Trump and Churchill
I see today the Queen has given Trump a copy of the same book I am reading currently. Churchill. The Second World War. On the occasion of a right-wing leader of this type visiting the palace once bombed by a right wing leader.
In case you have not read Churchills book, let me explain, briefly, the ‘special relationship’ for anyone less familiar with UK military history over the past decade than myself.
79 years ago………..In 1940, Hitler was blitzing everyone as he saw fit. Those gull wing Stuka’s screaming down, terrified children like no bogey man before. Blitzkrieg was a well chosen name. No one could stop him.
The mighty French with their impenetrable wall – The Maginot Line – cowered in terror and gave up virtually overnight. The right wing religious fascists were behaving like right wing religious fascists do. And doing it very well. Germany’s arms production and engineering skill, with Mercedes and BMW engines in their planes, were streets ahead of all other countries. Even their uniforms were designed by the best – Hugo Boss. The Third Reich forces were simply the best. World dominion was more than just a probability. England stood no chance really, Chamberlain was no match for Hitler. The British people, without an effective leader and without the tools of war, a miniscule air force with hardly any guns, quite sensibly, lacked the will to fight ‘to the death.’ Appeasement was the way.
Having taken France, Belgium, Holland, Poland and anyone withing tank driving distance, Hitler was on an unstoppable roll. Next up was England. This was ‘cometh the hour cometh the man‘. Much as the times we find ourselves in now with the twin ogres of Brexit and Trump dismantling the UK and the USA for sale to their billionaire elite clan.
Backtrack 6 years from 1940. Winston Churchill, in his late fifties was a spent force in politics. Remembered as a brilliant wordsmith, part of the last liberal Government in the UK, now with few friends left in parliament. He had, for five years, been warning the house about the dangers of Germany’s rearmament. They ignored him. PM Chamberlain kept suing for peace. “Peace in our time.” But Churchill knew. He saw the Luftwaffe growing, often paying for his own intelligence to stay abreast of events in Germany where the house simply didn’t bother. He saw the steel going to the tank factories. He followed the U Boat manufacture. He knew what was coming. The cheerfully aristocratic Tories waved papers proclaiming ‘Peace in our time‘ after Hitlers assurances that Britain was ‘good’. False news, that stuff Churchill was spouting about the dangers of ignoring a fascist right wing Catholic targeting immigrants and minorities.
Why was Churchill evidently the only voice pointing out what was so obvious? Even as Moseley openly supported joining the fascist right-wing wave sweeping across Europe. Many conservatives were for alliance with Hitler. Appeasement. Their ideologies were not that dissimilar.
Why Churchill was a great leader?
Because Blenheim palace born Winston was literally bred for leadership. Generations of breeding. Educated for leadership providing the most detailed respect for both his responsibilities as a privileged leader, a member of the aristocracy, responsible for his people of all classes, as well as the remarkable combination of experience and education that gave him insights into world events that we can describe at the very least as, prophetic. He was in every important quality of leadership, the exact opposite of Trump. He was educated in world politics and the History of ‘responsibility and accountability’ that accompanies leadership. he also knew from first hand experience the consequences of war.
Churchill was a liberal for many years. (Since ‘crossing the floor’ in 1904). His representations for the lower classes brought changes to many British institutions. Like Prisons. Like military conventions. He ‘invented’ the tank. In WW1. When fighting in the trenches, thinking – what about an armored land battleship to ride over the barbed wire and trenches. His biography is littered with examples of a brilliant mind turned in service to a sense of responsibility for his Country. He was borderline broke all of his life. When he set off to fight in the Boer war, he volunteered for no pay. Paying his own way by writing articles for leading newspapers of the day. If he had bone spurs, he kept them to himself. When he damaged his shoulder, he carried on regardless with 60% mobility. He didn’t fight for money. He paid to fight.For the experience that would assist his political aspirations. He knew what he was doing long before he did it.
After the Boer war he spent years traveling the length and breadth of the UK developing speeches and delivering them until he had it down to a fine art. Not for money, or the prospect of great wealth ahead. In pursuit of his ambition to master the role of leader. How to write and deliver great speeches that moved the listener to action. Learning by experience.
Then finally, after decades of unpaid dedicated effort, where he learned to siesta for an hour after lunch, to enable working a double day, he was ready for leadership. And in his early sixties, in 1940, ascended to the highest office, Prime Minister of the Conservative Party after the declaration of war and with the battle against an overwhelmingly better prepared foe already seemingly lost. Around him the politicians wanted to sue for a deal with Hitler. Churchill, half American by birth, knew America well. When he visited the US on a tour in the 20’s, during prohibition, he arrived with a doctors note for Medicinal alcohol, ensuring Prohibition did not impede his daily appetite. His knowledge of America and ability to work the system was such that he believed America would come to the rescue, if only he could find the words to convince them to forget the horrors of Americas last foray into European war, in 1917. It would not be easy. Gallup polls in 1940 showed less than 20% of Americans would support joining the war in Europe.
Then came the battle of Britain. Some days 5,000 civilians would die under the blitz of German bombs. An event in history so grotesque I will not attempt to describe it here. Often he would stand on the roof of the war office as bombs fell around, waving his fist at the Hun roaring overhead in streams of searchlights and walls of anti aircraft ordnance exploding as he puffed on his oversized Cohibas. The image of bulldog defiance at any price. Whilst England crumbled around him.
But the writing was on the wall even as the walls of London shattered under nightly waves of bombs dropped with great precision. Germany was way superior. In every area that matters in military conflict.
Next they were coming for The Balkans and Greece. Italy and their Trump of the day, Mussolini, were charged with beating Greece for the Axis. Mussolini’s ‘special deal’ with Hitler. The Italians Army would take Greece. At that time Stalin’s Russia had a pact with Germany for non aggression. And as both Hitler and Churchill knew, on the other side of the world, Japan was arming, waiting. Warming up by raping China.
But Churchill knew the mind of his enemy. His grand plan. Hitler would take Yugolsavia and he would take Greece. And then he would look East. He would take Russia. And then – with all of those resources, he would take America. Once Britain fell, the Nigel Farage of the day, Oswald Moseley, in prison for his fascism at the time, would be freed by the victorious Germans, and made puppet Prime Minister. That would give the Germans the English Fleet to add to the rest of their conquests. No doubt in six months they would flatten American resistance. And by 1944 the entire world would be speaking German and Japanese. That was the writing on the wall in 1940.
America’s leader, three-term Roosevelt, was no dummy. He listened when Churchill explained. (He could read and write proper. WITHOUT CAPS.) After losing most of their armaments in Dunkirk, and with a very small air force to call on, Churchill knew supply of weaponry from the USA was crucial. The cost in planes alone during the battle of Britain meant without support, Britain would not be able to resist the unprecedented aerial attack. The UK had run out of money to pay for arms to wage the war on that unstoppable force; unrestrained religious Right Wing fascism with a charismatic leader. (A Catholic from Austria). Roosevelt could do nothing to help because – his polls showed America did not want to go to war. Gallup polls showed 82% were against joining the war in Europe.
So Britain stood alone in the ‘Darkest hour’. Where – only one mans vision lit the way to continue a hopeless fight. That and the incredible motivation by all British workers to build the planes and weapons so desperately needed to make of for the losses incurred by daily bombing raids by the largest air force in history. Herman Gorings Luftwaffe.
The key battle for Britain was fought in the air. Spitfires initially carried eight British made .303 machine guns. Four in each wing. .303 is a relatively small caliber round and unsuited to aerial warfare. How they brought down even one heavily armed Messerschmidt is a triumph to the suicidal courage of of Britain’s young fliers. Many still in their teens.
Incidentally, Churchill points out 70% of those ‘finest few’, the youngmen volunteering to fly the planes were from State schools. The Etonians and Harrovians were way too smart to join the RAF, with a 6 week lifespan expected for new pilots taking on the might of the Luftwaffe armed with a pea shooter. Later American .50 Browning’s replaced ineffective .303’s in all RAF planes. And the RAF became a different proposition. With a standard .50 caliber round for all guns, supplying ammunition was made simple. And .50 caliber is used to this day by US Military.
Then the tide turned. Pilots came from all over the commonwealth and the conquered European countries to supplement the awful attrition of pilots. Of course, RAF pilots shot down might parachute safely to land, and be back in the air, fighting, the same day. Whereas Luftwaffe pilots shot down were out of the war. The attrition started to tell on the Germans. The tide turned and then came the election in America.
It was 1940. Democrat Roosevelt was nominated to run for a third term. To achieve the popular vote he had to promise the electorate not to commit US boys to war. But once the election was won in November 1940, he was able to support Churchill’s requests for real assistance from the US – whose economy was only starting to emerge from the decade long recession. Soon after his re election he agreed Churchill’s proposed trade deal. That is – he would turn over Americas production to provide Churchill with his requests to wage his war.
It was called lend or lease. It provided many billions of dollars in ships, planes, tanks, guns, bombs, bullets and so on for the war effort.
That enabled Churchill to see beyond the awful losses Britain was suffering,knowing help was on its way, and plan for the bigger picture. That included his ideological commitment to helping Greece. It also created a new wave of manufacture that was the start of America’s economic boom that would last until 2008.
Now. With Churchill, a former soldier and combatant with a TREMENDOUS military awareness of war, (THE BEST) empowered by resources to be the visionary conductor of world events, it gets a little tricky to describe in ‘WW2 for dummies’ terms; because Churchill was severely anti communist, and if you read military history you will know how this clouded his overall view, but for now, consider, he wanted to help Greece. And with the new resources available to him by the USA, sent the BEF (British Expeditionary force) to support Greece.
Up till then the Greeks were doing pretty well beating the Italians in Bulgaria. The arrival of the Brits (The BEF) came to Hitlers attention and he was essentially forced by a combination of Greek heroism and Italian inefficiency to send proper German soldiers to do what the Italians had so far failed to do. Defeat the Greeks. And take the Balkans as well. As usual, it didn’t take the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe long to prevail.
Greece fell and on the day of defeat, the Greek PM, Alexandros Koryzis, shot himself. Death before dishonor. Greece was occupied by Nazis and the resistance was borne. Led by communists who carried on the war, with fantastic courage, draining German resources, at great expense in Greek lives, but lets not digress.
It is perhaps the law of unintended consequences. If Churchill had not received the Lend Lease resource from his deal with Roosevelt he would not have sent troops to Greece and the Balkans. And Hitler would not have sent German troops to counter. Those German troops came from his army massing on the Russian Border where he had broken the peace treaty with Russia and decided to take Moscow before Christmas.
Everyone knows, from Napoleon, that the Russian winter is no place to fight. Sending those assets poised to attack Russia, to Greece instead, caused a 6 week delay to the Russian Occupation. Operation Barbarossa. It started on June 22, 1941. Russia stood no chance against the forces massed against them.
Had the Russian invasion started 6 weeks earlier, as planned, the Germans would (almost) inevitably have taken Moscow. Instead, they were only at the outskirts when the winter came. It was by this time so cold, petrol froze. No more tank and air advantage for the mighty invaders. Their advance stalled. And the Russians came back at them with furious vengeance. That was the end of Hitlers unstoppable fascism. Blunted on frozen communist steel, some of it supplied by Churchill’s support for Stalin through lend lease armaments shipped for Russia’s defense.
Millions died horribly. Anthony Beevors book Stalingrad is a must read. Stalin (Who stood at 5 foot 4) was a pretty heartless Military leader, albeit along with Jan Smuts, one Churchill respected.
Consider – had the Democrat POTUS not done a BAD DEAL. THE WORST DEAL IN HISTORY, providing hundreds of billions in today’s money from the White House to the UK at super low interest, Churchill would not have sent the BEF to assist Greece, forcing German delays. Operation Barbarossa would have begun 6 weeks before it did. Hitler would have reached Moscow before the winter cold froze his attack, and killed off Stalin. The German plan for occupation was to starve the country to death. Taking all resources back to Germany. Classifying Russians as sub human. With Russia gone, now no more than a farming extension for the Third Reich served by slave labor, we would never have had a cold war. Or spent trillions on a nuclear arms race……………
The fact is, we would all be living under right wing fascist rule today. Excepting that didn’t happen because: with American ordnance and commonwealth and British soldiers fighting like supermen under a TREMENDOUS leader, the former Liberal Churchill, we won the freedom to not vote for the very thing our fathers and grandfathers died to prevent. For that I hold every Trumpeter and Brexiter liable on my fathers behalf knowing the ideology he and his generation fought and died for.
What is the matter with these ignorant ingrates (Deplorables and Brexiters) with no memory of the sacrifice that went into giving them freedom of choice and then choosing the very thing our forebears died to prevent. Right-wing fascist oppression of the weakest class without regard for the values we have fought so many wars to establish as human rights.
Here is the moral of my version of this incredible story.
England voted in 1940. They chose a smart leader. Abundantly representing the qualities of Leadership. One who read prolifically. One with lots of words. The BEST words. Who had tremendous integrity, even if History finds him wanting in some areas. (Racism, Heavy handed protest suppression. Hard military decisions killing civilians.)
Churchill the elected leader was above all, in service to his nation. Not himself. America had Roosevelt. A Democrat POTUS on much the same lines. And as a result of these two good decisions in elections in the UK and USA I am writing in English, not German or Japanese.
However. It is clear that if Trump or his ilk, the sub normally smart gangster class narcissist, had been president of the USA in 1940, History written in German would now reflect that; you cannot put a mighty nation in the hands of a deviant liar and not expect consequences. It is not enough to lay claim to being a GREAT LEADER when all the evidence points to the contrary.
This may be paraphrasing why the Queen gave Trump Churchill’s book to read. Of course the odds he will ever read it are between slim and none. It has no pictures.
And the conclusion is not ” ……And then Russia won. America was defeated. The End”.
Which is where we stand now. On the precipice of deciding.
Brexit and Trump = Russia won. And those who ignore the lessons of history will learn, it always ends the same way. It has to if you want to carry on speaking English.
Andrew Brel’s first book The Emergency Bouzouki Player was published in 2011 and is a first-hand account of conscription in South Africa’s Apartheid army.
An anti war polemic underpinned by dark humor.
His second book ‘One Day in Paris’ is a novel being one year in the life of former British Army officer, Dan Blake.
An action thriller with love and guns and high-tech weaponry generating billions in trade deals.
Andrew Brel has several short stories published including:
Nolan Cash. Bowling Green.
The authorized biography of Nolan Cash and the story of Bowling Green.
Krishna Vardu Ghan and the Keys for Conduct.
A self-help guidance book. With meditation art guidance.
Diane Sutton and the hanging judge
based on real events in the world of British family-law.
Blake Sherman’s AR-15
A coming of age love story
about gun-law in the USA.