Moral Clarity of the Past [With Comment by John]

Featured image Scott reminded us this morning of Winston Churchill’s notice of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, suggesting that we ought to take seriously the statements of murderous purpose whether they come from a seemingly implausible Austrian-born corporal, or a soon-to-be nuclear-armed Iranian ayatollah. Of course, Mein Kampf was mostly ignored in the 1930s or dismissed as the unimportant or irrelevant thoughts that Hitler would discard once he assumed the “responsibilities” of high office. As »

A WSC Thought for the Day

Featured image “Nearly always Governments which seek peace flag in their war efforts, and Governments which make the most vigorous war preparations take little interest in peace. The two opposite moods consort with difficulty in the human mind yet it is only by the double and, as it might seem, contradictory exertion that a good result can usually be procured.” —Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times, Vol. IV, chapter 3. »

Churchill on “A Peculiar Type of Brainy People”

Featured image As with so many other things, Churchill was on to the problem of the administrative state and today’s presumptuous liberal cosmopolitanism from early on.  A 1933 speech offers a perfect description of our Beltway mentality today: The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy »

The Best #TBT Ever

Featured image Those of you who inhabit Facebook may be acquainted with the practice of “Throwback Thursday,” where typically you post old photos of yourself or something. Well, I have the ultimate Throwback Thursday item for today. I spent most of today going through a treasure trove of Harry Jaffa papers. Found this: a 1952 mash note to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Jaffa had quoted as the frontispiece to his great first »

The Lusitania at 100

Featured image Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, one of the markers on the way to U.S. entry into World War I. George Will wrote about it the other day in his column, coming close but not quite embracing some of the old rumors and conspiracy charges that the British wanted the Lusitania sunk in hopes of getting the U.S. off the sidelines: It is commonly but »

Gallipoli, 100 Years On

Featured image Today marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign—ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand, since they provided the bulk of the troops for this ill-fated venture that became known as “Churchill’s Folly.”  Anyone who has seen the early Mel Gibson film, Gallipoli, will know that the operation ended up with the same kind of trench warfare and appalling slaughter that characterized the Western Front.  The British »

CRB: The achievement of Martin Gilbert

Featured image Our friends at the Claremont Review of Books have just published their Winter number and, as usual, let me pick three reviews to preview for our readers. You can subscribe here for $19.95 and have immediate online access thrown in for free. Tributes to Harry V. Jaffa lead off the new issue. Jaffa was the guiding spirit of the CRB; the CRB calls on a handful of his former students »

Sir Martin Gilbert, RIP

Featured image Sad news from London this morning of the passing of Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill, and the author of something like 40 other books—many of them big, big books, some of them about Jewish history and the Holocaust. He began his career as a research assistant to Randolph Churchill, and after Randolph died succeeded him as the official biographer, going on to write six of the »

When Hitler didn’t meet Churchill

Featured image Our observation of the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill yesterday put me in mind of Winston Churchill’s failed meeting with Adolf Hitler. It’s a story I’ve mentioned here before and ask your indulgence in mentioning again as the occasion warrants. Among the many qualities that made Churchill a man out of joint with his times was this one: he frequently wrote and spoke favorably of the Jews »

Churchill: Not the Last Lion

Featured image As we mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Churchill today, I want to pick a minor quibble that I think is not so minor after you think it through a bit. Several fine commentators, such as Victor Davis Hanson, have embraced the theme of Churchill as “the Last Lion,” borrowing from the title of William Manchester’s compulsively readable three-volume biography of Churchill. To be sure, Churchill was, like »

Leo Strauss on the Death of Churchill

Featured image Always worth taking in Leo Strauss’s spontaneous remarks in class in Chicago in January 1965, upon learning the news of Churchill’s death: The death of Churchill is a healthy reminder to academic students of political science of their limitations, the limitations of their craft. The tyrant stood at the pinnacle of his power. The contrast between the indomitable and magnanimous statesman and the insane tyrant—this spectacle in its clear simplicity »

Churchill’s Death, 50 Years On

Featured image This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of Winston Churchill. The most moving account of the scene comes from the Hungarian-born historian John Lukacs, who traveled from the U.S. to London to attend. It was originally published in The American Spectator years ago (but seemingly unavailable online) and then subsequently included in his fine book, Churchill: Visionary, Statesman, Historian. The Los Angeles Times, of all publications, noted this »

SOTU: You’re excused

Featured image Bill Kristol writes in his weekly email message to readers: Many of you have asked whether, as conscientious citizens, you have to watch President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday. The answer is no. In fact, you have my complete and unambiguous permission to skip it. You might want to tune in after the speech for Joni Ernst’s GOP response–if she does well maybe we’ll include her in the »

The Dumbest Churchill Story Ever

Featured image There are a lot of myths and apocryphal stories about Churchill that can never quite be put down (such as the one that he was so drunk on one 1940 radio speech that he hired an actor to deliver it for him). The Churchill Center—you should join!—has a long list of the myths, along with links with the definitive information. My email box is exploding right now with readers wondering »

Happy Birthday, Sir Winston

Featured image It’s Winston Churchill’s 140th birthday today. Needless to say, I doubt there will be an observance in the White House. I wonder what Sir Winston would have made of Obama? Not much. I was casting about for a passage from the great man that might apply to Obama, and came up with this fragment from an obscure essay dismissing H.G. Wells for his various unfounded resentments against Britain. It’s not »

ISIS: What Would Churchill Do?

Featured image Power Line has come into possession of a transcript of a recent telephone conversation between President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who, as everyone knows, has been way out in front of Obama in judging the seriousness of the problem posed by the rise of ISIS. Obama: Hey Dave, it’s Barry. How you likin’ those groovy tunes on that iPod I gave you at the G-8? Cameron: Barry! »

CRB: On the slaughter bench of history

Featured image We conclude our preview of the Summer issue of the Claremont Review of Books today—the hundredth anniversary of the first battle of the Marne—with Algis Valiunas’s First World War essay, “On the Slaughter Bench of History.” A fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Valiunas draws on several of the numerous books released to commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of the Great War to explore the historical, cultural »