(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
From a brief excerpt from Martin Gilbert’s Churchill and America (Free Press. 2005)we can learn something that ought to give us who are American’s reason to question our Congress and ourselves:
In early April 1942 [Army Chief of Staff]General [George C.] Marshall and [Roosevelt’s most trusted Presidential Aide] Harry Hopkins traveled to Britain to present to Churchill the plan, favored by Roosevelt, for an Angle-American amphibious landing in Europe as soon as practicable.You can see in these few sentence the heart of the difference between the British and American plans for attacking the European continent. Britain wanted to “nip at the edges,” as Americans sometimes put it. That's why Churchill is talking about “successively or simultaneously” landing at many places in Europe. Such a plan went directly counter to the American plan, strongly favored by General Marshall, of a single, powerful “knife-strike” into the heart of Germany.
Churchill and his Chiefs of Staff spent many hours with the two Americans discussing the logistics and timing. In a speech to a Secret Session of the House of Commons on April 23, Churchill told the House that the war would not be ended by defeating Japan, but “only through the defeat in Europe of the German armies or a German internal collapse, which could not be counted on.
“We have, therefore, to prepare for the liberation of the captive countries of western and southern Europe by the landing at suitable points, successively or simultaneously, of British and American armies strong enough to enable the conquered populations to revolt.”(pgs. 257-258)
For nearly two years the British and Americans argued intensely over the best strategy. But it’s not a question about strategy I want to ask you.
It’s about the Commons meeting in secret. That happened many times during the war. And what Churchill would report and what the Members would ask usually had substance; and if known by the Germans would have been helpful to them.
But as far as I know the Commons was on the whole worthy of its trust of secrecy.
And now my question which most of you have guessed: We’re in a time of war: could our Congress meet in secret to hear a report, the findings of which would be kept from a group every bet as odious as the Nazis?
I don’t think so and that tells us something about a great weakness we have in fighting the Terror War.
Your turn. What do you think?