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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review: 'Churchill at War 1940-45', 2009, by Lord Moran.

A good book, should be part of your Churchill library.

by StFerdIII





Lord Moran was Churchill's doctor during World War II. He probably saved Churchill's life on a few occasions. His diary was published after the war, and was recently re-edited and re-released. It is not one of my favorite Churchilliana pieces. Contrary to what critics maintain I don't find it particularly well-written, eloquent or well organized. In fact its disjointed nature – it is almost a direct translation and rework from a diary of scrap paper – makes it a difficult read. However, there are some interesting insights into Churchill which do warrant mention.

Moran's book does contain quite a few interesting insights. The following are examples.

Churchill's Personality:

“Winston is so taken up with his own ideas that he is not interested in what other people think....and must often be lonely, cut off from people.” [p. 124]

Note: Entirely true. Stubborn, passionate, emotional and rhetorical. A difficult debating partner indeed.

“But when he came to select men he was somehow less successful – the incipient genius rescued from obscurity was apt to prove a disappointment.” [p. 129]

Note: A valid and intelligent observation. Winston was a bad buyer. But a great seller.

“What his critics are apt to forget is that you can't measure inspiration.....the strength of will that has bent all manner of men to his purpose; the extraordinary tenacity....the terrific force of personality that can brush aside all doubts and hesitations, and sweep away inertia...” [p. 132]

Note: Eloquent and precisely stated.

“Without that feeling for words he might have made little enough of life. For in judgement, in skill in administration, in knowledge of human nature, he does not at all excel.”[p. 149]

Note: Would disagree about Churchill's administration skills which were first class. No one in British history has moved the machinery of government with more alacrity and profit than Churchill. The rest is right enough.

At war:

America comes into the war post-Pearl Harbor: “And now suddenly the war is as good as won and England is safe; to be Prime Minister in a great war; to be able to direct the Cabinet, the Army.....England herself, is beyond even his dreams. He loves every minute of it.” [p.9]

Note: He knew the job and what it would take to win the war. Churchill's emotionalism and energy to do what was needed were chief amongst his strengths.

“Mr. Churchill was as sure that only by the premature invasion of France could the war be lost. To postpone that evil day, all his arts, all his eloquence, all his great experience were spent.” [p. 39]

Note: Churchill's greatest 'victory' post 1940 was to delay the largest amphibious invasion in history until a preponderance of men, logistics, supply, training and intelligence would ensure success.

“He himself has told us that in September, 1942, his position was more vulnerable than at any other period in the war. After El Alamein, he was never again in danger of losing his job...” [p. 93]

Note: If Churchill had lost this battle, he would most likely have lost a vote of confidence in the Commons and forced to resign.

“It seems that no one could stand up to him, either in the Cabinet or in the House of Commons. Once he had made up his mind nobody could make him change it.” [p. 221]

Note: Post-Alamein, his political position was never in danger.

Mistakes made:

“The PM believe that it is difficult to exaggerate the benefits to the Allies if Turkey comes into the war: he knows that this alone can delay a second front in France.” [p.179]

Note: I have no idea why Churchill was so fixated on Turkey. A hang over from World War One perhaps. Wrongheaded.

“Was the war in Italy a fiasco, as General Fuller thought, or was it a missed opportunity, a second Gallipoli?” [p. 213]

Note: The war in Italy was unnecessary once the southern parts of Italy were secured including Sicily which guaranteed the Allied control of the Mediterranean sea lanes. More profitable uses of the mass of men and material could have been used elsewhere.

Morgenthau's insidious plan to de-industrialize Germany and turn it into an agricultural country. “Later I bluntly saddled the Prof. [Lord Cherwell, Churchill's scientific 'adviser'], with the responsibility for this particular decision [Winston signing this rather insane declaration]. I asked him how he had managed to make the PM sign the plan.....'I explained to Winston, he said, that the plan would save Britain from bankruptcy by eliminating a dangerous competitor.'” [p.218]

Note: Pastoralizing Germany was not only immoral, but incomprehensible in the face of the obvious future Communist threat.

“...he did confide to me, not, however, without many qualifications, that he had been wrong about India.” [p. 223]

Note: Indian independence was inevitable. Churchill was right on two issues; the first being the bloody civil war between Muslims and Hindus which killed some 10 million; and the second being the hasty exit which disregarded, political, social and economic reality and induced chaos.

“[the United Nations].....is the only hope of the world.” [p. 227]

Note: I call the UN, Churchill's folly, and his greatest mistake ever in his career. There is no argument against this assertion. The UN was a fantasy, and it does much to discredit Winston's 'realism' in assessing the value of international organisations in an anarchic and self-interested world. A real blind spot.

Russia:

Stalin admitting to Churchill of the mass murders of Soviet agricultural land owners and workers:

“Worse. Much worse. It went on for years. Most of them liquidated by the peasants who hated them [note; this is of course a lie it was the Red Army]. Ten millions of them [note; closer to 15 million]. But we had to do it to mechanize our agriculture. In the end, production from the land was doubled [note; another lie, Soviet production collapsed causing famines, food was imported from the West]. What in one generation ? Stalin demanded...” [p. 76]

Note: Churchill was certainly aware of Soviet barbarism. It is unlikely that he viewed the Soviet system as anything other than an expression of evil. The contrast with Roosevelt, who trusted the Russians, is astounding.

August 21, 1944: “He dreams of the Red Army spreading like a cancer from one country to another. It has become an obsession, and he seems to think of little else.” [p. 211]

Note: He had the same fears in 1919 and 1920 during the height of the Soviet civil war.

“Winston told me that he had found he could talk to Stalin as one human being to another. Stalin, he was sure, would be sensible.” [p. 233]

Note: Winston invented the idea of summits, where 'great men' would parlay and solve their differences. His inadequate appraisal of Stalin's psychotic personality deluded him into thinking that he could make deals with the dictator. Though in his favor, such a deal did save Greece from Communist occupation – but only after the British put boots on the ground during 1944 and 45.

These points illustrate that Moran is a keen observer and faithful recorder. He recorded what he saw and did not invent what he wanted to see or hear. Some of his observations are controversial. Almost all are valid and historically accurate, affirmed by other observers and historians.

The main value as I see it from Moran's work, is his illustrations of personalities, their interactions and his musings about people and who and what they really are. It is a doctor's diary after all and one would expect a certain amount of psychological investigation into men living during one of history's most important periods. One passage did catch my attention about Churchill's faith: “He showed me a quotation from the 112th Psalm....'He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.' [p.13]

Churchill was never a religious man. But I do remember reading from his works and autobiographers, that during the war, he found comfort in knowing that a great spiritual force would not allow evil to conquer good. With a champion like Churchill, a God – if one does exist – could have found no better weapon to defend Christian and European civilization.

 

 


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