In our official mythology, Winston Churchill, even more than Franklin
Roosevelt, still symbolizes the epic struggle against tyranny in World
War II. But correction of this myth is long overdue.
Before and during the war, Roosevelt fawned on Joseph Stalin, to
whom he delivered most of Central Europe as the spoils of victory.
Far from reciprocating this adulation, Stalin cold-bloodedly took full
advantage of Roosevelt’s gullibility. Roosevelt’s admirers,
somewhat embarrassed at his obsequious appeasement of the Soviet tyrant,
prefer to say delicately that he “misjudged” Stalin.
Churchill, on the other hand, enjoys a more unsullied reputation,
especially among anti-Communists, since he lived to revert to his pre-war
anti-Communism and warned (albeit a little late in the day) against
the “Iron Curtain” that had fallen across Europe.
But in his obsessive hatred of Germany, which long predated the rise
of Adolf Hitler, Churchill forgot the evil of Communism and in fact
rivaled Roosevelt in his eagerness to please Stalin. When Hitler and
Stalin joined to invade Poland in 1939, Churchill, who would become
prime minister in early 1940, directed all his wrath against Hitler;
Britain and France declared war on Germany, but not on the Soviet Union,
even when, the following year, Stalin grabbed the three Baltic states
and attacked Finland. A particular antipathy to Germany, not the principle
of the security of small nations, was clearly Churchill’s ruling
Before the war Stalin had already slaughtered millions, far more
than Hitler would kill during the war itself. Churchill, like Roosevelt,
chose to ignore this; and when Hitler turned on Stalin in June 1941,
Churchill welcomed Stalin as an ally without reservation.
When Germany defeated and conquered France in 1940, driving the British
back across the Channel, Churchill refused to make peace; since Britain
was no match for Germany, this could only mean that he intended to
draw the United States into the war, which he proceeded to do, with
Roosevelt’s secret cooperation. The two men conspired to “force
an incident” (as Churchill put it) in the North Atlantic that
would compel the reluctant U.S. Congress to declare war on Germany;
their plot failed, but, happily for them, the Japanese bombing of Pearl
Harbor achieved the desired result.
Early in the war Churchill approved the Lindemann Plan of terror-bombing
civilians as a matter of policy. He lied to Parliament about this,
insisting the civilian casualties in German cities had been accidental
victims of bombs aimed at military targets; later he would disclaim
any part in the destruction of Dresden: “I thought the Americans
did it.” The full truth was revealed only long after the war.
Throughout the war Churchill praised Stalin in fulsome terms. In 1944
he spoke of “deep-seated changes which have taken place in the
character of the Russian state and government” and “the
new confidence which has grown in our hearts toward Stalin.” This
wasn’t mere public rhetoric. To his wife he wrote: “I have
had very nice talks with the old Bear. I like him the more I see him.
Now they respect us & I am sure they wish to work with us.”
Like Roosevelt, Churchill had a pathetic desire to be liked by Stalin — and
a consequent reluctance to cross him by denying him his wishes. Churchill
even agreed to the massive deportations of civilians and the use of
Germans for slave labor after the war! In all their dealings it was
Stalin, not Churchill, who displayed an iron will.
At the Yalta Conference of 1945, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed to
turn Poland over to Stalin in exchange for a promise that he would
permit free elections, never mind his partnership in Poland’s
rape in the first place. As for guarantees, the word of their drinking
buddy “Uncle Joe” was good enough for them.
After the war Churchill admitted that “we lie in the grip of
even worse perils than those we have surmounted.” Only in hindsight
did he perceive what the scorned “isolationists” had foreseen
from the first.
Hero of the twentieth century? The historian Ralph Raico offers a
sterner judgment: “Winston Churchill was a man of blood and a
politico without principle, whose apotheosis serves to corrupt every
standard of honesty and morality in politics and history.”
Copyright © 2011 by the Fitzgerald
Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally
by Griffin Internet Syndicate on February 8, 2000.
Historian Professor Ralph Raico's latest book is Great
War and Great Leaders (Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2010)
Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio
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