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Allen Barra on Winston Churchill

Posted on Jan 1, 2010

By Allen Barra

(Page 2)

Johnson succeeds in compressing a staggering amount of material and illuminating detail into a small space. Other biographers may have noted that among Churchill’s favorite movies were “Stagecoach” and “Destry Rides Again” (he walked out of “Citizen Kane” in disgust), but if they did, I have not noticed. It’s hard to come up with flashes of the great man’s wit that haven’t been run into the ground; I had not previously seen Churchill’s remark about Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles: “That man makes a beautiful declension: Dull, Duller, Dullest.” And I find it inspiring that a man could fight a world war and write enough books to fill a small library while consuming an estimated 20,000 bottles of champagne.

What Johnson misses, however, he misses big. Johnson and Lukacs (and numerous historians before them) are correct in calling Churchill the key figure of the Second World War—“There was no one else,” Johnson maintains, “who could have done what he did in 1940”—but he fails to address the question that is perhaps most important to readers in the 21st century: Should we have an interest in Winston Churchill outside of World War II? (One might say the question was first asked by Hitler in 1940: “But had this war not come, who would speak of Churchill?”) 


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To put it another way, did Churchill’s life before and after World War II leave anything lasting for posterity? To call his career before 1939 checkered is generous, even while acknowledging that, as Johnson says, “The [1921] Anglo-Irish treaty must be counted another of his positive achievements.” He was, even allowing for the prejudices of his time and class, irrevocably wrong on a great many important issues such as British rule of Ireland, India, women’s suffrage and, in more practical matters, his monetary policies, including his disastrous decision in 1925 to return Britain to the gold standard, precipitating a major recession.

It may be true, as he said, that “I should have made nothing if I had not made mistakes,” but should he have been allowed so many? Even a catalog of blunders during his greatest years, from 1941 to 1945, are eye-opening. He may not have been solely responsible for the debacle in the Dardanelles during World War I—Johnson lets him off the hook almost entirely—but what could excuse his miscalculation in the Second World War that the Mediterranean coast was “the soft underbelly of Europe”? The minor disaster at Dieppe, in Norway, and his major failure to understand the threat of Imperial Japan are not easily ignored. (“I do not believe,” he said in 1924, “there is the slightest chance of it [war with Japan] in our lifetime.”)

Do we excuse him for these and other mistakes just as serious? Of course, because, as he once said to an attendant in excusing his own rudeness, “I am a great man.” He was a warrior, but in no way a warmonger.

In Johnson’s judgment, “Churchill was sufficient of a realist to grasp that wars will come, and that a victorious one, however dreadful, is preferable to a lost one.” Or as Churchill himself wrote in “My Early Life,” “I have always been against the Pacifist during the quarrel, and against the Jingos at its close.”

No matter how many books Winston Churchill inspires, it is probably no longer possible for us to truly understand him. Vital as he was to the 20th century, he was still, as he put it, “A child of the Victorian era,” assuming the white man’s burden with a born allegiance to an empire that no longer matters to us, that no longer even holds nostalgia for us—although I suspect it holds more than a little nostalgia for Paul Johnson.

The great lines from Churchill’s great speeches are still alive to us, but they evoke the past without illuminating the future. In contrast, Franklin Roosevelt appears to us as one of the first representatives of the modern Western society that would come to dominate the postwar world, while Winston Churchill appears to us now only as the avatar of a past still strongly felt but only dimly remembered. The memory, though, is one from which his image can never fade. Never.

Allen Barra writes about sports and the arts for The Wall Street Journal and Bookforum.

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By Garo, January 9, 2010 at 2:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: Ton Edgar,January 5 at 7:24 pm.

I could have put it mor politely,but no more succinctly.”


Thank you for being so explicitly concise. Most appreciated,indeed.

I wish I have the talent of concision which is obvious I do not have. But,I can manage without it. That is to say:with lengthy expressions that come from the small corners of the heart. And critical/intelligent readers like you can get it and appreciate it,as you have done in a very short and simple English sentence.

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By M Henri Day, January 8, 2010 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

What is it Mme Corneul said, «il n?y a pas de héros pour son valet-de-chambre» ? Or, one might add, to a good historian. But then there’s always a Paul Johnson around to grind out the eulogies….


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By Tom Edgar, January 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

Between Hitler and Churchill there were many similarities.  I think Churchill was way ahead in arrogance, hypocrisy, and egotism. Oratory, vanity?  Hitler left him floundering. Delusions of grandeur I guess they were evenly matched.

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By bonito, January 8, 2010 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Winston Churchill ” a great man ” yes of course if
viewed from the lofty perch of the now diminished
British Empire.  This was the man that was instrumental
in getting the U.S. into the first World War, and then
23 years later into the second.  Some say in order for
the U.S. taxpayer to pick up the Tab.  You pride this
mere mortal for his speaking skill, but then Hitler,
was every bit as skillful.

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By Tom Edgar, January 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

I could have put it more politely, but no more succinctly.

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By Garo, January 5, 2010 at 10:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

After reading countless articles about Winston Churchill,I have reached,several years ago,the following conclusion:

Winston Churchill was nothing more than a Fat-Cigar smoking-Scotch-Whisky Drinking-Arrogant-Racist Bum.

The reason for reaching the above conclusion about him was due to the fact that he used the degrading word,“SQUEAMISHNESS”,in describing the “RESISTANCE” some of his conscientious military Generals expressed against
using “CHEMICAL WEAPONS” against rebellious civilian pupulations and enemy soldiers as well,as Churchill put it “AGAINST UN-CIVILIZED PEOPLE”.

No one needs to take my word. Just keep reading and most likely,one will eventually reach the same conclusion as I already have and express it above.

His eloquence in the English language must not fool anyone in order to reach the right kind of conclusion about the “RACIST ARROGANT BUM”.

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By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 8:28 am Link to this comment

“G"utless “W"itless Hitler

Very funny! Nice one; but, I think when one “honours” someone, such as with one’s presence, the implication can be that it is the honouree that has the honour. If course, she could have meant “regard with great respect”...but then again there is the presumption that one’s great respect is worthy of being conferred, that one has the standing of a peer, or in short, that the Queen will give a flying—!

I do think that in general the British gentle-class does demand (er, I mean prefer) duly abject obeisance, and are rather less fond of receiving off-handed dispensations of discretionary approval, especially from lowly colonials such as we, lol. They will conceed that, alas, these inevitable faux pas from the forgetful classes are among the many slings and arrows that must be borne as part and parcel of their great white burden. It’s sometimes rather trying being the master race, don’t you know.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, January 4, 2010 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

To Mike3

So she actually said I “honors the Queen”?  Is your beef with subject-verb agreement?  Or is it that to say one “honors the Queen” is simply not the proper way for a commoner to express respect for a Tea Bag of regal bearing? Or is the expression simply not used in Tea Bag English?  And shouldn’t you have spelled it “honour”?  I’m sure the American would have wanted it that way given how much she honours the Queen.

But I’m really glad that you made the distinction between British and American racists.  Clearly, the British racist is an entirely superior species of racist.  Had all other racists died out and only the British racist remained, the subjugated peoples of the earth would have known a kinder, gentler form of bondage.  I dare say it would have been noblesse oblige the world over!  After all, historically speaking English lords have been remarkable generous to their subjects.  And perpetual serfdom is sooooo worth it just so long as nobody calls anybody nigger.

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By DieDaily, January 4, 2010 at 4:45 am Link to this comment

yonian, I agree with you. One can argue that this or that army was better or worse, TO A DEGREE. But all of the examples you cite have more to do with how professional an army is. The better trained it is, and higher the ratio of officers to grunts, generally the fewer atrocities there will be. Most of your examples, I think, are explained well by this equation. The rest are explained by the far lower value that is traditionally placed on individuals (in favour of the collective) in Asiatic cultures. Thus the despicable behavior of the Japanese in WWII (and it was horrible!) is somewhat explained, despite that they were well disciplined with a proper ratio of highly skilled officers. (Mind you, then we nuked them…so…) I merely argue that the Germans weren’t even the worst offenders in WWII by and large, and thus that the demonization of Germany afterward was pure propaganda, pure fantasy. It’s time to heal Germany by restoring an accurate history. That involves dredging out massive amounts of fiction and fixation and airing it out in scientific way, come what may.

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By Tom Edgar, January 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm Link to this comment


The matter of degree is not argued.  The apologist attitude you take with reference to improper behaviour by Americans(or any other) being rare I dispute.

My Lai was NOT an isolated example in Vietnam. Water torturing was a common thing.  Burning of huts,and villages, with or without occupants, a general policy action.

In spite of official repression of evidence by officials in the U S at the highest level, similar atrocities in Iraq have been perpetrated and a few have even been cited.

Even the closest adviser to the President being an advocate of torture, what is more alarming , a large proportion of the American population actually support such barbaric acts; how can you try to paint the Americans, and their co conspirators, as being Lilly White?

As for WW2.  American troops treatment of their own soldiers was far from acceptable, especially for those of colour. If youdon’t know of the Battle of South Brisbane involving a battle between Australian and American soldiers read it up. It started because of the brutality towards “Black Americans.”  dating Australian girls.  Oh! it wasn’t the Ozzies who objected, it was the White American soldiers.
The Australians joined in on the side of the Black Americans who were being brutally treated by White American M P’s. When you treat brutally your own. What are the chances you will be kind to the others?

Rape happens daily in a thousand places in America.
Why would the same people change into Puritans when they don a uniform and have no chance of being apprehended? Even if they were, would they be charged? It took a hell of a lot of publicity before they even charged one solitary Lieutenant over My Lai
when there were many such incidents. Lt., Calley was the sacrificial lamb to ease the collective American conscience of thousands of acts of terrorism.

War is terrorism. If you don’t agree, then war you have never seen.

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By johannes, January 3, 2010 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment

You must always try to stay close as possible by the truth, the US soldiers came from home and afther 6 months did came in to Germany, for some there beloved home land, the Russians had to ” FIGHT ” more as 4 years with enormes heavy losses of soldiers and citizen, think on the battle of Stalingrad, their hole country in ruins, that gives you an very differend vieuw on live, and on lives from your enemys, you are become a fighting and killing machine nothing human left.

And do not come with the fairytale that Germans where so well behaving and polite, they where become the same unhuman killing machines as the Russians, and if they had 1000 Tiger panzers more they had throwen the hole American- English army in to the sea, they where fighting with their back against the wall, so kill or geth killed, luckely for the US citizen this kind of war is never come to the US.

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By johannes, January 3, 2010 at 4:25 am Link to this comment

The generation of my father, did know exactly, and could predict how things should go, in the window of der zeitgeist.

Germany, never again one country.
      never again an army.

My father did fight in Spâin contre Franco, the whole world played for looker-on in this fight contre the Facists, but they did leth them be slaughterd by the German stuka,s, their wash nothing to be gain for them, and the freedom fighter Churchill was not to be seen.

This are all pictures of the moment, but the reality is changing so fast, and helped by the corrupt media and politics even more quickly, to create an other feeling and creating an other vision of the reality.

And of course the generations who fall away, and with them their knowledge and conscience, so the following generations can do what they want, without to be unscrupulousness

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By yonian, January 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment
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DieDaily cites the unspeakable horror of the allied fire bombing of Dresden and says “Germans did evil things, Allies did evil things”. But the actions of the conquering infantry at the end of the war were not uniformly evil.  The Russians were seeking bloody revenge against ordinary German families. American forces included lots of ethnic Germans - Eisenhower for one - and generally treated civilians with respect. What was exceptionally bad behavior by a very few Americans was the norm for Russians.

In the long sad history of our species, having troops show up at your door has been terrible news even when they were of your own nationality. The behavior of average American GIs in 1945 was unusually humane by historical norms.

I am suspicious of reports that may be mere propaganda, but I am inclined to believe stories that the Russian army behaved much the same way against Georgian civilians in August 2008.

When I was in my twenties I might have agreed with DieDaily. In the early 1970’s I, too, felt that America was pretty horrible and that the My Lai massacre was definitive of our national character. When I lived in the Philippines for a few months the stories of people a little older than me who had been children there in WWII changed my attitudes toward my own country.  My landlord talked about how much he initially feared the Americans. He thought that if we had defeated the cruel Japanese we must therefore be even more merciless.  When his friends invited him to join them in stealing food from a US Army camp he thought they would bring horrible retaliation against the entire town.  When he saw that the sentries would give the “thieves” boxes to help carry food away he was amazed.  He would not accept my theory that US soldiers in Vietnam routinely did the things that were done at My Lai. I came to see that he was right.  Atrocities like that by Americans were very rare.

I don’t think the behavior of the Germans in Europe was the same as that of the Japanese in the Pacific, but I do believe that the behavior of the American soldiers in both places was far more decent than that of their enemies. We all have the potential to be pretty horrible, but we haven’t all expressed the potential to the same degree. Calling them the “Greatest Generation” might be taking it a bit far, but to believe American GIs were no different than the Russians who occupied Berlin is simply inaccurate.

We have strayed somewhat from discussing Churchill.  Here’s something on topic: All the accounts I remember say that as wartime PM he drank mostly Brandy, not Champagne.

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By Tom Edgar, January 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm Link to this comment


If German soldiers didn’t rape women then they must have been the first victorious army in history with that honour.  I doubt that they were as bad as the Russians, especially their eastern Mongolians.

The Americans in Vietnam, the British in most of the world. Name the place and there you will find women victims, the nationality of the male sex organ is unidentifiable.

Down under I have a German friend who was an unter leutenant, aged seventeen, when he was captured by Americans. I don’t think he had actually been in any serious combat, like so many other very young men, was caught up in the draft towards the end of the war.

He was put into one of those American death camps and survived because he was young and fit. Just a field surrounded by barb wire and vicious guards.
Left without shelter, or even cooking facilities, to rot.

War is terrorism, if you don’t agree, then to war you have never been.

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By DieDaily, January 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

johannes, I think I agree, if you are saying that it’s really stupid to try and argue, against all the evidence, that any of the nations with large armies were much better or much worse than any of the others. The Germans do not in any way deserve to be singled out, as scholars like Ernst Zundel and others have proved beyond any doubt. If they did, these things would have to be explained away:

1. The Dresden holocaust that burned to death hundreds of thousands of civilians and allied POWs. No military significance whatsoever, yet they burned everyone. That’s genocide, that’s holocaust.
2. The slaughter of millions of surrendered Germans by the Soviets after hostilities had ceased. (Yes millions! Far, far, far more than the number of Jews that had been killed by Germans).
3. The slaughter (by starvation, dehydration, and hypothermia) of approaching a million surrendered Germans in camps by the Americans after all hostilities had ceased, despite loud and repeated objections by the British and other allies. (This was the USSR/US collusion, one aspect of the secret pact between Stalin and FDR, so opposed by Churchill)
4. The fact that few German soldiers had heard anything about any Jewish Holocaust until after the war, including and especially those who worked in nearly all of the labor camps.
5. Germany had been premeditatedly crushed, trampled on, humiliated, and repeatedly bankrupted by the incredibly unjust Treaty of Versailles. Of course the rank and file were incredibly pissed off and violently proud. That’s what happens when you kick a people when they’re down. Beside, they never surrendered unconditionally in WWI. They screwed over like nobody’s business. What did we expect them to do? Keep smiling and bending over for us?

Germans did evil things, Allies did evil things. There’s no f-ing racial or national difference there, whatever the historical frauds that have infected our history books might say.

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By pgg804, January 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unfortunately the media and many historians don’t present an accurate picture of
history. Apparently the English didn’t consider Churchill to be the hero the media
has always told us he was because they voted him out of office immediately upon
the end of WW II.  He was voted out of office in 1945.  And I think it makes perfect
sense.  He oversaw the dissolution and bankruptcy of the British empire.

He was later voted in as Prime Minister again in 1951 - maybe by then his
reputation as a great leader had been established by a pro-Churchill press.

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By johannes, January 2, 2010 at 11:37 am Link to this comment


Dear Sir, don’t try to sell the Germans as gentleman,
I have direct famelie in Germany, I have spoken with them direct, my brother in law wash an marine officer, who has made with other officers inquirys and investigations in the behavior of the German army, do not forget that this east front army wash build up, not only from Germans but other countrys, some who hated everything from the east, plus not so well educated and diciplinary, as the Germans.

Churchill wash intiligent and an 100% opportunist, his mother came from very wealthy famelie in New York,very strong caracter, and pushing her son in to extremes, he could sell his self very well, but an enemy of the working class, and not good for peace.

If you are in England go to the house he is growing up in, Blenheim castle, its sure if you grow up in a house like that, that you never can be, a normal person.

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By G.R.T., January 2, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

DieDaily, you are full of it.  “FDR and Stalin had contrived, illegally, to virtually eliminate capitalism abroad.”  Only if you define capitalism as the right of the living dead to feast off the blood of the living—which was the approach of Churchill and the British Empire.

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By pgg804, January 2, 2010 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

To Johannes:

Every army has a few soldiers that exhibit criminal behavior, but despite
everything else they did, in general the German army did not rape women.  But
the allies raped two million German women and many of these women were
gang raped, up to ten times or more and this was often done in front of the
rest of the family.  The Russian army did most of the raping, but they were not
the only guilty ones.  Many times when the rapists were thru, they murdered
the woman and the rest of her family.  The Germans were not the only people
that committed war crimes, but they are the only people that have ever been
tried for war crimes (a few Frenchmen too). 

A comment on Churchill not directed at anyone in particular:

People love to fawn over Churchill and I’m sure he would love it if he could see
the world from his grave.  But he certainly was not a liberal.  While other people
don’t recognize that the world was at a different stage in its development when
discussing German or Russian behavior, I will mention that it was.  Equal
rights and mixed marriages were not a part of western culture at that time and
Churchill was certainly a part of those times.  Churchill used the word “nigger”,
he viewed Britain’s colonies darker peoples as inferior and he would have kept
India and Pakistan as colonies if Britain had not been bankrupt at the end of
the war and forced to give up its colonies.  He was not for equal rights.

As several historians have noted, it was Churchill’s animosity towards Germans
that made Britain would it became at the end of WW II.  He successfully
destroyed Germany and the rest of Europe in his eagerness to turn the German
Polish conflict over Danzig into World War II, but he also destroyed the British
Empire.  Within ten years of the end of WW II, Germany had already surpassed
Britain economically and now Britain is an economic basket case.  Since the end
of WW II Britain has had very little say in world affairs.  Churchill destroyed the
two leading powers of the world (Germany and Great Britain) and allowed the
United States and the Soviet Union to become the superpowers that lead the
world for 46 years until the Soviet Union collapsed.

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By DieDaily, January 2, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

Mike3, LMFAO! I forgot both of those one liners where his; the man certainly was not without great charisma and ready wit!

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By Jacob Roodenburg, January 2, 2010 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To this day, and for good reasons, it has been overlooked (in fact dismissed) that Winston Churchill’s greatest accomplishment, was the ‘transformation’ of the British Anglo-Saxon Empire of the United Kingdom into the Anglo-Saxon Empire of the United States of America!

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By Mike3, January 2, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

Just to add to the interesting posts. The Second World War if anything brought the Anglo-American alliance closer together, to the detriment of the British people who have bought into the anti-European propaganda. A recent addition to this is Israel making it a tripartite alliance. In fact Israel has replaced Britain as most favored nation and has proved itself as an even more vicious pro-American Pitbull. But then it has its own lobby within the heart of Washington itself, not to mention the Pentagon. However as the previous posts have pointed out, this bond is one of elites, it has nothing to do with “the people” or egalitarian and social movements: it is military and geopolitical. Whitehall and the Pentagon (and now Jerusalem) think pretty much the same. The CIA and MI5/MI6 work closely together (and not just in James Bond films) and in the recent banking crisis the Anglo-American banks were the first to collapse as their banking system is closely linked. The glorification of the Allies, the roll Churchill played, and the demonization of Russia (and Muslims) is just part and parcel of the abuse of history and selling this lie to a gullible citizenry.

But with the passing of the first decade of the 21st century even people who don’t normally consider such matters can see with their own eyes how impoverished, politically, culturally, intellectually and morally our so called highly hyped Western Civilization has become, especially when considering Anglo-American politicians like Blair and the Bush’s and even Obama is no different. “Yes we can” – send more troops to Afghanistan. The banks are bankrupt and have been bailed out by the taxpayer – as has the automobile industry. More and more jobs in America are tied directly or indirectly with the “military industrial complex”. War then is America’s biggest growth industry. So the last thing I would want to do is read a new book on Churchill.

On a lighter note his humor. At a social gathering he had one too many: a woman approached him and said: “Sir you are drunk”, to which he replied: “yes madam, and you are ugly, but I shall be sober tomorrow”. Another woman approached him and said: “If you were my husband I would put poison in your coffee”, to which he replied: “If you were my wife, I would drink it.” Mmm…can we add misogamist to the list?

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By johannes, January 2, 2010 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

To Tom Edgar,

Come on Tom, I am sure you do not know what the Germans specialy the SA and SS dit to the Russian people, I have some accounts of Dutch SS troopers, well its so barbaric, that if you reed this story’s your feeling ashamed to be an human.

I know what you mean to say about woman and specialy citizen who you think are innocent, but maby not
guiltless, 80% where standing be hind their Fuhrer,
and they still are putting more weight on the raped German woman and girls as on the Russians, its a question of propaganda all over again.

You must know the fors of our western media powers.


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By DieDaily, January 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

So many good comments. Not much that I could add. race_to_the_bottom, yours is my favorite one. The gist here is that nearly every commenter understands how corrupted the official histories are, how dirty Churchill’s hands were, and what a Napoleonic beast he often was. He was indeed for shooting miners on strike, gassing “inferior races”, etc. However, he does deserve credit for one thing especially: fighting FDR’s controllers during the war. That was actually a very, very good thing. FDR and Stalin had contrived, illegally, to virtually eliminate capitalism abroad. Churchill was aware of this and constantly tried to wake people up to their secret collusion. Generals like Patton and MacArthur knew all about it and undermined it very actively and against orders. Sure, Churchill only did this because his evil masters (the globalist pro-fascists) were different evil masters than FDR had (the globalist pro-Fabian socialists). Granted, what is there to choose between these two monstrous forces? That the two often gridlock is one of the few things that has consistently helped to prevent an even worse globalist hegemony than we are presently faced with.

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By brewerstroupe, January 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

Good on you Tom Edgar. I endorse every one of your posts.

There was a time when Churchill was my hero. That was before I took up the serious study of History and the document record.

Churchill spoke out against re-armament up until the mid thirties when he found himself broke and in danger of losing his house.
At that point he accepted financial help from the “Focus” group (formerly the Anti Nazi Council), a group of pro-war financiers and made an abrupt turnaround.

Hitler did not want war with Britain. Even after Britain and France declared War, Germany simply fortified its border with France (a sign that they had no invasion intent) and the “phoney war” period ensued.

After Dunkirk, Hitler offered an honourable peace which would not have required Britain to disarm or relinquish its Empire. In fact, Hitler wanted Britain to retain both its Navy and Empire and did not even demand the return of Germany’s former colonies. It remains a mystery as to why Churchill did not take advantage of this respite, even if he did not trust the German intent.

Churchill’s reply was to commence the bombing of civilians - a war crime. After that there was no turning back although it was a good four months before Germany responded in kind.

I should add that, in my case, taking a second look at WWII was inspired by the build up to the Iraq War. Seeing at first hand the concerted campaign by interested groups to get that war up and running, I was struck by the similarity in rhetoric. On closer examination, the parallels are striking.

When I first heard GWB compare himself to Churchill I thought it preposterous. Not so much now. Both cloaked their political illegitimacy and ineptitude under the mantle of “War Leader”.

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By Tom Edgar, January 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

Show me a war, any war, where Rape and pillage didn’t take place.  Show me an army that didn’t commit such acts, any army. Show me a country at peace where the same acts do not occur. The same people of these countries become soldiers with a reduced chance of accountability.
Show me a country where women do not pay the ultimate penalty in every way for man’s perfidy in times of war or peace. Even the Bible condoned taking the women as concubines, especially the virgins, when a city/state was vanquished.

That the Russians did rape, and pillage is a matter of historical accuracy.  They made the excuse it was in retaliation for the Germans doing the same.
I could have gone along with that if they had raped the guilty soldiers instead of the innocent women.
Maybe they did, but what German soldier would admit it?

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By ofersince72, January 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

once again, others have beat me to the punch.
The way history is recorded at taught is, of course,
for industry. There were no real good guys in either
of the twentieth century World Wars.

Industrial nations all were very concerned about the
rising world labor unions, their strength and unity.

What better way to combat this than with fax
Leaders of the industrial world said “lets have a
war filled with nationalism,  this will slow down
labor,  we will draw straws to pick sides, create
an incident and have at it. Labor is about to topple
our power structure, it needs to be stopped at any
cost.  Which ever side wins gets to name the DEAMON.”

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By johannes, January 1, 2010 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

To omygodnotagain,

I do not say you are a liar, but you are writing the news of the day, with lots of unproven facts, its always a plearure for some people to put the Russians down,and place them as barbarians.

Look in to the behavior of the German army, they where not human enymore, if the Russians had raped all German woman and killed all German soldiers than the count should still not be in balans

Its the same history with the Romans, they called all not Romans the Barbares, but we slowly find out that the Romans where the Barbares.

I do not like to start an comotion, but the US army had to hang lots of their soldiers in Normandie, most black soldiers for raping the France girls,
that inherent an war.

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By johannes, January 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

To omygodnotagain,

I do not say you are a liar, but you are writing the news of the day, with lots of unproven facts, its always a plearure for some people to put the Russians down,and place them as barbarians.

Its the same history with the Romans, they called all not Romans the Barbares, but we slowly find out that the Romans where the Barbares.

I do not like to start an comotion, but the US army had to hang lots of their soldiers in Normandie, most black soldiers for raping the France girls,
that inherent an war.

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By mandinka, January 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

A much better question would be who would waste $20 on a guy that had no impact on this country other than to bring Gin here.

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By omygodnotagain, January 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

The Soviet push west was no holiday for the poles and others they were slaughtered, brutalized or interned by the Soviets. The behavior of Russian troops as noted in “Prussian Nights” by Solzhenitsyn, and in Robert Conquest’s work was horrific, girls as young as 10 raped repeatly in front of their families.
Over 2 million abortions performed on raped women mostly by Soviets.
The failure of the Western allies to move faster against the barbaric actions of the Soviets is still deeply resented in Eastern Europe and Germany, and is a stain on the West’s so called moral righteousness
It replaced one tyrany by another

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By Tom Edgar, January 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

Henri.  Here in Australia we also have a “New” Labor the only difference is that they haven’t changed the name.  By any interpretation Labor they ain’t.

British labor changed the name to distance itself from its past.  Why? It had nowhere near the reasons the Tories had to be ashamed of its past.. Australians on the other hand wish to hang on to the mystique of outstanding past leaders such as Chifley, and Curtin whilst being, as in Britain, the best Tory Government we have ever had.

As an ex member and once prospective Federal candidate, I sadly say, I have not voted Labor in a long time. When I told my wife I had been asked to be a candidate she said. “I thought you always only wanted to be respected.” Ending a political career before it started, and she was, at the time, the Federal district Labor Party President.

Disenchantment, nay antagonism towards Party Politics
set in over thirty years ago, and has progressively
strengthened.  Unlike Churchill my integrity wouldn’t allow me to take advantage of the system cynically claiming allegiance to varying philosophies for personal advantage.

I well remember seeing that little S E London “Cockney” woman berating Churchill who had climbed on to a heap of bomb rubble to exclaim pontifically.  “We can take it.”

“You, you can take it?  We are the ones who are taking it.  You standing there with your astrakhan collared coat, and Homburg hat, smoking your imported Havana cigar. You’ll go home to have a big, non rationed meal.  We are the ones who are taking it every day.”

He may have been oratorically good with set speeches, and political quips.  This day he had no reply. Just turned and left.

Ah Churchill may not have been welcome in the True Blue Labor Party.  But he’d feel completely at home with New Labor.  Sorry about the Australian spelling of Labour/Labor.  I have to fully embrace my improved national identity.

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By P. T., January 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

“True, Stalin should have let Zhukov run the war, but no knowledgeable person would seriously state that the Soviets and the Nazis were ‘allies’.”

Of course they were allies, and of course they had excuses.  Governments always do.  Meanwhile, Britain was being bombed.

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By bal, January 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

M Henri Day

I believe that a comma has been left out:

“The minor disaster at Dieppe, in Norway and his major failure to understand the threat of Imperial Japan are not easily ignored.”

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By M Henri Day, January 1, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Well, Tom, I fear you’ve got Winston Spencer pegged - but I suggest there is yet another element of consistency in his political biography. While he could switch from Tory to Liberal and back again, he never seems to have considered switching to Labour - nor would he have been welcome if he had. But then again, the Labour Party of the day, for all its faults, wasn’t Anthony Charles Lynton Blair’s or James Gordon Brown’s «New Labour», now was it….


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By Tom Edgar, January 1, 2010 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

I nearly puked when I read. “He was the most likable.”

By whom?  Certainly not Eisenhower nor any other military man.Churchill wasn’t even liked at school and his personal manners were appalling. He presided over and was responsible for more failures and serious losses than any other single figure both in WW1 and WW2. The Socialist Ernie Bevin was his power for war production for which Winnie claimed the success. It is conveniently ignored that the British Government in WW2 was a COALITION Government. Not a Churchill Government.

Political Philosophy?  He sure did have one.  Winston Churchill was its name.  Party switching and policy dexterity the aim. If there was one consistency it was maintaining the Royal and Imperial status quo.  Remember the infamous speech when condemning the Miners strike, during the depression, mostly ex WW1 veterans.“Give me a Brigade of Guards and I’ll drive the scum under the earth.”  He it was who conceived and gave birth to that lowest of all British military concepts. “The Black and Tans.” Solely brought into existence to terrorise and subjugate the recalcitrant Irish.  He was the one who. “Brilliantly” had the idea of publishing that Doodle bugs were falling far north of their targets in London so the Germans reduced the range and had them fall on the predominantly working class S E London, instead of the Northern more affluent areas.(He also lived there). I remember the stirring speeches referring to the Merchant Seamen as heroes, then after the war led the charge by shipowners to reduce their wages.
Sour Grapes? You bet. I lived in S E London, and was a victim. I was also one of those Merchant Seamen.

Failings of Churchill.  There is a massive tome that could be written.  But like the dirty linen and failings of the “Royals” It won’t be done.

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By race_to_the_bottom, January 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

P.T. says:

“The Soviets (despite Stalin’s blundering) were the ones who primarily defeated the Nazis.  However, the British were already at war while the Nazis and Soviets were allies.  And the U.S. fought in the Pacific theater as well as the Atlantic.”

True, Stalin should have let Zhukov run the war, but no knowledgeable person would seriously state that the Soviets and the Nazis were “allies”. It is well known that the USSR had been trying to create an antifascist front with the non-fascist states of Europe all during the mid to late 30’s. The British, especially, were not interested and dragged their feet. Why? Because the British ruling class was essentially pro-Nazi, mainly because the Nazis had vowed to destroy the USSR. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact bought time.

As for the British being at war since 1939;  that is a cruel joke. Remember the Phony War where the Nazis were so sure that Britain and France would do nothing when Poland was raped? And yes, the Soviets did occupy eastern Poland in the process. A good move, under the circumstances.

As for the US fighting in the Pacific, that was a separate war, and a less important one at that in which the fate of the world did not hang in the balance. It was merely another war of imperialist aggression, more akin to WW 1 than the titanic struggle between fascist barbarism and humanity which was being waged on the eastern front. This is not to say that US efforts against Japan were not on the right side of history, but that they were of a secondary nature.

Ask yourself: what would have happened if Japan had continued to occupy Southeast Asia, the Philippines and the various islands? It would have gone something like this? Eventually, the Soviets, as they did, would have launched an assault in Manchuria and armed Mao to the teeth and destroyed the Japanese forces in China. Next, the combined might of the Soviet equipment and Chinese armies could have armed Ho Chi Minh’s forces in Indochina to defeat the Japanese there. US naval and air support would have been helpful here.

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By yonian, January 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

“perspective biographer”?
I suppose a biographer should have a sense of perspective.

Or did you mean “prospective”?

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By P. T., January 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

“After two years of stalling on opening a front in Western Europe, the US and Britain put a few divisions across the Channel against the weakened fascists while the Soviet offensive was rolling up the fascists in eastern Poland.”

The Soviets (despite Stalin’s blundering) were the ones who primarily defeated the Nazis.  However, the British were already at war while the Nazis and Soviets were allies.  And the U.S. fought in the Pacific theater as well as the Atlantic.

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By race_to_the_bottom, January 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Mike3 sums up the truth in the last paragraph of his post. I read somewhere that when some German general was asked after the war when he realized the war was lost he answered in one word, “Moscow”. Operation Barbarossa had failed.

After two years of stalling on opening a front in Western Europe, the US and Britain put a few divisions across the Channel against the weakened fascists while the Soviet offensive was rolling up the fascists in eastern Poland. Clearly, the Soviets could have armed the peoples of the occupied and fascist ruled countries along the way and swept all the way to Portugal, destroying the Franco and Salazar dictatatorships. Reconstituting the French army probably would not have been too difficult. It had been disarmed virtually intact in 1940. The US and Britain really didn’t need to land troops on the beaches. If they wanted to help, their massive air armadas would have been all that was necessary. Or they could have joined in after the Nazis had been attacked and the coastal defenses destroyed from the rear.

The D-Day operation was more an anticommunist operation than an antifascist operation. Its goal was to save capitalism in Europe.

Hence we have the complete distortion of the history of WW 2. Most people in the US think that the D-Day operation is what liberated Europe and defeated Germans. Not the fascists, but the Germans. A critical distinction.

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By M Henri Day, January 1, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

«The minor disaster at Dieppe in Norway ...» is it the reviewer (Allan Barra) or the author of the book being reviewed (Paul Johnson) who reveals so singular a misunderstanding of European geography ? Dieppe, of course, is located in France, and while the ill-conceived raid on it may well be considered «minor» among all the major disasters WW II brought in its train, Churchill’s advocacy of mining the harbour of Narvik in Norway- vital to the Germans due to the iron ore from Swedish mines shipped from that port - which was surely known to the Germans, probably played a major role in the German decision to invade and occupy Norway and Denmark. Churchill talked a good fight, but his reputation as a military strategist or tactician would seem exaggerated….


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By ee87, January 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How about evil, Brit scumbag?  It was Churchill more than anyone else who
defeated FDR’s plans for post WWII.  Who even has ever heard of FDR’s Four
Freedoms speech (% wise)?

Churchill, Britain and the other colonial powers defeated the revolutionary
potential of democracy.

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By J. Ernst Siegenthaler, January 1, 2010 at 11:59 am Link to this comment
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Mike3 is absolutely correct. WWII was indeed won by the nations led by Eisenhower and Stalin.  However, I strongly recommend John Lukacs’ book “Five Days in London May 1940” (only 219 pages). Churchill did not “win” the war, but he could have lost it. His fortitude and defiance saved the day in the cabinet and overcame the defeatism which, in truth, was present in the UK. I was a child in London during the war and I can attest to that.

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By johannes, January 1, 2010 at 11:48 am Link to this comment

Give a look to the Boer wars in south Africa, reed about the not so nice role of the Englisch, when they did see they where loosing against the Boers, who where cunningly and bether fighters as the Englisch.

Then the created the first concentration camps for the woman and children of the Boers, and leth them die slowly from hunger and illnesses, so on the end the Boers had to give in.

Churchill did not fire a shot, he played the journalist, and made up his own history of escape,
he had as Obama a great oratorical talent and lots of money and thats always helping.

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By Mundt, January 1, 2010 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

Less verbiage could sum up Churchill. How about racist, imperialist, self-serving warmonger, and shameless windbag?

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By Mike3, January 1, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

Anglophile Americans tend to look at aspects of the UK with stars in their eyes. Thankfully not too many truthdigers. I was watching a TV program filming the trooping of the color in London when an American woman tourist turns to the camera and announces passionately that she “honors the Queen”. Jesus: honors the Queen!?! Only an American can say anything as embarrassing as that. Okay, I’m being pedantic, Americans use the English language differently – but still, you get my drift?

Yes Churchill was a great man (who saw the danger of Hitler etc.) especially if we compare him with the assholes in London and Washington today. Okay a bit of a racist but a British racist, the term “wog” did not have the brutal racial history of America’s “nigger”. But there is a tendency to overrate him especially within the context of the war.

Yes there was the Battle of Britain, Spitfires, the D-Day landings and John Wayne and “fight them on the beaches”, but the country that really broke the back of Hitler’s Weirmacht was Russia and Stalin. It was at Stalingrad that Hitler lost his entire 6th Army and three months later we had the largest tank and artillery battle that has ever to take place at Kursk, where the best of the German panzers were stopped by the Russians, the savvy German generals knew the war was over – the rest is Hollywood and a side dish. But hay, nothing wrong with fantasy.

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By Doug Matthews, January 1, 2010 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dieppe is in France, not Norway.

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By Beer Doc, January 1, 2010 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

editing note on thebeerdoctor’s comment “which cause” used twice was a typo redundancy, but please note Churchill’s “would spread a lively terror”.
Not what is the definition of a terrorist?

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By thebeerdoctor, January 1, 2010 at 4:29 am Link to this comment

Great Man?

“I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases: gases can be used which cause which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

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By P. T., January 1, 2010 at 12:46 am Link to this comment

Winston Churchill fronted for his country’s ruling class.  There is nothing especially heroic in acting as one would expect.  The British had the world, and the Germans (in World Wars I and II) wanted it.  However, the British ultimately lost their empire and were displaced by the Americans.

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