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September 03, 2009

Verdict on Churchill

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --


Winston Churchill: Towering Savior of Western Civ? Or, as Ralph Raico would have it, power-mad warmonger and statist who -- OK, sure -- managed nonetheless to perform effectively for a few months?

Back here, visitors shared opinions about Abraham Lincoln.



posted by Michael at September 3, 2009


Winston Churchill was a working politic9an for more than 50 years, during a period of unprecendented social and economic change. As a politician, he sometimes led his constituents, sometimes ruefully followed, sometimes trimmed, sometimes zigzagged, sometimes switched alliegences, sometimes delivered less than his campaign speeches promised. He was, for much of his later life, an unfashionably old-fashioned man. He probably was not the greatest strategic thinker of all time, but he made significant choices of policy in opposing Hitler, in working to get the USA into the war on the British side, in accepting a permanent loss of British prestige and world power as the cost of defeating the Axis, in accepting trade union and socialist visions of an altered British economy as a cost for preserving unity during an almost intolerable conflict. He chose good advisior, from Alanbrooke and Beveredge, to Lindemann and Montgomery; he trusted them with power. Ge appeared before Parliament frequently; he explained his policies; he debated. He built no Treblinkas or Dauchaus, no Gulags, no Manzinaars.

And what did he do, in the end, with his victory? HE LET THE VOTERS THROW HIM OUT OF OFFICE. He sent Viceroys to India who promised to remove the Raj. When he was restored to the PM-ship he accepted the socialistic legislation enacted by politicians not of his party; he governed Great Britian as it was, rather than a fantasy og his childhood.

What did Hitler did with his victories? I don't think we need a list.

Raico seems annoyed because the WC of 1899 and the WC of 1945 were not identical. I think that's his problem. I think on balance Churchill showed what democracies might accomplish and how statemen govern in democracies better than any other 20th century figure, perthaps better than any poltician since the age of Augustus. My vote is that he was a Very Great (and Very Good) Man and I confidently expect historians to agree for as long the 2oth Century is remembered.

Posted by: mike shupp on September 3, 2009 5:15 PM

You can make a perfectly reasonable case that Churchill was a rackety career politician whose only real merit was that he was the man for the hour in 1940. You can make a decent contrary case too. I'll confine myself to two small points. (1) The Queen Mum's name was Elizabeth, not Mary. (2) The sinking of much of the French fleet at Oran was one of Churchill's better decisions. The claim that it was a war crime is plain silly. Wikipedia gives a pretty full account of what happened - the British ultimatum seems fair to me.

Posted by: dearieme on September 4, 2009 6:05 AM

Whatever else you can say about him (and I don't recognize Ralph Raico's name and have no idea why I should care what his opinion is) WSC was a MENSCH.

Perfect? No. PC? He practically defined the opposite. Prone to pettiness and score-settling?

Likely to be remembered as the greatest Englishman ever? Who is more deserving?

Posted by: Narr on September 4, 2009 4:10 PM

Oh whatever. I know you guys like to be contrarian and all but I somehow doubt the Brits would enjoy being ruled by Nazi Germany.

I'm sure he got lucky. But you have to admit getting the Americans on his side was a nice bit of diplomacy.

Posted by: SFG on September 5, 2009 11:49 AM

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