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Post Churchill as Moral Leader
Created by John Eipper on 01/25/15 4:22 AM

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Churchill as Moral Leader (Robert Whealey, USA, 01/25/15 4:22 am)

I will also give Winston Churchill my endorsement. When lecturing about World War II, I would conclude that "Winston Churchill was the greatest leader during the Second World War. Better than FDR."

David Duggan's claim that Churchill was "the greatest Brit since 1066" is a bit far out. My mentor A. J. P. Taylor was a great debunker of all diplomats and politicians as "frequent cheaters." Cynics would say a diplomat is paid to lie for his country. Politicians' reputations go up and down as new events unfold.

Truman got only 25% favorable rating in the polls when he fired MacArthur in April 1951. He gradually recovered his reputation as Johnson and Nixon floundered in Vietnam. Napoleon was considered a war criminal in 1815, but his reputation recovered in the Second Empire 1851-1870. He then faded again during the Hitler era. Truman's reputation is also beginning to fade, when more and more Jewish historians uncovered the imperialist aggression of Israel in 7 or 8 wars beginning in 1948 and peaking (so) far in 2014 with the 2014 Gaza war.

I have already said that MLK was America's greatest moral leader in the 20th century.

JE comments: This has turned out to be MLK and Churchill week. We have put MLK under the microscope, so might Sir Winston be due for a reappraisal? Consider Gallipoli, as well as his strident opposition to Indian self-rule. How about this WC screamer: "It is alarming and also nauseating, to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of the type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor" (quoted in David Reynolds, The Long Shadow, 2014, p. 115).

Churchill--racist, elitist, imperialist? Note the contempt with which he portrays the notion of civil disobedience. He also drank more in a day than most of us could in a year.

WAIS is all about presenting dissenting interpretations, even when they are unpopular.

A request for Robert Whealey:  could you tell us more about studying under the great revisionist/gadfly historian, A. J. P. Taylor?

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  • Churchill as Moral Leader (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/25/15 10:16 AM)
    In response to the various eulogies in favor of Churchill, let me repeat the following:

    On 12 May 1919, when Churchill was Secretary of the Colonies, he wrote: "I cannot understand this prudish sentiment about the use of gas. I am strongly in favor of the use of poisonous gas against 'uncivilized tribes.'"

    He approved of using gas to suppress the struggle for freedom and independence by the Iraqis/Kurds in 1920.

    Another consideration: When Churchill entered WWII, the UK had a great empire dominating half the world.  When he

    "won" the war, the UK was practically a second-class power, far behind the US and the USSR.

    Finally, he held a high opinion at first of Mussolini, but did his best to have him killed so he could not speak about their past deals.

    JE comments: How can I say this diplomatically? The more I read about Lincoln, the more I like him.  I have the opposite view of Churchill.  I admire him more in the abstract.  But let me be clear:  the world will forever be in Churchill's debt for standing up to Hitler when no one else would.

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