Category: In the News

Fateful Choices, by Ian Kershaw: Japan, Germany, USA (updated 2019)

Fateful Choices, by Ian Kershaw: Japan, Germany, USA (updated 2019)

Fate­ful Choic­es: Ten Deci­sions that Changed the World, 1940-1941, by Ian Ker­shaw. New York: Pen­guin, 600 pp., $35. At a time when Churchill’s war lead­er­ship is vil­i­fied in lop­sided paeans to Roo­sevelt, Sir Ian’s clas­sic World War II study reminds us that FDR wasn’t per­fect either.

A recent arti­cle sug­gests that Japan’s deci­sion to sur­ren­der in 1945 was by no means unan­i­mous. A few years ago, Sir Ian Ker­shaw said the same thing about Japan’s deci­sion to go to war in the first place….

“What a sto­ry! Think of all these people—decent, edu­cat­ed, the sto­ry of the past laid out before them—What to avoid—what to do etc.—patriotic, loy­al, clean—trying their utmost—What a ghast­ly mud­dle they made of it!…

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Johnson, Trump…can we stop comparing everybody to Churchill?

Johnson, Trump…can we stop comparing everybody to Churchill?

Politi­cians, most often Boris John­son and Don­ald Trump at the moment, are often com­pared to Win­ston Churchill. In a way it’s nice PR for Sir Win­ston. Half a cen­tu­ry since his death, the Great­est Briton still dom­i­nates media. His Google hit count is 100 mil­lion. (Franklin Roo­sevelt, the West’s oth­er great war leader, is at 72 mil­lion.)

Right­ly or wrong­ly, every day on the Inter­net, Churchill is praised, lam­pooned, quot­ed and mis­quot­ed. But com­par­isons to mod­ern politi­cians have worn thin. They may emu­late him, but not be com­pared to him.

Johnson’s Day in the barrel

On 15 June the Wall Street Jour­nal focused on British prime min­is­ter in wait­ing Boris John­son.…

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Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Boris, Racism, Imperialism, and “The Road to Mandalay”

Prime Min­is­ters are always pop­u­lar tar­gets. Boris John­son, Britain’s new PM, wears the bulls­eye over there now. For every­thing from domes­tic squab­bling to “insen­si­tiv­i­ty” in recit­ing “The Road to Man­dalay” on a vis­it to Myan­mar (for­mer­ly known as Bur­ma). In the immor­tal words of Richard Nixon, let us say this about that.

* * * * * “I appoint­ed [Lord Roberts] Com­man­der-in-Chief in India when I was Sec­re­tary of State. That was the year I annexed Bur­ma. The place was in utter anar­chy. They were just butcher­ing one anoth­er. We had to step in, and very soon there was an ordered, civ­i­lized Gov­ern­ment under the vig­i­lant con­trol of the House of Com­mons.” There was a sort of glare in his eyes as he said “House of Com­mons.”  —Lord Ran­dolph Churchill to Win­ston Churchill in The Dream, 1947 Mandalay as Dog Whistle Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing nowa­days, we deem paeans to the British Empire impe­ri­al­ist, racist twad­dle.…

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