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Finest Hour 101

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Personality of the Century. 1998 Churchill Conference. “The First Time I WSC’d.” Count Xavier Puslowski. What to Do About Iraq? Churchill on Stanley Baldwin. Anglo-American Special Relationship. Cover: Churchill painting by Frank Mason.

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 22

Our members got to talking one day about what attracted them to Sir Winston Churchill. The comments proved fascinating.

One of the most interesting exchanges of 1998 on our Internet Forum (Listserv Winston) was a charming commentary from young and youngish members on what attracted them to Winston Churchill. Most were not old enough to remember World War II, so the origin of their awareness is diverse and interesting. Since these accounts had a huge response, we will gladly publish more of them, whatever the age of the respondent, who may contact us by mail or email. -Editor

Graham Taylor, Toronto (age 18):

My first taste of Churchill, five years ago, was his History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Of course I must have had some interest in British history to begin with, but those four volumes did much to expand my interests, as well as my knowledge.

Rob Curry, via Internet:

My first memory of him was during 1967-68 when my father had a year's sabbatical at Cambridge. I recall that on a tour of Blenheim I saw young Winston's collection of toy soldiers. For a boy of 9 or 10 there seemed to be case after case filled with them. After that, most of my allowance was spent buying Britains model knights and soldiers. I still have a set of Guards with sentry boxes in a box.

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 17

From The Churchill Lecture by Ambassador Raymond Seitz

America's real birth as , a world power started with a bang. On Sunday, December 7th 1941, just a day before my first birthday, Japanese aircraft flew out of the morning sun of the Pacific Ocean and attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. For a new country, which for generations had happily ignored the far-flung troubles of the world, Pearl Harbor marked a shattering of American innocence. After all, this was a country founded on the rejection of the Old and the value of the New. America was a new world, a planet away from the past, where original sin was forgiven and a new Eden bloomed.

But I think in those fifty years of global struggle that began at Pearl Harbor and ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the country did learn a lot. It learned that while America may be different it is not unique. It learned, I hope, that the world is as old as the human condition, and America is much a part of it.

The American fascination with the new is nonetheless a great strength too—its search for answers, its willingness to experiment, its ability to regenerate. Americans are excited by what lies just over the next hill or just around the next corner. But getting the balance right between the old and the new, between the superficial and the enduring, between the image and the reality, is still a challenge for American politics. I remember when Bill Clinton was making his first run for the presidency in 1992. His theme song was from Fleetwood Mac: "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," and I used to mutter to myself, "But don't stop thinking about yesterday either."

Surely this is one purpose of The Churchill Center: not just the study of the great, jowly bulldog and his many myth-making accomplishments, not just the rotund Anglophilia that sometimes rolls around in American discourse, not just nostalgia for the glory days of wartime collaboration. Churchill, I suspect, would scoff at a lot of that—and also use it to advantage. But it seems to me that the important goal of The Center must be to take the experiences and principles of the past, which were so dynamically represented by this supreme figure, and heave those lessons forward into new generations. And certainly an essential lesson for America is an old one: you can't go it alone.

If I could put a priority item on today's Anglo-American agenda, this would be it: a fresh focus on national security in an un-national world, and a reconciliation between economic globalism and social responsibility. And it is this type of exercise, I think, that one finds at the heart of Anglo-American relations anyway. What I learned as Ambassador is that today the genuine "special relationship"—the unique part of Anglo-American affairs—really exists outside the official body of government intercourse and well beyond the headlines and photo ops.

You see this in all manner of public policy, from welfare reform to school reform, and from zero-tolerance policing to pension management. You see it in every scholarly pursuit from archaeology to zoology, in every field of science and research, and in every social movement from environmentalism to feminism. You see it in financial regulation and corporate governance and trade union interchange, and you see it at every point along the cultural spectrum from the novel to the symphony and from the movies to rock 'n' roll. You see it in the big statistics of trade and investment, and in the tiny statistics of transatlantic tourism (6 million visitors each way last year); or transatlantic flights (41,000 last year); or transatlantic telephone calls (three and a half billion minutes of talk last year). You see it in the work of The Churchill Center and Societies.

Here is the thick, rich texture of the relationship at its most creative, its most energetic, and its most durable. The truly special relationship is this: the United States and the United Kingdom influence each other's intellectual development like no other two countries. And it is here, I suspect— where the old truth lies—that we will discover answers about our joint future in a changing, global world.

America and Britain share an accumulation of historical concepts given body over generations—human and civil rights, liberty, the common law and the rule of law, forbearance and equity, the manners of property, the basic freedoms, simple dignity. We may practice these imperfectly, but all of them mixed up together mean that we think about things in a similar fashion, and on one issue or another we are as likely as not to arrive at pretty much the same conclusion. This is not always true, but it is often true, and the relationship emerges from the natural repetition of this pattern. One thing is sure: neither nation could possibly replicate this relationship with any other country.

This past spring, my wife and I visited a house in Tunisia which Churchill had used as a headquarters. Not a month ago we saw, hanging on the wall in a Scottish castle, an oil study of the great man—a study for the famously evaporated Graham Sutherland portrait. You simply can't get away from him. I often pass Churchill's statue in Parliament Square where he leans into the House of Commons and scolds the MPs as they emerge, and in another statue I saw again just yesterday in Washington, Churchill supervises the traffic on Massachusetts Avenue. A bust of Churchill was recently unveiled in the city of Quebec.

And on a little pedestrian cross-walk in London, where Old Bond Street turns into New Bond Street, there— sitting on a park bench—are the bronze figures of Churchill and Roosevelt. Churchill is sporting a jaunty bow tie and wearing his zippered shoes. Roosevelt is in a rumpled, double-breasted suit and you can see the metal leg braces sticking out beneath his trouser cuffs. They are both looking on the decidedly paunchy side of life. Both are smiling. Churchill is leaning towards Roosevelt to catch a word, and Roosevelt has his left arm slung across the top of the bench. They seem to be enjoying the day and simply shooting the breeze.

They may be talking about where matters stand and how to handle things. They may be doing in someone's reputation. Or maybe they're recollecting that day a long time ago when they heard about Pearl Harbor and strapped their nations together in joint purpose. And maybe they're saying that, even if today the ocean is different, we're still in the same boat.


The telephone rang October 29th: it was the British Ambassador, Sir Christopher Meyer. I was sure he was calling about the upcoming Conference, but the Ambassador had other things on his mind:

I am delighted to confirm that Her Majesty the Queen has been pleased to confer upon you the honorary award of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). The award is in recognition of your many years as President of the International Churchill Society and Churchill Centre and the contribution you have made thereby to Anglo-American understanding. It gives me particular pleasure to be able to give you this news shortly before your valedictory conference as ICS President. I expect to receive the insignia of your CBE soon and will then arrange a date for an investiture here in Washington.

To say I was floored would understate the case considerably. But writers are never long lost for words, and by November 3rd I had recovered sufficiently to write the Ambassador, relying for copy on the greatest Commander the British Empire ever had:

Your Excellency: In accepting honorary American citizenship in 1963, Sir Winston wrote to President Kennedy: "In this century of storm and tragedy I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples. Our comradeship and our brotherhood in war were unexampled. We stood together, and because of that fact the free world now stands." He would surely approve of our more recent combined operations in the pursuit of liberty.

The Churchill Center and Societies strive to assure that Churchill's concept of a "fraternal relationship" among the English-speaking Peoples survives to be considered, debated and evolved to meet mutual requirements in the next century, as it has in this. That my efforts in this regard should come to the attention of Her Majesty, and that she should see fit to confer upon me the honorary award of Commander of the British Empire, is an honour which can only cause me to redouble those efforts, and to refer again to the great man's words, when he offered "my solemn and heartfelt thanks for this unique distinction, which will always be proudly remembered by my descendants."

It remains to thank my friends on the Conference Committee, and John Plumpton in particular, for the alltoo-generous Power-Point presentation "Richard's Dream" on Friday night, and the beautiful hand-carved cigar box which they produced to mark my thirty years' involvement in our mutual enterprise. I am grateful beyond imaginings to my wife Barbara, my son Ian, and everyone reading these words, for sustaining that enterprise through their faith and contributions, spiritual and tangible, all these many years; and many of them know there have been moments when it needed sustaining. Writers may only perform if they have an audience, and to paraphrase the Great Man, it was the Churchillians dwelling round the globe who had the lion's heart; I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.

When I was a boy I was fascinated by flags and their symbolism. I am probably one of few who know that the Latvian flag represents a warrior holding a stone bandage to his bleeding body. I still feel a thrill at the Stars and Stripes or Union Flag or Maple Leaf, and the National Anthems we sing. In them I see all the forebears who gave us what we have. And, notwithstanding the depression I feel over the decline of moral standards, individual responsibility and political integrity, there is still Churchill's example, recalled through this enterprise, always ready to inspire the young people we reach and influence through our work.

To clear up any confusion, by "valedictory conference as ICS President" the Ambassador does not refer to any imminent departures. Churchill Conference XV marked the transition from ICS/USA to The Churchill Center. But my colleagues have transitioned me to President of The Churchill Center, and they themselves comprise a fine and able Board of Governors who bring divers skills in critical fields. Meanwhile, and as long as I am required, I will remain editor of Finest Hour.

Kind words are always hard to come by. To the many who have written and spoken so many kind words, my deepest thanks. I can only hope that I may continue to deserve such confidence, and such friends.
Richard M. Langworth

Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 46

The Other Club, by Sir Colin Coote. London: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd., 1971, hardbound, 156 pages, illustrated with cartoons. Frequency: rare. Current range on the secondhand market $50-100/£30-60.

Difficult to find, but always worth the search, is Colin Coote's jolly history of the dining club founded by Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith in 1911 (and still going strong). Sir Colin knew Sir Winston for over forty years and compiled some of the earliest books of Churchill quotes.

The death of the last of its two "pious founders" caused some to believe The Other Club might pass out of existence, but Members decided otherwise. Coote was assigned to write the Club's history "because I was the second senior Member and practically the whole membership wanted the Club to continue. Lord Longford, an Irish Earl, was a Member and also chairman of Sidgwick & Jackson, who were the original publishers of certain famous authors such as Rupert Brooke, who was the son of my contemporary Housemaster at Rugby School. Lord Longford willingly agreed to publish my account, which the Club had commissioned, and having been a frank friend of Sir Winston from my 'teens upwards, I tried to produce something neither fulsome nor fulminating. The book never aimed at a vast circulation, though it achieved a modest success among the Club's Members and friends."

Sir Colin's remarks come from correspondence, laid into Finest Hour's copy of The Other Club, with former editor Dalton Newfield, who was trying to obtain enough copies to satisfy demand (a problem we still have). "I can well understand that it was not intended for vast circulation," Newfield wrote Sir Colin. "My desire for twenty-four copies was based on the idea that if it is difficult to find now it would be more so in future. Of course I also have your Maxims and Reflections, Sir Winston Churchill: A Self-Portrait, Wit and Wisdom and A Churchill Reader, and even though there is overlapping, I feel that each is a valued part of my collection. How fortunate you were to have known him so well."

Christopher Ford's review in The Guardian of 13 November 1971 nicely illuminates this literary gem.

Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 49

By Douglas J. Hall

In a recent BBC poll for Britons of the Millennium, Shakespeare and Churchill finished first and second (see Datelines, page 6). Darrell Holley wrote in Churchill's Literary Allusions (New York: McFarland & Company 1987), "There is no English author whom Churchill alludes to as often as to William Shakespeare. Both by formal quotations, some quite lengthy, and by well-known phrases almost hidden in his text, Churchill makes allusion to many of Shakespeare's plays....[He] uses the lines of Shakespeare in various capacities: as illustrations in his history of England, as embellishments in his other historical works, and as support in speeches to Parliament. In various ways he borrows the artist's words to ornament his own ideas."

The Seven Ages of Man from As You Like It are probably among the most quoted lines written by William Shakespeare. They were written between 1596 and 1600 and I thought it might be amusing to compare them with a selection of apposite aphorisms, maxims and opinions taken from the 20th century speeches and writings of Winston Spencer Churchill.

My choices may, of course, not entirely be "as you like it." If not, why not take time to put together a selection of your own choosing?

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 46

By Christopher Ford

Imagine: The Club, exclusive, immemorial, resonant with the noises of gentlemen dining. Imagine, though, two splendid braggadocios, quite thinly disguised under the pseudonyms of Churchill and F. E. Smith. Our heroes suspect the pitter-patter of black balls. So what do they do? They start The Other Club. Here, too, gentlemen may dine, insulated from hoi polloi; and, if the members seem to be mainly of a political or military vocation, then where else would you look for gentlemen except landed on the grouse-moor?

This, then, is the backcloth, nay, the stage itself, for Sir Colin Coote's latest literary adventure. And with such gusto does he ring up the curtain: "Nineteen Hundred and Eleven! What a year in which to be born! The Edwardian era, so like the Second Empire in France, was lying in the ashtray of history, like the last cigar puffed on his deathbed by its founder..."

Sir Colin was ever a fantasist, except perhaps in his days as managing editor of the Daily Telegraph. He personally wrote a book called Sir Winston Churchill: A Self-Portrait"; and he is a sort of Coalition Liberal. But now, at last, Sir Colin has found a subject worthy of a former Times leader-writer. How like matadors do his characters bestride their political ring. Modestly he keeps on denying that his Other Club is merely a group of Churchillian sycophants; but the great man, together with that Smith among Smiths, are here as Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger.

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 43

Price, Thomas: "Popular Perceptions of an Ally: the Special Relationship in the British Spy Novel," Journal of Popular Culture 1994, (28) 2: 49-66.

Historians of the English-speaking world during the first half of the twentieth century will continue to run into Churchill because he had a greater opportunity than any other person to do both good and bad things. Because Churchill injected his personality into almost everything he did, said and wrote, he has invited the praise and blame of historians in the 1990s, as he did with his contemporaries.

Churchill's call for a "special relationship" between Britain and America after Germany was defeated was motivated by a desire for a closer, more intense connection in order to counter the Soviet threat. On the level of grand politics, that relationship culminated in the Thatcher-Reagan partnership which expanded beyond merely an anti-communist barricade to an ideological economic challenge to the entire socialist world. The Churchill-Roosevelt and Thatcher-Reagan special relationships were at the grand politics level, but leaders need followers just as followers need leaders. Public opinion in Britain and America generally supported their leaders because public perceptions—its images and stereotypes, "pictures in our mind" as Walter Lippmann said—were created that supported the special relationship concept. These pictures can be categorized as four disparate images of allies: Perfidious Albion, Crusader, Corporate Takeover and Corporate Merger.

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 42

By John G. Plumpton

One of the missions ofYmest Hour is to bring its readers the best and latest in Churchill scholarship. This is usually done through feature articles and book reviews. Some scholarship is first published in scholarly and even popular journals, and to cover that area John Plumpton renews his former column of article abstracts, Inside The Journals, last seen in Finest Hour 84. Most often we will feature material directly about Churchill but we will also consider Churchill-related topics or themes in the broadest sense of the meaning of that term. We will include book reviews of Churchill and Churchill-related books if they say something new or significant about the topic.

Adelson, Roger and Sikorsky, Jonathan: "Churchill in the 1990s," The Historian, 1995 (58) 1: 119-23.

The Historian considered the state of Churchill scholarship in the 1990s by looking at recent books by two historians who represent opposite schools of historiography: Martin Gilbert's Churchill: A Life and In Search of Churchill, and John Charmley's Churchill, The End of Glory and Churchill's Grand Alliance: The Anglo-American Special Relationship, 1940-1957.

Winston Churchill, who has long stirred controversy on both sides of the Atlantic, was the subject of most of an issue of the Historian in Summer 1958. The then-editor wrote that "Churchill virtually invented the tank, laid the foundations for the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State, and the Zionist home of Israel, out-drank the Russians, out-talked President Roosevelt, out-guessed Corporal Hitler, and indubitably saved the free world from destruction in 1940." A less heroic view of Sir Winston was presented in the articles that focused on him as historian, politician, reformer and strategist.

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 34

By Michael McMenamin

One hundred years ago:

Winter 1898-99 • Age 24

Polo and The River War

Early in December 1898, Churchill returned to India to play in the annual Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament. On board ship, he worked on his manuscript for The River War, writing his mother on 11 December: "I have however made good progress with the book. Three vy long chapters are now almost entirely completed. The chapter describing the fall of Khartoum Gordon's death etc is I think quite the most lofty passage I have ever written." He offered as an example one sentence about the Mahdi who had been orphaned as a child (Martin Gilbert suggests that this may have been based on Churchill's own experience with his father): "Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong: and a boy deprived of a father's care often develops, if he escape the perils of youth, an independence and a vigour of thought which may restore in after life the heavy loss of early days."

Churchill had strong feelings about Kitchener and his destruction of the Mahdi's Tomb, writing in The River War. "By Sir H. Kitchener's orders, the Tomb has been profaned and razed to the ground. The corpse of the Mahdi was dug up. The head was separated from the body, and, to quote the official explanation, 'preserved for future disposal'....If the people of the Sudan cared no more for the Mahdi, then it was an act of vandalism and folly to destroy the only fine building which might attract the traveller and interest the historian."

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 06

On Armistice Day we welcome the dedication of a statue in Paris to the only man who held high office in both World Wars. Lady Soames left promptly at the close of the International Churchill Conference in Virginia in order to attend this event, made possible by many generous Frenchmen, including The Churchill Center's good friends at Champagne Pol Roger. Ten years ago while visiting Epernay we had the honor to recall the words that meant so much to embattled France in 1940:

"Francais! Pendant plus de trente ans, en temps depaix comme en temps de guerre, j'ai marcbe avec vous etje marche encore avec vous aujourd'hui, sur la meme route.... "

"Frenchmen! For more than thirty years in peace and war I have marched with you. I am marching with you still along the same road. Tonight I speak to you at your firesides, wherever you may be, or whatever your fortunes are. I repeat the prayer upon the Louis d'or, 'Dieu protege la France.' Here at home in England, under the fire of the Boche, we do not forget the ties and links that unite us to France....Here in London, which Herr Hitler says he will reduce to ashes...our Air Force has more than held its own. We are waiting for the long-promised invasion. So are the fishes...

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Finest Hour 101, Winter 1998-99

Page 09

Addition to your useless information file: Cover Magazine quotes Mission Pharmacal, which has determined that the average volume of Churchill's snore was 35 decibels....Finest Hour's 1999 Samuel Hoare Award for the Most Unchurchillian Parliamentary Behaviour was won outright the first week of January. Despite a close run by US Congressman Gephardt, who called for a return to collegiality while wags played recordings of his speeches branding colleagues child-starvers, the Award went to the gentleman who pie-bombed the Dutch Finance Minister, announcing the replacement of Holland's guilder by the euro. The Minister was wiping off the first pie when splat, he took another one.... 1998 Award went to Russia's Vladimir Zhirinovsky, for flinging glasses of water at his critics in the Duma.... Her grandfather's History of the English-Speaking Peoples is recommended by Telegraph Magazine's Emma Soames: "If there was a fire I'd go for all the books I haven't read...I'd probably get burned as I tried to pick it up." (No, it's light.)....Churchill battled to receive duty-free cigars, the Daily Mail reveals, bucking postwar Labour duties as high as 150 percent....Worse, Churchill commissioned a military investigation, Operation Unthinkable, considering a

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