What Would Winston Churchill Think of Obama?

May 30th, 2010

By Dan Miller

Having read Churchill’s The Gathering Storm for the third or fourth time, it strikes me as frighteningly inauspicious, and not only for the United States today. Churchill was a leading proponent of stopping Hitler before stopping him would involve the massive devastation inflicted on much of the world when World War II eventually came. He noted:

We must regard as deeply blameworthy before history … [all British parties] during this fatal period. Delight in smooth-sounding platitudes, refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the State, genuine love of peace and pathetic belief that love can be its sole foundation … the strong and violent pacifism which at this time dominated the Labour-Socialist Party, the utter devotion of the Liberals to sentiment apart from reality … constituted a picture of British fatuity and fecklessness which, though devoid of guile, was not devoid of guilt, and, though free from wickedness or evil design, played a definite part in unleashing upon the world of horrors and miseries which even so far as they have unfolded, are already beyond comparison in human experience.

Far worse horrors and miseries are now, decades later, easily possible. The world has changed dramatically and we are now in an exponential age. Now, we have little more than “Churchillian resolution in the face of untrammeled cow flatulence” and the horrors of global warming; this seems a misplaced priority. History remains important — perhaps to a greater extent than ever before.

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5 Responses to “What Would Winston Churchill Think of Obama?”

  1. Dan Miller |

    According to that famous author Anon, “Every time history repeats itself the price goes up.”

    During a debate at the House of Commons in 1934 on Britain’s inadequate air defenses, Churchill recalled but refrained from reciting some lines remembered from youth about a railway accident:

    Who is in charge of the clattering train?
    The axles creak and the couplings strain;
    And the pace is hot, and the points are near,
    And Sleep has deadened the driver’s ear;
    And the signals flash through the night in vain,
    For Death is in charge of the clattering train.

    I think there is, or at least should be, a legitimate concern that we are passengers on the train.

  2. larry ennis |

    The runaway train scenario is one of my favorites. We are indeed being towed along in this headlong rush to suicide by ballot. Even those of us that opposed this administration are doomed to suffer the same fate as those who did not.

    Have you ever in your life seen our national political system exposed more for the whore it really is. Votes openly bought and sold, laws drafted and passed behind closed doors, the attempted buying and selling of political positions being past off as normal day to day Washington politics, efforts to muzzle the press and the open contempt for the voters in general.

    The train rolls ever onward toward its deadly destination.

  3. Dan Miller |


    Maybe the past looks better than either the present or the future just because I’m getting old and see it through a distorted lens. I hope that’s the case. Anyway, here is something to bring back good memories. We need them, desperately; or at least I do.

    Maybe some day, there will be blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover and even those of us who don’t believe in Him can join in singing God Bless America.

  4. Dan Miller |

    This article does not augur well for peace in our time. It finds a parallel of sorts to Chamberlain and Czechoslovakia and notes,

    Beyond a few flutters in the stock markets, especially in Asia, much of the world has carried on worrying more about the euro and BP’s oil spill than a new Korean war, despite 2010 being the 60th anniversary of the start of the old one.

    It is time to worry rather more, by focusing instead on China and its policy towards North Korea. For what China’s reaction should tell us is that China’s interests in the Korean Peninsula are different from those of the West, of South Korea or of Japan. And in that divergence of interest lies danger: it makes North Korea the likeliest flashpoint for a potential conflict between China and America.

    * * * *

    Communication between the Chinese and American militaries remains patchy, with efforts to set up hotlines and the like slow to come to fruition. The chances of a misunderstanding in a moment of tension are high. Communication between the political leaderships is better, if still very stilted. The Cheonan sinking could be the last chance to force China to face up to the fact that its North Korean dependant is not just embarrassing but dangerous, to force it to discuss the future of the Korean Peninsula, to force it to join the 21st century rather than staying stuck in the 1950s. Unless that happens, next time it could really be war.

    As to the United States, the driver of the train needs either to wake up or to let someone else do the driving.

  5. Brianna |

    “This article is in memory of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), whose bronze bust was removed from the Oval Office less than a month after the ascension of President Obama to the United States throne.”

    Well, that’s not frightening at all.


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