9/11/12: Ambassador Murdered, Consulate Burned

9/11/12: Ambassador Murdered, Consulate Burned

Over the last forty-eight hours I have been asked for the same two Churchill quo­ta­tions by sev­er­al per­sons in the news media or in pol­i­tics. The quo­ta­tions are in my book, Churchill By Him­self, new­ly pub­lished as Churchill in His Own Words:

“Lead­er­ship” chap­ter, page 490, “Iner­tia”:

When the sit­u­a­tion was man­age­able it was neglect­ed, and now that it is thor­ough­ly out of hand we apply too late the reme­dies which then might have effect­ed a cure. There is noth­ing new in the sto­ry. It is as old as the  Sibylline books. It falls into that long, dis­mal cat­a­logue of the fruit­less­ness of expe­ri­ence and the con­firmed unteach­a­bil­i­ty of mankind. Want of fore­sight, unwill­ing­ness to act when action would be sim­ple and effec­tive, lack of clear think­ing, con­fu­sion of coun­sel until the emer­gency comes, until self-preser­va­tion strikes its jar­ring gong—these are the fea­tures which con­sti­tute the end­less rep­e­ti­tion of history.*

Per­haps even more appro­pri­ate for the moment is from the “Politics/World Scene” chap­ter, page 439, “Mid­dle East”:

The Mid­dle East is one of the hard­est-heart­ed areas in the world. It has always been fought over, and peace has only reigned when a major pow­er has estab­lished firm influ­ence and shown that it would main­tain its will. Your friends must be sup­port­ed with every vigour and if nec­es­sary they must be avenged. Force, or per­haps force and bribery, are the only things that will be respect­ed. It is very sad, but we had all bet­ter recog­nise it. At present our friend­ship is not val­ued, and our enmi­ty is not feared.**

His­to­ry doesn’t repeat, Mark Twain said, but it some­times rhymes….

 

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*House of Com­mons, 2 May 1935. In a con­fer­ence at Stre­sa, Britain, France and Italy had agreed to coop­er­ate to main­tain the inde­pen­dence of Aus­tria. His fear was that this plan would be nul­li­fied by iner­tia. Hitler annexed Aus­tria in March 1938. If only, Churchill was say­ing, these three pow­ers had worked for peace and col­lec­tive secu­ri­ty earlier.

**1958. WSC to his pri­vate sec­re­tary, Antho­ny Mon­tague Browne, from the latter’s book Long Sun­set, pp. 166-67.

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