Better late than never, tomorrow’s New York Times Book Review carries the letter to the editor by our friend Steve Hayward:
Jacob Heilbrunn’s essay “Winston Churchill, Neocon?” (Feb. 27) casts a jaundiced eye on whether Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush deserve to be regarded as Churchill’s heirs, and whether Churchill’s imperialism, which Heilbrunn once again badly caricatures, makes him worthy of admiration in the first place. Since Heilbrunn rightly implicates me in the pro-Churchill chorus, perhaps I might be allowed a few words to respond.
The case for Reagan’s continuity with Churchill is straightforward. Reagan’s affinity with Churchill went beyond borrowing a memorable quotation. Churchill said in his famous “Iron Curtain” speech that World War II could have been prevented “without the firing of a single shot.” Reagan, heeding Churchill’s vivid lesson of “peace through strength” (for which liberals ridiculed him relentlessly), prevented World War III “without firing a single shot,” as Margaret Thatcher observed. (Indeed, Reagan’s partnership with Thatcher in the 1980’s could be seen as the very fulfillment of the British- American unity that Churchill had envisioned in the “Iron Curtain” speech and elsewhere.) And this is just the most obvious of the deep parallels between Churchill and Reagan.
As to whether Bush has some claim to the same tradition, merely consult the recent thoughts of Churchill’s official biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, writing in The Observer: “Although it can easily be argued that George W. Bush and Tony Blair face a far lesser challenge than Roosevelt and Churchill did