The Weekly Winston: Nuclear Deterrence Edition, with Iran Postscript

Featured image As we contemplate the specter of a reckless North Korea and a fanatical and suicidal Iran both bent on acquiring and using nuclear weapons, the old schemes of deterrence lose their valence.  While Churchill thought the deterrence of mutual assured destruction between the superpowers would work (peace would be “the sturdy child of terror”), he was less optimistic about proliferation, as seen in this comment from 1946: In these present »

The Weekly Winston: Far East Edition

Featured image Churchill, writing in 1951 about the idea of invading China to win the Korean War: That would be the greatest folly.  It would be like flies invading fly-paper. When asked in the House of Commons one day where North Korea was procuring its arms, Churchill answered: Although there are movements ever being made in aerial locomotion, it would be premature to suppose that they came from the moon. And about »

The Weekly Winston: Climate Change and Technology Edition

Featured image Since we’re on the subject of climate change here in recent days, herewith Churchill’s musings about climate and technology from his essay “Fifty Years Hence,” published in the late 1920s and available now in Thoughts and Adventures.  Part of this passage is a tolerably good anticipation of “geoengineering,” or “solar radiation management.” The discovery and control of such sources of power [such as nuclear] would cause changes in human affairs »

The Weekly Winston: Global Finance Edition

Featured image With the Cyprus bailout and the continuing fragility of the Eurozone system tested on an almost daily basis, time to take in some of Sir Winston’s greatest hits about finance.  This first, from 1926, could be the opening of a daily memo to the European Central Bank (if not our own Federal Reserve): In finance, everything that is agreeable is unsound and everything that is sound is disagreeable. About the »

The Weekly Winston: Democracy and Its Discontents

Featured image While we carry on with the favorite pastime of pundits—handwringing about “gridlock” in Washington—let’s recur to Churchill’s comments on the defects of democracy in his 1931 essay “Fifty Years Hence,” which fit the Age of Obama quite well: Democracy as a guide or motive to progress has long been known to be incompetent.  None of the legislative assemblies of the great modern states represents in universal suffrage even a fraction »

The Weekly Winston: What good’s a Constitution?

Featured image A year or two ago Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn sent me a packet of Churchill materials. I’m just getting around to reading them. One of the pieces is Churchill’s brilliant August 22, 1936 Collier’s essay, “What good’s a Constitution?” Looking around online, I find related commentary by Justin Lyons, “Winston Churchill’s constitutionalism: A critique of socialism in America.” The photocopy of the essay sent to me by Larry highlights »

The Weekly Winston: Obama Boneless Wonder Edition

Featured image In honor of the recent Cabinet confirmations of John Kerry, Jack Lew, and Chuck Hagel, it becomes apparent that Churchill’s famous remark about Ramsey MacDonald as “the boneless wonder” is for once inadequate to the moment: Obama has installed an entire boneless chicken farm.  To do full justice to the complete mediocrity that is Obama’s second term, we’ll need to roll out the entire repertoire of Churchill’s dismissals of MacDonald, »

The Weekly Winston: Immigration Reform Edition

Featured image While we follow the spectacle of prospective immigration reform and whether Congress employs various “terminological inexactitudes” (Churchill’s term for “lie”) to disguise what would be in essence a blanket amnesty, herewith Churchill’s remark from 1906 that bears on this point: In dealing with nationalities, nothing is more fatal than a dodge.  Wrongs will be forgiven, sufferings and losses will be forgiven or forgotten, battles will be remembered only as they »

The Weekly Winston: Chuck Hagel as Thomas Inskip

Featured image The woeful Hagel nomination brings back memories of the 1936 appointment of the “entirely unsuited” (Richard Langworth’s phrase) Sir Thomas Inskip to be the Minister for the Coordination of Defense in the British government—a post that everyone thought Churchill should fill.  William Manchester pointed out that “a  search of The Times files reveals that his only notable public effort had been a successful campaign to suppress revisions of the Anglican »

The Weekly Winston: Painting as a Pastime Edition

Featured image We know that George W. Bush is a Churchill fan who, unlike the current occupant of the White House, both welcomed and was honored by the British offer to have the Churchill bust in the Oval Office.  We now know from the hacks of Bush’s email that he emulates Churchill in other respect—as a painter.  The Free Beacon has the details, but if you think the painting nearby of someone »

The Weekly Winston: Iran and “Unregulated Unthinkability”

Featured image Chuck Hagel’s prevarications in his Senate testimony this week about the prevarications of the Obama Administration’s Iran policy brought to mind one of Churchill’s characterizations of British government policy about disarmament in the early 1930s—what at other times he described more simply as “mush, slush, and gush.”  But this 1934 comment comes close to capturing the essence of Obama’s own brand of mush, slush, and gush about Iran: It is »

The Weekly Winston: Women in Combat Edition

Featured image I doubt Sir Winston would be entirely keen on the proposal to open up combat roles to women in our armed forces.  But he would not be surprised it has come to this, as this excerpt from a Strand magazine article in 1938 hints: We take the immunity of women from violence so much for granted that we do not perceive what inroads are being made upon it.  These inroads »

Obama vs. MLK

Featured image Brother Mathis has done it again.  Not content with provoking me to discourse on the nanny state last week, on Monday Joel produced a column about Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama.  Our mutual pal Ben Boychuk suggested on Facebook that our pieces represented a good Right-Left counterpoint about MLK, as Joel’s account mostly follows the conventional liberal narrative, though with caveats that it’s “complicated.”  (Isn’t everything “complicated” for liberals?) »

The Weekly Winston: Fearful Symmetry Edition

Featured image Churchill’s description of Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, written in his World War II memoirs in 1948, includes a comparison with contemporary significance: All was there—the programme of German resurrection, the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combatting Marxism; the concept of the National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit of the world.  Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant »

The Weekly Winston: Omnibus Edition

Featured image I’ve been thinking about bureaucracy a bit more than usual the last few days, and hence this remark of Churchill’s seems useful in our fiscally challenging times: There is no surer method of economizing and saving money than in the reduction of the number of officials. I bid a 50 percent cut in non-military government agencies.  The only downside here is that most federal agencies would become more productive if »

The Weekly Winston: Fiscal Abyss Edition

Featured image Now that we’re past the “fiscal cliff” (note I didn’t say “safely” past), we really ought to try to promote a term that is more accurate to our real predicament, which is much worse.  How about “fiscal abyss”?  This is the term of art we ought to use as we approach the political sequel to the fiscal cliff, which will come with the expiration of the debt ceiling sometime in »

The Weekly Winston: Fiscal Cliff Edition

Featured image Everyone supposes that supply-side economics was a purely American phenomenon, with its antecedents going back to Calvin Coolidge and his tax-cutting Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and ending up with the Laffer Curve.  And of course Ronald Reagan liked to quote John F. Kennedy on the wisdom of income tax rate cuts, much to the consternation of good liberals today. But in fact Churchill was part of the early supply-side revolution, »