through to the Volga was a pretty stupid idea.

  36. Tel

    People seem to underestimate how dependant the USSR was upon Lend Lease.
    Not just the 12,000 tanks, 14,000 aircraft and most importantly the 375,ooo odd trucks, but a metric shitload of stuff without which the Year of Ten Victories could never have happened.

    Yup, the USA basically chose who the winner was going to be. Which is what Neville Chamberlain attempted to explain to Hitler … crashing the big empires UK / Germany / France was a bad idea and some kind of three way treaty was the only rational outcome. Hitler pretended to be listening but then went and did his own thing.

    They were on the fence for a while, a lot of pre-war US investments had gone into Germany. If Hitler had been a bit more likeable in the run-up to 1940 quite likely the USA would have said, “OK, let’s give this one to the Germans.” They would have all been going the Bellamy Salute together.

    Quote probably it was FDR who swung the deal the other way… but I guess there’s no way to know.

  37. thefrolickingmole

    If the UK had surrendered the Russians would have been crushed inside 2 years.
    Hitler kept a ludicrous amount of troops tied up in Norway, those same troops allowed into Finland would have swept from the North.

    The Russians initial great victories (and subsequent ones) relied heavily on deception, which in turn meant keeping German aircraft from seeing their buildups.

    With no Euros left in the war Japan may have been able to make a number of “offers you cant refuse” to the Dutch, Australians and others in return for a “strike north” policy against the Soviets.

    China (nationalists) would have no route for supply via India/Burma letting them make a peace or fight on alone against the Japs.

    If Japan had secured some oil provinces it may have been far more conservative in its dealings with the USA, and been able to “harden” far more territory with airstrips and defenses.

    In that respect Churchill did provide an absolute linchpin for everything that followed.
    However an appeasement may have left the UK with a “commonwealth” instead of the debacle of (not all) a lot of the next 30 years.

  38. Speedbox

    There is no doubt that the “Arsenal for Democracy” introduced by FDR was hugely important for GB, Canada, Russia etc but FDR didn’t make that speech until December 1940. So, whilst the American Administration knew that an Axis controlled Europe (inc GB) would be a global menace to the USA, the USA did not “choose the winner”. On the contrary, the Lend Lease program was borne of a clear understanding by FDR that to do nothing was inviting potential disaster for the USA.

    FDR often stated that “appeasement doesn’t work” and was critical of Chamberlain’s foolish attempts to tame Hitler – and don’t forget that the USA was also somewhat hampered by the various Neutrality Acts until 1941.

    But, in all this, there is no doubt that the Lend Lease program was a substantial boost to Russia particularly in the earlier stages of the war from 1941-43. In addition to military goods, a vast amount of food was also shipped.

    It was said that in his quieter more rational moments, Stalin would privately concede that without the Lend Lease program, Russia may not have prevailed over Germany. Whether true or not, I think that the sheer logistics of invading Russia and permanently suppressing a brutally hostile and uncooperative population would have resulted in Russia eventually winning back their country. As it stands, 20 million Russians died – goodness knows the death toll if the occupation of Russia had been extended.

  39. Dr Fred Lenin

    When you think of the rolling cadences of Churchill’s oratory ,and his beautiful English it makes you appreciate giliards “ejiekayshin ,” and “Mizawjenee” ,and”my names kevin I’m here to help” you really know how lucky we were to hear the gems they uttered ,and giliard had a scotch communist who knew some English to write her gems .

  40. manalive

    People seem to underestimate how dependant the USSR was upon Lend Lease …

    Not me.

    …. without which the Year of Ten Victories could never have happened.

    Could be an exaggeration.

  41. exactly the same job here in Australia against the major threat we faced from our north.

    Yes we were threatened, but not in exactly the same way as Churchill’s people.
    The massive amounts of ordnance dropped on British towns far outweighed the bombs Darwin suffered.
    The proximity to large invading armies wasn’t a factor.
    Nightly bombing raids over our most populated cities wasn’t happening.
    Barrage balloons didn’t float over cities as a daily reminder that death was imminent.
    The Australian population didn’t crowd together in railway tunnels listening to the sound of destruction going on above them.

    Churchill’s job was a lot harder than Curtin’s. Downplaying his role won’t work.

  42. Tim Neilson

    Quote probably it was FDR who swung the deal the other way… but I guess there’s no way to know.

    There’s a book called “A Man Called “Intrepid”” about British intelligence activity in the USA from the late 1930’s until Pearl Harbour. It makes it pretty clear that FDR was doing all he could to help the British.

  43. thefrolickingmole

    Speedbox

    Russian supplies traveled on American motors, rail & signals.

    Long supply lines work both ways.

    I dont know how accurate this list is, but it lays out some of what kept Russia in the war.
    http://www.jrbooksonline.com/fdr-scandal-page/lend.html

  44. Speedbox

    If the UK had surrendered the Russians would have been crushed inside 2 years.
    Hitler kept a ludicrous amount of troops tied up in Norway, those same troops allowed into Finland would have swept from the North.

    Absolutely. We would be living in an entirely different world. I doubt that anything could have saved Russia if Germany was only fighting on one front and could have focused all of her attention on defeating Russia.

    So many different scenarios……..

  45. Dr Fred Lenin

    I remember reading where the German troops sneered at the Russians for wearing bandages wrapped round their feet and felt boots , when the Germans wore stout leather boots and thick wool socks . But in the first winter they found wool socks don’t dry in minus 20 temperatures nor do leather boots so their feet were always wet and prone to frostbite , it’s much easier to dry a bandage and wet felt boots keep the feet warm ,frost bitten feet are no joke . Wouldn’t mind a dollar for every toe the Germans lost through frostbite .

  46. Speedbox

    Russian supplies traveled on American motors, rail & signals.

    Yeah, Russia produced bugger all trains and rail lines during the war. They did make some, but just didn’t have the capacity (at least until 1944) or the will to manufacture very much “other stuff”. All manufacturing was devoted to planes/bombs/guns/mortars/tanks/bullets etc. As we know, other units were manufactured in the USA and shipped.

    By luck, little was lost by shipping. Only about 10% of all shipments failed to get through.

  47. Muddy

    A Lurker
    #2649239, posted on March 1, 2018 at 12:13 pm
    The protectors of Western Civilization may have won the war – but the enemies of Western Civilization have certainly stolen the peace.

    Let’s be a little more frank about this:
    … the enemies of Western Civilization have been permitted to steal the peace.

  48. Maxie

    Maybe a Spiritual Power raised up a Churchill in order to preserve a chosen people, and maybe we are witnessing a replay in the role of President Trump. God can use imperfect vessels to fulfill His purpose.

  49. John Constantine

    How many godless commos would be left in the world if the Americans had supplied Rommel with lend lease convoys and not bombed the Ruhr flat.

  50. Nathan

    I think Ralph Raico had a much better understanding of Churchill than you SK: https://mises.org/library/rethinking-churchill

    You really need to brush up on your history let alone economics.

  51. max

    the neocon mythology

    he was “a man of the state: of the welfare state and of the warfare state” in Professor Ralph Raico’s turn-of-phrase. The truth about Winston Churchill is that he was a menace to liberty, and a disaster for Britain, for Europe, for the United States of America, and for Western Civilization itself.

    As Mises wrote in 1950, “It is noteworthy to remember that British socialism was not an achievement of Mr. Attlee’s Labor Government, but of the war cabinet of Mr. Winston Churchill.”

    Churchill never had a principle he did not in the end betray, this does not mean that there was no slant to his actions, no systematic bias. There was, and that bias was towards lowering the barriers to state power.

    Churchill never cared a great deal about domestic affairs, even welfarism, except as a means of attaining and keeping office. What he loved was power, and the opportunities power provided to live a life of drama and struggle and endless war.

  52. Confused Old Misfit

    Max,
    You and Mises may be entirely correct in everything you think.
    But, in what language would you be speaking or writing had he not been there?
    Denigrate him all you wish. He made it possible for you to do so.

  53. Confused Old Misfit

    Max,
    Sorry, (not really) but I don’t but that for a second.

  54. max

    Magna Carta Libertatum (Medieval Latin for “the Great Charter of the Liberties”

  55. Ubique

    Churchill himself was a master of propaganda. When the Russians demanded supplies of condoms, Churchill ordered that the British supply them with foot-long versions, prominently marked “made in Britain, medium size.”

  56. Boris

    British brains, American money and Russian blood won the War.

    One can argue that what really won the war was hitler’s madness. While tactically he was at times brilliant, his overall strategy was doomed to failure. For instance people here and elsewhere argue that attack on Soviet Union was a mistake that sealed his fate. But all hitlers strategy was based on idioelogy, which dictated this step. Both because of the neeed for libensraum and the need to crush Bolshevism, the enemy of humanity. Without these two pillars Nazism wouldn’t have made much sense. Defeating Britain ? What for?

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