(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)
Today's post is very brief but it contains some of Churchill’s wisest words.
In 1929, in a now almost entirely forgotten incident, a group of Chinese warlords attacked and destroyed British property in China.
Many cabinet members and others urged the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, to overlook the matter. The warlords had done wrong, certainly, but they were just a bother; not a real problem. Let the matter go, Baldwin was told, or better yet, find some way to appease the warlords so they won’t do such things in the future.
Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was not, as we would all know, one of those counseling appeasement. In 1991 his biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, told a London audiencee about a letter Churchill wrote Baldwin at the time of the incident. In it, Churchill set out beliefs he’d held throughout his public life :
[T]here is no evil worse than submitting to wrong and violence for fear of war. Once you take the position of not being able in any circumstance to defend your rights against the aggression of some particular set of people, there is no end to the demands that will be made upon you or to the humiliations that must be accepted.