“If you will not fight…when you can easily win…”

“If you will not fight…when you can easily win…”

I remem­ber a quip: “When will we fight. When we have no hope.” Can you help me iden­ti­fy the source?

Those words do not track among Churchill’s 15 mil­lion  pub­lished words.. You may be think­ing of:

…if you will not fight for the right when you can eas­i­ly win with­out blood­shed; if you will not fight when your vic­to­ry will be sure and not too cost­ly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a pre­car­i­ous chance of sur­vival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of vic­to­ry, because it is bet­ter to per­ish than to live as slaves.

Churchill was writ­ing about the belat­ed British guar­an­tee to Poland in ear­ly 1939, after Hitler had absorbed the rump of Czecho­slo­va­kia, which he had promised to respect six months ear­li­er at Munich. See Churchill, The Sec­ond World War, vol. 1, The Gath­er­ing Storm (Lon­don: Cas­sell, 1948, 272).

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