Sunday, May 1, 2022

On Churchill’s Unnecessary War

In the preface to the first volume of his six-volume history, The Second World War, Churchill wrote: “One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once ‘The Unnecessary War.’ There never was a war more easy to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.” 

Churchill knew that the Europeans had blundered into one of the costliest and bloodiest wars of the modern age. But he had played a major role in making this blunder possible, since he was Europe's biggest warmonger and warlord. During his lifetime, there was never a war that he did not support, relish, and use to promote his political career. The distinctive feature of his political career, extending over more than five decades (1900 to 1955), can be summarized in a single sentence: During war times, his political fortune soared; in times of peace, it plummeted. The greater the war, the greater was the glory and power that he accumulated. 

Churchill's fanatical anti-German obsession made it impossible for him to look for a diplomatic solution to the European crisis of the 1920s and 1930s. His incessant beating of war drums played a critical role in ensuring that the Europeans blundered into the Second World War. Like the First World War, the Second World War was a European civil war. (Napoleon reportedly said in 1802 that all European wars are civil wars.)

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