Monday, February 28, 2005

For G-d and Churchill

Winston, not Ward.

Jacob Heilbrunn takes issue with neo-conservatives embrace of Britain's Winston Churchill. He focuses on his bad record of imperialism and democratization:
What, after all, was Churchill's imperial legacy? While he was laudably eager to establish a Jewish state, his forays into Arab nation-building after World War I, including the creation of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, plague the region down to the present. Far from helping avert the collapse of the empire, Britain's machinations under Churchill accelerated it. At the same time, it's not clear how ''liberal'' Churchill's imperialism actually was. He was a rather equivocal democratizer, declaring in 1942 that he had not become ''the King's first minister in order to liquidate the British Empire.'' He bitterly fought with Roosevelt over recognizing Indian independence, and he despised Gandhi.
Unfortunately, the article misses some points about Churchill that neo-conservatives would loath: the fact that he was a Realpolitiker who, for good and bad, dragged his feet when it came to confronting the German army directly, who looked for peripheral theaters of combat, and who made alliances to solve Britain's shortcomings.

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