Winston Churchill: A Life of Potential--November 30, 1874

November 30, 2012

Winston Churchill may have lived the most documented life in history. I say that only because he made sure his every letter, speech, book, article, and even casual remarks were recorded for posterity.

We are his posterity. "Study history," he said to young college students who asked him for advice. He made a lot of the history of the twentieth century. He told one opponent in Parliament that history would be kind to him. "I intend to write it myself," he said with a mischievous twinkle. He very nearly did.

The outpouring of words from Winston Churchill is truly staggering. I'm catching up now on "Frontiers and Wars," which is an abridgment of several of his books about his early years as a soldier of Queen Victoria. He took part in military campaigns along the Afghan frontier. He fought an earlier version of the Taliban. Then, he was a cavalry officer fighting against the Dervishes in the Sudan. He became rather knowledgeable about the Islamic world, more so than most British people of his day.

When President Obama threw the bust of Churchill out of the Oval Office, he might nonetheless have profitably read some of what Winston had to say about dealing with Islam. Our new President bowed low before Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. He abased himself (and us) before this persecutor of Christians and Jews.

Mr. Obama went to Turkey and Egypt in 2009. He placed great stock in the so-called Arab Spring. Even now, Mr. Obama is giving nearly $500 million of our money to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and $1.5 billion to the Egyptian rulers who owe their first allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood.

We are borrowing money from China to give to people who hate us, who want to destroy us. Does this make sense? Winston Churchill never won the Nobel Peace Prize, as President Obama did. He had to console himself with the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Still, when Winston saw the Arab Spring of his day--mass riots in the streets--he did not think they were on the road to democracy.

Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries.

Sudan. Afghanistan. Egypt. Libya. Syria. Lebanon.

The Obama administration has been criticizing Israel for years. Whenever they build another apartment house in Jerusalem, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton or Vice President Biden chimes in. They actually count the Jews in Jerusalem and note that it's "not helpful" to the Mideast Peace Process. Whatever that is.

Churchill had this advice: "Let the Jews have Jerusalem. It is they who made it famous."

Churchill was the first British statesman to recognize the menace of Hitler and Nazism. He knew Hitler was evil because Hitler hated the Jews and blamed them for all of Germany's troubles.

Churchill was in Munich just before Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933. He was at a dinner party in a grand hotel there (Churchill never stayed in any but grand hotels). Hitler's court jester, the Harvard-educated "Putzi" Hanfstaengl tried to arrange a meeting between the two. Churchill told Putzi to tell his master that "Anti-Semitism may be a good starter [in politics], but it's a bad sticker."

Hearing of this, Hitler spitefully refused to come down to meet Britain's former Chancellor of the Exchequer. "He's all washed up in English politics," Hitler says in one dramatization of their almost meeting. A lot of people in England thought so, too.

Watch the delegates at last summer's national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Watch them BOO! as the convention chairman gavels through a platform plank that concedes none-too-gracefully that Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel. Anti-Semitism--a good starter, but a bad sticker.

President Obama's top intelligence officer, James Clapper, thinks the Muslim Brotherhood that is now rising to power throughout the Arab world is a "secular" organization. It would be nice if our intelligence chiefs had some, well, intelligence.

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) dates from 1928, the same era that gave us the Nazi party in Germany. The MB rejected Hitler's Aryan supremacy, not surprisingly. Not all that many Muslims are blond with blue eyes. And they rejected Hitler's pagan ideology.

But they liked and learned from the Fuhrer's use of violence to get power. Hitler always used the threat of street riots and broken heads to get his way in a weak parliamentary democracy like Germany's Weimar Republic. The MB liked that and have copied Hitler's tactics everywhere.

The MB also loved Hitler's judenhass--his Jew hatred. They still do.

In Churchill's Britain of the 1930s, there were many English businessmen who wanted to appease Hitler, and to profit from his regime. In the U.S. then, there were men like Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, father of the president and Sen. Robert Kennedy. Amb. Kennedy cheerfully described himself as an "appeaser" of Hitler.

In Egypt today, the MB blames all the troubles of that plundered land on the Jews. And the Obama administration--led by Hillary Clinton--actually thinks Mohamed Morsi is trying to help when he crafts a cease fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Everyone knows that Hamas is only standing down for a few days or weeks or months until they can launch an even more harmful rocket attack on Israeli villages.

Everyone knows this except, of course, the Obama administration.

Churchill also knew something about Russians. He called Russia "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." One thing we know that Churchill understood about Russia. They respect strength and despise weakness.

When President Obama's voice was picked up on a mic telling Vladimir Putin's puppet Dmitri Medvedev he would be "more flexible" after he was re-elected, he broadcast to the Kremlin's new vozhd (boss) his weakness. Even worse, he broadcast our weakness to the world.

In Moscow during World War II, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin brutally insulted Prime Minister Churchill and the valiant British armed forces. "You wouldn't be so afraid of the Germans if you fought them more," the crude tyrant said. Outraged, Churchill went back to the British Embassy.

He loudly denounced the Soviet tyrant. Warned by a high embassy official the room was bugged and Stalin was doubtless getting transcripts of everything the Prime Minister said, Churchill raised his voice still louder. He dictated a cable to London, to the War Cabinet. He said if this kind of thing was repeated, he would leave Moscow in the morning. Come what may.

In danger of losing British and American war supplies, Stalin's behavior changed overnight. Literally overnight. Confronted with Churchill's courage and steadfastness, Stalin backed down.

Does anyone want to bet how much Vladimir Putin will appreciate Barack Obama's "flexibility"? Does anyone think Putin will now help Obama push Syria's dictator Assad out the door? Or stop helping Iran's mullahs evade economic sanctions. Mr. Obama will be amazed at how his flexibility will be interpreted in Moscow as a lack of resolve.

When one of his young secretaries stood on top of Number 10 Downing Street with him during the Blitz, he asked her if she was afraid. Bombs fell all around them. London was going up in flames, but she said: "No, it is not possible to be afraid around you, sir."

That 1965 London funeral for Winston Churchill was called by the British Government Operation Hope Not. That's an odd name for what comes to every mortal man. It was England's greatest writer, Shakespeare, after all who taught us: "Cowards die a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once."

It's that kind of courage we need now. It's that Churchillian call to be men and women of valour. That's why it's good to remember him on his birthday. And it's good to realize how every potential human life has vast potential for good.