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.”

Winston Churchill on Negotiating With Aliens by The Elephant's Child

Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward posts a “Weekly Winston” quote from Winston Churchill who with long years of writing is exceptionally quotable:

Democratic governments drift along the line of least resistance, taking short views, paying their way with sops and doles, and smoothing their path with pleasant-sounding platitudes.  Never was there less continuity or design in their affairs, and yet towards them are coming swiftly changes which will revolutionize for good or ill not only the whole economic structure of the world but the social habits and moral outlook of every family.

The Endless Repetition of History. by The Elephant's Child

One of the first acts of Barack Obama when he moved into the White House, was to order the bust of Winston Churchill, on loan from the British Government, packed up and sent back to England.

Winston Churchill: Speech to the House of Commons, May 2, 1935.

It is possible that the dangers into which we are steadily advancing would never have arisen…[but] when the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which might have effected a cure.

Churchill provided his own answer:

There is nothing new to the story.  It is as old as [Rome].  It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind.  Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong — these are features which constitute the endless repetition of history.


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