The Indispensable Man

A New Year’s Greeting from our President

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.  V-E day will be May 8th and V-J day will be September 2nd. (August 15th is the official V-J day for the United Kingdom) Let us resolve that the sacrifices of the members of the Allied Forces during the multi-year, globe-encompassing struggle that was World War II shall never be forgotten.  Let us remember the incredible leadership that Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill provided during his whole life but particularly to Great Britain and the empire as prime minister from 1940 through 1945.  From the time he resumed his position as First Lord of the Admiralty to when he surrendered the seals of office, Winston Churchill displayed the qualities of leadership seldom seen in the pages of history.  The mission of the society is to preserve the legacy of Sir Winston by programs designed to educate, enlighten, entertain and inspire all people, both young and old, to recognize great leadership and to demand it for themselves, their country and their posterity.

Winston Churchill — The Indispensable Man

Among Winston Churchill’s many accomplishments, the most important was his successful defiance of Hitler in 1940. Two recent publications effectively claim that Churchill alone had the qualities that made that success possible. These publications are excerpted below.

Winston Churchill Man of the Century

At the end of the year 1999, Time Magazine ventured to designate the most important person of the 20th century. It declared that Albert Einstein was the “Man of the Century”. Charles Krauthammer responded in his December 31, 1999 column in the Washington Post, reprinted in his 2013 book, Things That Matter (the following is an abridgement of the full article):

Albert Einstein is an interesting and solid choice. Unfortunately, it is wrong. The only possible answer is Winston Churchill.

Why? Because only Churchill carries that absolutely required criterion: indispensability. Without Churchill the world today would be unrecognizable—dark, impoverished, tortured.

Without Einstein? Einstein was certainly the best mind of the century. Einstein also had a deeply humane and philosophical soul. I would nominate him as most admirable man of the century. But most important? If Einstein hadn’t lived, the ideas he produced might have been delayed. But they would certainly have arisen without him.

Take away Churchill in 1940, on the other hand, and Britain would have settled with Hitler–or worse. Nazism would have prevailed. Hitler would have achieved what no other tyrant, not even Napoleon, had ever achieved: mastery of Europe. Civilization would have descended into a darkness the likes of which it had never known.

The great movements that underlie history—the development of science, industry, culture, social and political structures—are undeniably powerful, almost determinant. Yet every once in a while, a single person arises without whom everything would be different. Such a man was Churchill.

After having single-handedly saved Western civilization from Nazi barbarism—Churchill was, of course, not sufficient in bringing victory, but he was uniquely necessary—he then immediately rose to warn prophetically against its sister barbarism, Soviet communism.

The uniqueness of the 20th century lies not in its science but in its politics. The 20th centruy was no more scientifically gifted than the 19th.

No, the originality of the 20th surely lay in its politics. It invented the police state and the command economy, mass mobilization and mass propaganda, mechanized murder and routinized terror—a breathtaking catalog of political creativity.

Totalitarianism turned out to be a cul-de-sac. It came and went. It has a beginning and an end, 1917 and 1991, a run of 75 years neatly nestled into this century. That is our story.

And who is the hero of that story? Who slew the dragon? Yes, it was the ordinary man, the taxpayer, the grunt who fought and won the wars. Yes, it was America and its allies. Yes, it was the great leaders: FDR, de Gaulle, Adenauer, Truman, John Paul II, Thatcher, Reagan. But above all, victory required one man without whom the fight would have been lost at the beginning. It required Winston Churchill,

Winston Churchill He Stands Alone

The following is an abridgement of an essay by Boris Johnson, current mayor of London, England, that was published in the Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2014, adapted from his book, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, published November 2014.

When I was growing up, there was no doubt about it: Winston Churchill was the greatest statesman Britain had ever produced,

My brother and I pored over Sir Martin Gilbert’s biographical “Life in Pictures” enough to memorize the captions. I knew that Churchill had led my country to victory against one of history’s most disgusting tyrannies. I knew that he had a mastery of the art of speechmaking, and I knew, even then, that this art was dying out. I knew that he was funny, irreverent and (even by the standards of his time) politically incorrect.

I knew that he had been amazingly brave as a young man, that he had killed men with his own hand and that he had been fired at on four continents. I gathered that there was something holy and magical about him because my grandparents kept the front page of the Daily Express from the day he died in 1965, at the age of 90.

These days, we dimly believe that World War II was won with Soviet blood and U.S. money; and though that is in some ways true, it is also true that, without Churchill, Hitler would almost certainly have won, and Nazi gains in Europe might well have been irreversible.

We need to remember the ways in which this British prime minister helped to make the world in which we still live. Across the globe — from Europe to Russia to Africa to the Middle East — we see traces of his shaping mind.

He believed that the future of the world lay in America’s hands, and he was right. In our own time, it has fallen to the Americans to try to hold the ring in Palestine, to reason with the Israelis, to try to cope with what Churchill called “the ungrateful volcano” of Iraq. As a British imperialist, trying to salvage an empire destined to fade, he was inevitably a failure. As an idealist, summoning humanity’s grander values and fending off its worst demons, he was lastingly a success.

Churchill is the resounding rebuttal to all Marxist historians who think history is the story of vast and impersonal economic forces. Time and again in his seven decades of public life, we can see the impact of his personality on the world and on events – far more of them than are now widely remembered.

He was crucial to the beginning of the welfare state in the early 1900s. He helped give British workers job centers and tea breaks and unemployment insurance. He was the dominant force behind the invention of the Royal Air Force and the tank, and he was absolutely critical to the conduct of World War I. He was indispensable to the foundation of Israel (among other countries), not to mention the campaign for a united Europe.

At several moments, he was the beaver who dammed the flow of events; and never did he affect the course of history more profoundly than in 1940. Churchill spoke to the depths of people’s souls when Britain was alone, when the country was fighting for survival, and he reached them and comforted them in a way no other speaker could have done. His language—stirring and old­fashioned—met the moment.

Churchill did possess a titanic ego, but one tempered by humor, irony, deep humanity and sympathy for other people, and a commitment to public service and a belief in the democratic right of the people to kick him out—as they did in 1945.

Many historians and historiographers have taken the Tolstoyan line, that the story of humanity isn’t the story of great people and shining deeds. It has been fashionable to say that those so-called great men and women are just epiphenomena, meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history. The real story, on this view, is about deep economic forces, technological advances, changes in the price of sorghum, the overwhelming weight of an infinite number of mundane human actions.

The story of Winston Churchill is a pretty withering retort to all that malarkey. He, and he alone, made the difference. There has been no one remotely like him before or since.