Monday, January 09, 2006

Churchill on the War on Terror

Neil Brown, the deputy leader of the Liberals (that's John Howard and the good guys) in Australia, writes in the Australian today, following the release of some of Churchill's comments during WWII from the National Archives last week. Comfortingly and not surprisingly old Winston would have been rather tough on Osama and his ilk.

The cabinet scribe recorded in his notebook that Churchill had announced to the meeting: "If Hitler falls into our hands we shall certainly put him to death like a gangster. This man is the mainspring of evil. Instrument -- electric chair."

On the farce of Saddam's trial and the 'rights' of terrorists, the Old Man had this:

This time he proposed that leading Nazis found on the battlefield should be identified and shot without trial.

Today, this is considered indelicate at best and 'ruthless' at worst.

As you would imagine, The Guardian in Britain was first off the mark to say the cabinet notes showed that Churchill was "ruthless". And other media outlets have added that he was actually "prepared to override moral and legal considerations to defeat Germany".

Heaven forbid that Churchill wanted to win the war at any price. Heaven forbid that an innocent victim, defending himself, should abandon the moral and legal principles that the aggressor has no intention of imposing on himself.

In today's way of looking at things, Churchill would be expected to comply with "moral and legal considerations", be hamstrung as a result and eventually be beaten by Germany.

Churchill had a very valid point in rejecting such nonsense. To win against a ruthless enemy, you have to be ruthless yourself.

Moreover, you cannot impose on yourself the burden of moral and legal constraints if you seriously want to win against an enemy who has no principles at all; you will earn endless accolades and honours for doing so, but you will not win.

And if your enemy thrives on vitriol and hatred, the last thing you are obliged to do is give him a platform at a show trial to go on spreading more of his poison.

Looks like the proverbial English common sense has survived in Australia, as well as in some outposts of the Colonies.

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