For neither Man nor Angel can discern/ Hypocrisie, the only evil that walks/ Invisible
While our current health secretory, and Freudian slip triggerer, Jeremy Hunt was President of the Oxford Conservatives, terrorist affiliate Adolfo Calero was wined and dined by the society. Calero provided financial and political support to the Contras, that Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary force known for, among many such outrages, ethnic cleansing, rape campaigns and torture. But this didn’t matter, for the great bulk of Oxford University Tory contingent (for there was dissent), he was an honoured guest.
It must take some gall to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of sympathising with terrorists, knowing that such colourful characters as Calero can claim to once sharing a bill. But this is, as recent events have only confirmed, what the Tories are: brazen Terrorist Sympathisers.
A little has been made of how the Conservative Party’s new partner, the DUP, has been associated with armed thugs.As George Dangerfield has shown, the Tories were aligned with Orange terror from the beginning. The DUP’s forebears were, surprisingly, not as pro-Union as all that. They disliked London, resented oversight from the old country (note how Churchill hounded away from a “northern” podium). However they hated Irish independence and republicanism and Catholics more, and that they shared with the Tories. And so, with astonishing cynicism, the Conservatives took the opportunity to undermine – the tepid, but nonetheless real – Liberal progress toward “home rule” or independence. Aligning themselves with, and lending legitimacy to, militant Protestantism (it was only with this Blue-Orange alliance that talk of separating the Six Counties came about). This went from the out and out shows of solidarity in the form of the Black and Tans, to the covert Thatcherite support for rightist paramilitaries during the Troubles.
It was with Thatcher that the Conservatives wore their terroristic sympathies with pride. Suharto (“we are best of friends”), Pinochet (who she described as a champion of democracy), South Africa’s government (by undermining the boycott campaign) and Saddam were all given Downing Street’s approval, and more importantly: access to the world’s “best” manufacturers, those based in the UK.
The Iron Lady fully supported terrorists which had entire state apparatuses behind them. Suhurto, an oddly overlooked monster of the 20th century, used British-made arms – and naval escort – to carry out a murder campaign that brings to mind recent events in the Philippines, though immeasurably worse. Up to a million people were murdered by the Indonesian secret police and army (the Killing Fields is a must watch for those interested in finding out more). East Timor, as well as “internal suppression”, was practically wiped off the map in a genocidal campaign that implicates Australia and the US too.
In comparison, Jeremy Corbyn declared that, for Irish peace talks to be successful, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army had to play a part. If you consider that shocking, then prepare yourself: despite outward fulminations, Thatcher’s government were doing just that, carrying out secret talks with the IRA. If advocacy equals sympathy and damnation, then what’s this?
Today the Saudis use British arms to lay waste to Yemen’s infrastructure and citizenry. Hospitals are being rocketed, aid withheld, and NGOs and the UN are trying to alleviate the effects of a terrible – but entirely predictable – famine. This is what happens when the world’s most sophisticated weaponry is used against one of its poorest nations. Theresa May holds the receipts.
Labour and Corbyn supporters as “terrorist sympathisers” is one of the Conservatives’ most returned to talking points (often when the formers suggest there might be a relation between our foreign policy and how we’re perceived globally). The riposte ought to go, “I refuse to be lectured to by people like you”.
As the red ink of incrimination between Trump and the Axis figureheads grows thicker, there are those on the Right who wish to draw our eyes away, and to loftier heights. An immigration speech of his is described as “Churchillian” (Ann Coulter); his resolute determination brings to mind the British leader’s, writes Jerry Falwell Jr.; and Robert Davi, in an open love letter, exclaims that Winston Churchill’s very essence is now part of The Donald (occupying in the interim in – you’ve guessed it: Ronald Reagan).
On the face of it it’s – as so much of it is – absurd. One employed great oratory skill, and helped rally a sizeable number of those nestled between Ireland and Indochina against the Nazi war machine. While, for the other, the simplest of sentences prove to be just impossible.
“I will be… the greatest jobs president that God ever created, I tell you that.”
It’s odd that Churchill’s name crops up with such regularity in American debate; and in what deferential tones its recycled. When a president is imagined to be courageous or proficient at smiting evil, he’s “Churchillian”. While there is seldom a wrong-headed, “dovish” foreign policy that doesn’t trigger a chorus of Munich!, followed by allusions to the intransigent canine. The US has her own home-grown stock of political metaphors, so what’s with the reliance on this particular old dog?
Much, perhaps, comes out of Churchill being an explicit advocate of Pax Americana just when Rule Britannia was becoming less than an echo – a long story best left for another time. Right now, I’m going to take Trump’s fawners at face value, for no other reason than amusements are hard to find in this circus of horrors.
How Does Trump Compare?
In the United Kingdom, our former prime minister is seldom dragged out of the ground for the purposes of prop, and when he is, it is often with the understanding that we’re dealing with someone complex and irritatingly contradictory. Sure, the man had a mastery of the language, and he did more than most to end the British Establishment’s complacency toward Hitlerism. But, we remind ourselves, as high and as large as his Zeppelin-like legacy may fly, there’s an unmistakable, sun-starved underbelly.
Churchill only turned his spluttering jowls toward, and exercised them against, the Third Reich after it had helped cannibalise Spain’s Republic and was well on its way to eradicating German Reds. So too, his views on women and class were abhorrent; those on race reactionary in the extreme – dated even for someone ‘of his time’… So wait, surely Falwell’s onto something? Well yes, but no, not really.
Communication is an obvious deficit – he possesses the vernacular of a 4 grader, literally – but Trump also lacks the wit and insight of the British patriarch. Can you imagine Trump ever responding to the charge, “you are drunk, and what’s more you are disgustingly drunk” with:
‘My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.’
Not only would he be incapable of stringing that many words together, we learn from his GP that Trump, very much unlike the other, doesn’t drink. If you weren’t already convinced of his inability to hold office, this ought to do it.
Trump’s father Fred was a self-made millionaire (well, as singular as these things can be), and a racist. A witness to both, Woody Guthrie used to sing: “Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower / Where no black folks come to roam.” And so it seems that his son inherited the big bucks and bigotry without picking up any of Old Man Trump‘s guile or business sense – things that made Churchill such a successful politician of the Right. Deborah Friedell of the London Review of Books writes,
Bloomberg puts Trump’s current net worth at $2.9 billion, Forbes at $4.1 billion. The National Journal has worked out that if Trump had just put his father’s money in a mutual fund that tracked the S&P 500 and spent his career finger-painting, he’d have $8 billion.
So what about policy?
There are two great themes which, I think, we can take from Churchill the Statesman. The first, even with his garbled “I love war” declaration earlier this year, is difficult to see in Trump: war and empire. Empire– a word which has a sort of Lord Voldemort quality in the States – is loved most of all, and mostly, by Neoconservatives. Their spokesmen have either denounced the Republican nominee, as is the case with Wolfowitz and McCain, or very reluctantly joined him. Reluctant because for every pro-war and -expansion remark Trump has made, there have been three contrary statements. Inconsistency may be fine on most issues, but not on the most important question of all. No, “you’re either with us or against us”. Churchill could be equally stubborn of questions of imperialism.
The second aspect is where Coulter and co. are on safer ground: racism and nationalism. Churchill initially welcomed the National Socialists and their blood-and-soil rhetoric, though was wary of their habit of finding and identifying with Germans beyond their borders. He even came to admire Josef Stalin’s sense of national purpose – it was resulting in plenty of dead communists. Although he could never overcome his fear of the Soviet experiment and those who took inspiration from it.
We see in Trump the same instinct to align with reaction. He has put in a good word about Saddam, Assad and Putin – staunch defenders of the Fatherland all – and, according to an ex-wife, kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches by his bedside. (In his defence, it’s unlikely that he ever read past the 140 character mark.) If you’ll allow me an aside: would it be outlandish to suggest that someone who has championed torture, the police state and the un-peopling of minorities, may, upon incumbency, allow admiration to become emulation?
But even here a comparison would be strained. Churchill sided with reactionary elements out of racial solidarity or reasons of state, not because he personally found the authoritarian inherently appealing or aspiring. He famously said that he thought democracy was the least worst form of government… whereas Trump,
“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all the people of the United States that I would totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election if I win”
Not Quite Dead Right
Trump is not trying to channel Churchill (from what I can tell he isn’t even aware that the latter existed, or of anything B.T. for that matter). But his imported mentor certainly tries to. Nigel Farage went to the US following the first presidential “debate” to tutor Donald in the ways of greatness a la Truman at Fulton. Again, an Englishman playing the wise old Greek in the new Rome. Churchill’s heirs have repudiated Farage – “he’s like Donald Trump without the charm” – but there is a tradition of xenophobia and racism that can tracked back from UKIP to old man via the Tory right, the National Front and other undesirables.
In his time, Churchill promised the people of Britain they would always possess an empire headed up by responsible Anglo-Saxons. Under such tutelage the sun would never set on Pax Britannia. And he was honest enough among friends and to his readers, if not publicly, to include Ernest Jones’ appendage: neither would the blood ever dry, “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror”.
There was no way he could keep this promise, even with, or possibly because of, American stewardship. To believe it required a distorted view of reality, and a dread that irrelevance was looming. Similarly, Trump’s pledges to bring back manufacturing jobs, a racist police state and good ol’ conservative values (couldn’t quite add “family” to that) rely on suspensions of disbelief. So here, finally, are we onto something concrete – a shared trait between bulldog and ferret?
Both men have made promises they couldn’t – or can’t – possibly keep to adoring crowds which are fearful, not just of their future, but of their present. Or to put it in the vague terms the comparison deserves, both are vertebrates revered by the invertebrate.
Economy = downgraded to that of a “developing” country.
Society = ridden by fear and abuse.
Our politics = seized by cynicism, opportunism and mutually assured destruction.
This, all of it, our country chose.
We, those on the Remain side of the argument, seriously misjudged our neighbours and compatriots: many of them really are that stupid. And, no – they cannot be given the benefit of the doubt. Figures from the left, right and centre warned them, the economic institutions and trade unions warned them, the professors and cultural figures warned them, NATO, USA (Trump excluded), Norway’s PM warned them. Warned them what our country would become.
And, nay again, they themselves cannot suddenly pretend that their political analysis is just as deep and deserving of respect as the above.
(In fact, the only figures of note which supported Brexit appeared to be Putin – a long and bitter hater of the EU – and ISIS. The latter has since praised Britain’s move.)
As much as I cannot abide the cult which has slivered up upon and about the grave of that vicious fat dog, Churchill’s words are playing on repeat in my inner ear,
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter
This may help you make sense of Michael Gove’s insight:
…People in this country have had enough of experts
You really have met a cultural incline when expert has become a dirty word, sewn into our porch alongside those other faux-pas (excuse my French) “‘ealth and safety” and “political correctness”.
Of course I’m being unfair: 52% is barely a majority of the voting population, and fairly meaningless of the whole. But it is demonstrative of that cultural strain, long nurtured by demagogues and flustered Cameroons, in this United Kingdom: anti-Brussels, anti-immigrant, anti-Other – becoming something more than a nuance. A new and dangerous voting block that Westminster has no idea of how to counter-act (and may soon not wish to).
A good number of those who put a cross next to Leave seem to have sincerely thought their choice meant, “send the Poles, Pakis and… uh, Polynesians home” (whatever that means). Taking “their” country back so they can set it back on course to backwaterdom, which Britain momentarily detoured from post-WWII. There in the swamp that results they can fester and congeal, filling the pungent air with their pungent thoughts.
And it’s this demographic which knows the least about the history and culture of Britain. When they talk of defending its culture they are almost certainly referring to football hooliganism, shit larger and trash TV – and not the domains of Tolkien, verses of Auden, those skyscapes of Turner. Nor do they acknowledge the Levelers, Chartists and the heroes of the Enlightenment, without which their suffrage would be denied.
(I mean really, just take a look at Britain First’s take on the Peasant’s Revolt here)
Ezra Pound may have been writing of his country of birth, but there is something in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley which does apply here and now, in this Blighted realm where the 52ers reign:
No, hardly, but, seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn;
Paddy: Winston Churchill, widely regarded as one of the greatest and most powerful patriarchs of the 20th century, is also drawn upon to symbolise the noble underdog – the outgunned warrior defending his patch against the hoard.
But for a great many others the British Bulldog conjures up a less settling image: a racist reactionary responsible for unforgivable crimes, not least among them helping initiate a series of events which nearly destroyed our planet.
Churchill’s projection looms large long after his death and, although the cult which still surrounds him is loath to admit it, casts a dark shadow.
Pole: Another member of the 20th century triumvirate, Joseph Stalin. A man, who in his person represented the iron will of the Soviet Union and who led the Russian people through the turmoil of World War 2, until the final fall of Nazi Germany, to which he contributed greatly.
Unlike Churchill, he is mostly known for his reign of terror, fuelled by paranoia and a quest for absolute power. Surely it cannot be denied that Stalin was the worst human being of the previous century. And that’s saying a lot. After all we are talking about the period of history which included people like Hitler, Chairman Mao and a plethora of other ruthless dictators.
Paddy: Ever since Churchill grew out of that stage of human development where everyone looks like a miniature Winston, he was attempting with all of his might to be the biggest bigot in the vicinity. In Tory England that took quite a bit of doing.
He violently despised every one not of his class and colour. To him, the Irish, brazen enough to demand independence, were barbarians; the indolent Indians, unfortunately sharing the same defect of the paddies, deserved the very worst English grenadiers could lob at them; anyone suspected of being to the left of Mussolini (that great wartime ally of his, Franklin D. Roosevelt, included) were suspect and should, if at all possible, be covertly undermined or overtly thrown to the wolves. The miners who asked for better work conditions and received volleys of rifle fire in return, knew this better than most.
Striking miners in Tonypandy, 1910
No doubt more crimes of this saggy aristocratic alcoholic will come to light as we continue but, for now, it’s important I clarify what I wrote before: Churchill, ever giddy on dispensing of blood and tears of others, did more than any other person to bring about the Cold War.
At Fulton, having just reluctantly handed over the reins of Empire to our American cousins, implanted in their leaders’ minds the idea of a War To End All Wars – but for real this time. What later became misleadingly called the Cold War, at several points, almost caused a nuclear holocaust (something Stalin took steps to avert, whatever else one may say of him – see his plan of a unified Germany).
The ladies of High Society in Britain couldn’t excite this old curmudgeon but the thought of thousands of charred corpses (preferably brown) did. The most one could say of this douchebag, as one could not say of most notorious mass murderers, is he did it with some panache.
Pole: You forgot to mention all of the gulags, forced famines, show trials, political purges, executions carried out by secret police and arrests in the middle of the night Churchill was responsible for. Oh, wait, that wasn’t Churchill at all, it was Stalin. As bad as Churchill might’ve been, he can’t really be compared to Mr. Awesome Moustache.
Did Churchill eliminate his political rivals by having them executed by the NKVD or assassinated from the other side of the globe? Did he name streets, plazas and entire cities after himself and commission massive statues of his chubby self in order to create a cult in his honour? Did he do horrific things to maintain an absolute, despotic power? Did he have a special room where people could clean themselves after meeting with him? No. Again, that was Stalin.
Saying that Churchill was worse than Stalin is like saying that getting kicked in the balls is worse than passing a kidney stone.
Paddy: Urine tracts aside, I am not surprised that Churchill didn’t employ the services of the NKVD considering they were operating on the other side of his Iron Curtain. And besides he had MI5 to do his dirty work. Under Churchill’s watchful eye, MI5 perfected the Five Techniques torture regime, sought by brutal governments everywhere. During WWII, a system a “Gestapo-like” torture was carried out on POWs (I refer you to Ian Cobain’s Cruel Britannia). Innocent the Bulldog was not.
This should be unsurprising to anyone who knows their history, the English conceived most of the instruments of repression employed by totalitarian Germany and Russia, the concentration camp included.
And that’s what Churchill personified in spades – Western Imperialism at its very worst.
The Right Honourable Sir Winston Churchill KG OM CH TD DL et al.
It is important in this discussion to not simply talk of individuals, we must look at what they represent. Absolutely, on a personal level, Churchill would have provided better companionship than the Great Bear (if you were white). If only because a degree of civility had been established among Britain’s elite that was yet to emerge in the Soviet leadership.
In India and Africa and East Asia, Churchill and his fellow ideologues behaved like Nazis. George Orwell’s hatred for fascism and racism developed during his service in the down-trodden British possession of Burma, where hangings and sadistic abuse of the locals was frequent. Yet again, the Brits were the originals.
Look, as with many atheists say in relation to god, I would like to believe in Churchill. It’s those facts that just keep getting in the way. He was a bridge between two disgraceful worlds – that of European colonialism and that of American global hegemony. To use a capitalist analogy he would no doubt resent, Stalin(ism) is Mickey Mouse in comparison.
Pole: For how many deaths has Churchill been responsible for? I don’t think anyone can claim more than papa Joseph (except Mao, although that’s mostly due to bad economic decisions not deliberate actions). There is still some debate about the exact number, but most seem to agree it was approx. 20 million. The lucky ones were shot in the back of the head and then buried in a ditch. Others either starved, froze or were worked to death.
MI5 may have conducted torture, like every other intelligence agency in the history of mankind, but they did so to extract actual information, sometimes crucial to the war effort. The NKVD did so to force people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit, so they then could be sentenced during show trials. I don’t remember any time when a MI5 agent stripped a woman, covered her private parts in honey and tied her to a tree or a post near an anthill. You can imagine what happened to her. All because she was a prisoner in a gulag and refused to have sex with the NKVD officers in charge.
Concentration camps and mass shootings of protesting miners are horrific, but where is the British equivalent of Katyn? Did Churchill order the murder of about 22 thousand POWs, priests and members of the intelligentsia, who were then buried in a mass grave, some of them still alive? As much as death toll is concerned, I don’t think Churchill comes even close to Stalin.
Paddy: I see you have ignored my suggestion to also consider the related ideologies of both men. If you insist on a score chart of death tolls, however distasteful, I will surely have to submit.
The MI5 – which, I see, you’re only too happy to act as apologist on behalf of – wasn’t the only group of sadists Churchill had to hand. The Black and Tans, brainchild of the infamous drunk, certainly give Stalin’s goons a run for their money. Ex-soldiers, ex-convicts and psychopaths – lesser breeds without the law if ever there was – were unleashed on the Irish citizenry during his time as Minister of War. Rape, murder and robbery were all-too-common in an effort to pacify the natives. I could recite individual cases for maximum emotional impact, but it seems cheap.
There was also plenty of politically-motivated espionage, with those Brits who were suspiciously too anti-Nazi (because, for the Tories, fascism was always preferable to democracy abroad – appeasement would better be called acceptance) finding themselves subject to all sorts of monitoring and intimidation. Victims included the intellectual greats Claud Cockburn, EP Thompson and John Steinbeck.
Everyone in the West knows of Mao and Stalin’s famines, but the one Churchill presided over in the Crown Jewel of the Empire? There were three million deaths all told, and to the very end Churchill was ordering “fakir” produced food onto ships, to become exports. (As was done in Eire when spuds caught the plague.) Worse still, he denied relief from the “responsible white men” of Canada and the States. All this was done despite protests from the Indian Secretary of State, who regarded the PM’s policies as “Hitler-like”. If the famine were so bad, Winston asked, why hadn’t Gandhi starved?
Ukraine isn’t the only victim of Machiavellian agriculture policies. Nor genocide,
I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
(Again, remind you of anyone?)
Perhaps we ought to be thankful the British Empire declined when it did because, given the track record and rhetoric, if they had the power Stalin had amassed, Churchill and his cabal would have had no qualms about enacting genocide on all those coolies, niggers and Arab barbarians getting dangerous ideas of liberty post-1945.
Pole: You claim that if Churchill had the sort of power Stalin had he would be more than happy to cause some genocide. But he fucking didn’t! Using the “if” argument is nonsensical.
You want to bring famine into that? In this case it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. While it is true that Churchill didn’t do fuck-all about it, and in fact made it worse, Stalin’s policies caused famine in Ukraine. He exported most of grain in the foreign markets to pay for his massive industrialization scheme which itself caused deaths and had devastating effects to the environment. The famine wasn’t a result of bad governance, rather it was a conscious plan to stamp down any talk of Ukrainian independence. Starving people don’t make good freedom fighters. There may have been about 3 million deaths in India but there were 7 million deaths in Ukraine… numbers don’t lie.
Churchill was in favour of white male supremacy, Stalin was into Russian supremacy. The latter implemented the policy of russification: Russian language and customs were forced upon non-Russian inhabitants of the Soviet Union, often at the price of sacrificing their own culture. Lenin and his Bolsheviks took land from the aristocracy and gave it to the peasants who had been working their fields for generations, ending the medieval feudalism in Russia. Stalin’s collectivisation has reversed that, effectively turning those peasants back into serfs. Factory workers didn’t have it any better either. Poor and dangerous work conditions were present everywhere. Anyone who even thought of complaining was sent to a gulag. Those policies have spread to the other socialist republics like Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia – not to the same extent as in the Soviet Union, but still.
Churchill was a racist, anti-Semitic bigot, fair enough. That’s horrible. The only reason why you can’t say that about Stalin is because he didn’t single out any particular ethnic or religious group as targets of his murderous tendencies. He was just as likely to kill a member of the Communist Party (including the Supreme Commander of the Red Army) as a peasant living in the middle of nowhere.
If you really want to talk about ideologies, let’s talk about ideologies. Churchill’s European colonialism involved the white man’s dominance, exploitation and to some extent extermination of indigenous people. Stalinism involved the expansion of Soviet rule over the world, using terror to maintain order and power, russification of local populace, and spreading the cult of Stalin.
Under Churchill’s imperialist rule, the British people could enjoy such things as the freedom of speech and religion while not having to fear having a bag pulled over their head and being dragged away, never to be seen again. Trials of the so called “enemies of the state” in Soviet republics were closer to those carried out by the Inquisition than those in any modern justice system.
Stalin wasn’t such a good and inspirational speaker as Churchill so finding extensive quotes is difficult. I’d like to use just one however: “Death solves all problems, no man – no problem”, said by a man for whom any anonymous accusation or an imaginary threat caused by paranoia was enough to send people to unmarked graves, lost forever.
Paddy: I suppose I should be heartened that you did not conflate Stalinism with the proud tradition of socialism, as so many do. You are right to draw attention to the strongly nationalist strain running through his ideological system. So you can see this as something of a concession if you like: yes, when it comes to brutal dictatorship few can come close to Stalin’s standard.
But there are many ways to act rotten and in that department the British Establishment possessed – and still maintain with considerable vigour, as we learn to our dismay with every new child abuse scandal – a special prowess. For every Soviet crime you throw my way I can lob back a dozen more which Churchill either advocated or initiated. And, in some notable cases, his decisions carried greater weight and the potential for greater destruction.
It is no exaggeration to say that if, contrary to Churchill’s wishes, Britain and France intervened to aid the fledgling Spanish Republic in 1936 the world might have been spared the worst excesses of Nazism. The world war might have been adverted. On the Iberian Peninsula Hitler, Mussolini and Franco perfected *their* reigns of terror – bombing of civilians, mass internment, indoctrination.
Churchill was in a position to do something to stop Hitler when the task would’ve been far easier than it later turned out to be, but he didn’t, because deep down in every Tory sits the same masochistic sickness that also drove the goose-steppers of the Third Reich. He was certainly no great lover of the democratic system it’s wrongly assumed he saved.
And I know I’m playing another “if only things were different” game but my point stands – Churchill’s intentions were just as savage, and if not worst at times, than Stalin’s. Besides, it’s unfair to deny a leftist his “what if” scenarios, it’s about the only thing that keeps us sane (considering that history stubbornly keeps choosing the wrong path).
We could play tit-for-tat all day (I haven’t even got to Churchill’s fantasies of gassing Kurds, or his entirely unnecessary mass-bombing of German cities) but that will get us no-where. I am still more interested in what the men personified.
Churchill was the moral author of the nuclear stand-off which, by sheer luck and a Russian called Stanislav Petrov, hasn’t turned us all to cinder. Although Churchill had a soft spot for ol’ Joe, he utterly despised the Communism he was supposed to stand for. Before WWII had even come to a close he had Operation Unthinkable drawn up, a plan to sneak-attack the USSR.
Nothing rattled Churchill’s cage more than the thought of socialised health and – one dreads to think – equality. Old habits die hard and aristocracy even harder. To maintain the shell of the old landed gentry system Churchill was prepared to see the world burn.
Unable to hold on to his sun and blood-soaked empire following the war, Churchill came to embrace at least one former group of colonial possessions: the Yanks. These “responsible white men” could carry the torch for Blighty (reimagined romantically as the wise old Greeks in this new special relationship). Eventually they learnt to do it with gusto, gaining some of the greatest prizes on Earth: the Middle East, East Asia and a monopoly over the Western Hemisphere, all with minimal effort.
The Vietnamese, Cambodians, Congolese, South Africans, Cubans, Chileans, Indonesians, Iranians, Angolans, Nicaraguans, Bolivians, Haitians, Deigo Garcians, Iraqis and Palestinians never quite recovered from the shockwaves this transition of imperial rule brought, nurtured by the Bulldog himself.
So there you have it, Churchill’s legacy. A New Rome and impending doom.
The first time the White House burned
Pole: If the US is the New Rome, than the USSR is the Vandalic or Hunnic horde, coming from the East to take new lands and establish new order, while looting and pillaging everything in its path. The new order wouldn’t be the sweet, sweet socialism you are so fond of. It would be a mutated, perverse version of it, born in a mind ravaged by paranoia and a hunger for absolute power.
Vandals sacking Rome
Churchill’s plan to attack the Soviet Union didn’t come from his hatred towards communism, not entirely at least. He didn’t trust Stalin, with good reason. After all, he has broken the word he’s given at Yalta. After liberating the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, Stalin promised only to help them re-establish their own governments. They were supposed to be in the Soviet zone of influence with new borders, but remain pretty much independent. Instead, NKVD followed the Red Army, installing communist regimes, wherever it passed. Countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Hungary became little more than puppet states of Mother Russia. If Stalin was allowed to progress further West, George VI and his entire family would have likely been executed, United Kingdom would’ve been transformed into People’s Republic of Great Britain, and secret police officers would drag people out of their beds in the middle of the night.
Stalin also had his own plan of invading the West. Former soviet intelligence officer, Vladimir Rezun under a pen name Viktor Suvorov, wrote in a few books about his theory about Stalin’s plans. The only difference is, Stalin planned to do that a lot earlier, but Hitler’s invasion in 1941 has stopped him. I have no doubt that if “Operation Barbarossa” didn’t happen, the Red Army would have invaded German occupied territories and continued westward, until it reached the Atlantic.
It is easy to criticise people for making decisions with unforeseeable and unintentional consequences. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. In 1936, France and Britain, probably just wanted to avoid another global war. I’m sure if they knew that Nazis will be building death camps, they would have intervened a lot sooner and Dunkirk disaster would have been avoided.
Captain Hindsight to the rescue!
Yet again, you use the “what if” argument, and yet again I am forced to point out its lack of sense.
Let us finish this discussion here. Otherwise we could go for far longer than I care to keep repeating: 20 million deaths.
Paddy: It seems a wall still exists between East and West, however immaterial. Although to see the ideological trading its ghostly state has brought about is entertaining. So, if you truly believe humanitarian concerns were ever a driving force in British and French foreign policy considerations in the 1930-40s or otherwise, we’re going to need a bigger ladder.