Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Churchill Series - July 16, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

It's November 14, 1940.

London's enduring the Blitz. In the North Atlantic, the British and Canadian navies are fighting a desperate battle to keep open Britain’s vital supply line from North America. It will be more than a year before the U. S. enters the war.

Churchill hears there's talk in government circles that perhaps it would be in Britain’s interests to draw closer to French Vichy. He decides to send his cabinet colleagues a note. It follows in full:

“Although revenge has no part in politics, and we should always be looking forward rather than looking back, it would be a mistake to suppose that a solution of our difficulties with Vichy will be reached by a policy of mere conciliation and forgiveness.

The Vichy Government is under heavy pressure from Germany, and there is nothing that they would like better that to feel a nice, soft, cozy, forgiving England on their other side.

This would enable them to win minor favours from Germany at our expense, and hang on as long as possible to see how the war goes.

We, on the contrary, should not hesitate, when our interests require it, to confront them with difficult and rough situations, and make then feel that we have teeth as well as Hitler.” (emphasis in original)
When was the last time you read an important government policy document that was so brief, to the point and wise?
Winston S. Churchill, Their Finest Hour. (pgs. 525-526)


V-III said...

John, this is a most enjoyable series. As for Winton's flying experiences (July 15 post), he generally made a minor nuisance of himself while in the co-pilot's seat. He admonished pilots to not crash into the Rock of Gibraltar and sundry landmarks, including the Washington Monument: "It would be particularly unfortunate if we brought our story to an end by hitting this of all other objects in the world."
Sitting on the tarmac at Teheran, Winston told the pilot the altimeter must be broken, as it read several thousand feet; the pilor told Winston the altimeter was fine, the airport was several thousand feet above sea level.
He always brought along his valet and a vertible wine cellar. On one long flight the party could not decide whether it was time for a light meal or high tea (their watches were several hours off). Churchill settled the matter by declaring it was "time for high-whisky".
Keep up the good posts, or, as Churchill would say, KBO.

Anonymous said...

I too enjoy reading the Churchill posts. I read his multi-volume series on WWII as an undergraduate in college back in the early seventies (not because they were assigned but because they were interesting). It has been awhile since I have read them - I am thinking that that they will be reading choice once the warmth of summer gives way to the cold crisp evenings of the autumn.
One other note, when Churchill died, my father (who never believed that one should miss a day of school) kept me home so that I could watch his funeral on television. He felt that it was a historic occasion that I would always remember.