Monday, October 02, 2006

Churchill and the Dignified Response to Terror

I was reading up a bit on Churchill, on the way he viewed a struggle of total war against an implacable foe, and for the umpteenth time, I again had to shake my head at the failings of our president. Especially this gem:

"You might however consider whether you should not unfold as a background the great privilege of habeas corpus and trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the Executive to cast a man in prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or Communist. (my emphasis)
In a telegram by Churchill from Cairo, Egypt to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison (21 November 1943).
There you have it. Stalwart Conservative and the Lion of Brittania, declaring our new policy on imperial presidential power: The highest degree odious and the foundation of totalitarianism and the Nazi Party. And yes, I do think that the Nazi threat in World War II (which had alread killed hundreds of thousands of Britons by the time he made this statement)
was a more significant threat to civilization then a few thousand Al-Queda types sitting in caves, planning to blow up airliners. We all must deal with risks, and until the danger of driving to the airport is less then the danger of flying in the airplane, we frankly shouldn't waste so much time fretting.

Also, since this fight is said to be the defining moment of our times, I would also like to compare Bush and the reactions of Churchill to leading the British in the defining moment of their times.
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror..."
Speech in the House of Commons, after taking office as Prime Minister (13 May

He also introduced food rationing to the British public in 1940, to ensure that the soliders could get enough meat. Naturally, the draft was cumpolsory.

Bush...lowered taxes on stock dividends. He also decided to invade a country that had no link to 9-11. Victory was apparently not the aim. But he has won the suspension of Habeus Corpus. Odious. Odious. He has apparently recently read Camus. He should also read a little Nietzsche.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146

We have looked into the abyss, the ledge has given way, and we are falling. Despite the damage done, perhaps soon we shall begin the long climb back up, the climb to decency, liberty, and truth.

I leave you with more of Sir Winston.
"The day may dawn when fair play, love for one's fellow men, respect for justice and freedom, will enable tormented generations to march forth triumphant from the hideous epoch in which we have to dwell. Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair."
Churchill's last major speech in the Commons, 1 March 1955.

Never flinch. Hold your head high. Do not lose your convenctions when you peer into the abyss (which lies within all our souls). Refuse to be terrorized. Important principles, all of which our executive has discarded.

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