American Elephants


Winston Churchill Had Advice On How to Deal With Vladimir Putin by The Elephant's Child
June 6, 2015, 5:52 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, National Security, Russia | Tags: , ,

From The Wall Street Journal’s “Notable and Quotable” column. The quotation comes from “What Would Churchill Do” by Mark W. Davis, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, Summer issue 2015 Wilson Quarterly.

During the Cold War, Churchill preached a stoic optimism equal to the long task of countering and containing Moscow’s designs. He said of the Russian people that the “machinery of propaganda may pack their minds with falsehood and deny them truth for many generations of time. But the soul of man thus held in trance, or frozen in a long night, can be awakened by a spark coming from God knows where, and in a moment the whole structure of lies and oppression is on trial for its life.”

The power of social media is the true “soft underbelly” of this regime. Putin himself revealed his fear of Facebook and Twitter when he signed new laws requiring social networks to store data on Russian users in Russia, subjecting them to censorship. The public murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemstov has opened the minds of young Russia, giving the West an opportunity to make the most of cracks and crevices in Putin’s firewalls. For the West, the best strategy is a policy of patience, firmness, and determination to undermine the Putin regime and frustrate its forays—for decades, if need be—until the day when the whole structure of its lies and oppression are put on trial by young Russians.

And we should remember Winston Churchill’s final bit of advice as he prepared to leave office: “Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair.”

ADDENDUM: Also in the Wall Street Journal, Holman Jenkins suggests that Russia’s president clearly seems to be lifting strategies from the Hitler playbook, likely deliberately so. Perhaps Obama is not alone in searching for a “legacy.”


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