tv Winston Churchill and U.S. Presidents CSPAN November 12, 2016 10:32am-12:01pm EST
turn around and go immediately into the first panel. i will invite the panelists up and turning over the microphone to professor dane kennedy of george washington university who will be the moderator for our panel on churchill and the presidents. announcer: coming up, from the 33rd international churchill conference historians discuss warmer british prime minister was the churchill's relationship with u.s. president during his tenure. this is about an hour and a half. nice to see so many hereested churchillian's today and is an honor to be a part of this gathering. i teach british imperial history at george washington university
and it is a real honor to have the nclc opening up on our campus. my role here is to introduce our speakers. as theyntroduce them come up and speak. each have 25 minutes and there will be time for questions and discussion afterward. our first speaker is nigel hamilton who will speak on franklin roosevelt. he is a senior fellow at the john w mccormack graduate school of the university of massachusetts, boston and he trained as a historian at cambridge, university and he has at historyand taught departments in six universities in britain and the united states. he has published 27 works of history and biography.
most recently, he is currently finishing the final volume of his trilogy fdr at war. the first volume was long listed for the national book prize in the second volume -- [applause] nigel: thank you very much and wonderful to be here ladies and gentlemen. i count it a great honor to be --owed to speak this morning to be invited to speak this morning about undoubtedly the two greatest men of the 20th century.
franklin churchill and delano roosevelt. and in doing so i think we should bear in mind something which winston churchill wrote many years ago. "to do justice to a great man discriminating criticism is always necessary. " to a great man discriminating criticism is always necessary." however clinching is
always insipid. i have addressed this wonderful society on a number of occasions over recent years. i live in boston, but i winter in new orleans where i have at the world war ii museum to meetings of this society and largely thanks to christopher i was invited to speak in canada and on the west and vancouverton and british columbia, sonoma in california and san francisco and i have always been very impressed with not only the abiding interest in history and leadership that has shown in these various chapters of the international churchill society, but the continuing attempt to andlve younger people
although each panelist only has a very short time to speak and the most so many -- wonderful thing about winston churchill are there so many aspects of his life and the lessons of his life to look at. so in this short period we have i will address just two specific topics of the relationship andeen franklin roosevelt winston churchill because the panel is here to talk about three presidents that winston with,ill had relations president roosevelt, president truman, dwight eisenhower, and we missed out john f. kennedy. hero and i think
it sort of best in this brief moment we have together to address two aspects of the churchill left er relationship. or friendship should we call it. the first is the actual nature of the friendship. it ended badly when winston declined to attend the funeral of his great friend here in the united. and the second thing i thought we might address in our brief time together is what was really men inn between the two what professor david reynolds head of the history department at my old university cambridge university in england has called
of october weeks 1943 when the grand alliance against hitler's third reich came very close to breaking rescuedd could only be by its great leaders at the summit at tehran. the fdrut the nature of -churchill relationship. very briefly, there are two wonderful books about the relationship, the first is a book by john meacham, franklin and winston i am sure many of you know it published in 2002 and some martin gilbert's equally excellent book
"churchill and america" published in 2005. i knew sir martin gilbert and .dmired him greatly we lost saw each other actually in high court. [laughter] not as adversaries, but attending the great holocaust trial of david irving who had accused professor lips that -- a professor of holocaust denial. useink we should probably inour lone star understanding and appreciating the friendship and the relationship of fdr and churchill using wonderful sentence in martin gilbert's "churchill in america"
where he writes "no world long,s had such a frustrating, disputatious, and affectionate relationship as winston churchill and franklin roosevelt. --." so that relationship began unhappily almost a century ago 1918 at a banquet for the allied ministers of war in grazing hall when according to sir martin's account quoting fdr "churchill acted like a stinker." "one of the few men in public life who was rude to me." churchill who had been minister
of the missions at the time claimed not even to be able to recall the episode. did it affect their relationship? perhaps. likened the second world war relationship of the two men to that of lovers. buying for each other's attention. but one in which one lover as in all such relationships is the suitor and the other the sought-after. otherwiseit have been in august 1941 when they finally aboard a second time their respective warships. you will have to forgive my impersonations, but i will
indicate what is quoted material . him as a man might woo a made." churchill once remarked according to sir martin and in another quote "no lover ever studied every whim of his mistress as i did those of president roosevelt." the willing failed off newfoundland as i have written in the mantle of command it certainly paid off after hitler's declared war on the united states four days after pearl harbor later that year. a reward that went way beyond the destroyers of the bases, steel, ms. lannett charter, -- namely atic charter
military coalition between the two countries to defeat the axis powers. by the end of 1942 winston could openly say in his mansion house speech after the president's invasion of morocco and out area that he had been and was now the ardent lefttive and tenant. it is what happened after the torching -- torch invasion that was the next challenge for me in relating fdr's career as commander in chief, which was the title i gave my second volume "commander in chief." -- alliestern i lies proceeded to crush axis forces in north africa, taking a
quarter of a million prisoners allies --and east the as i related in "commander in chief" then had to decide how best to obtain hitler's unconditional surrender, which president roosevelt had amended -- demanded at casablanca in january 1943 and in essence that boiled down to a strategic underbellyoft mediterranean military strategy or a second front cross channel integration -- invasion of france overhauled. the subtitle of my "commander in battle withdr's
churchill 1943" as the two men clashed over that main question, which strategy should we adopt? with thed volume ends american-british invasions of southern italy in the form -- fall of 1943. my dilemma in writing volume three is that although winston quebecll had agreed in -- ugust . an invasion to be placed under .n american supreme commander
everything went wrong in the fall of that year. the invasion of southern italy proved a disappointment. churchill's unilateral attempt with british troops to seize the aegean islands was a disaster. war of theof the year approached churchill warned the president that the allies , one thato an impasse could have dire consequences for the allies unless the president changed course and postponed the be -- theverlord to plan for overlord in 1944. they wanted to pour more troops into italy and remount the invasion of the aegean islands cajole turkey
into abandoning neutrality and open sea lanes to cram a a and read -- reinforce -- open sea lanes to crimea. of 1943,e four -- fall why did winston do it? i work on question as the opening section of my final volume. why, having agreed in quebec follow the before to president's strategy for winning the war against hitler's did risk theeliberately very alliance that he had wooed the president to create at the critical moment of the war when
even hitler's acknowledged that the cross channel invasion would be the deciding battle of world war ii. churchill had backed off his objections to overlord already twice that year, first here in washington in may and once again in high park in august before -- ing we have to ask, what would have been the course -- cause? ringing] [laughter]
nigel: sir winston? [laughter] nigel: what would have been the war? would've -- what would've been the cause of the western alliance? what would've been the relationship between the western allies and the russians if churchill had simply and loyally kept his still considerable british and imperial forces, naval, air, land forces to the quebec to midland so that together with a russian offenses and east in the spring of 1944 thoselies could crush between them just as they had done in north africa. , would haveer words been the case if churchill had remained the president's active
and ardent left tenant as he had been over torched? would this not have strengthened the western alliance in 1943 in the fall of 1943 politically as well as in the -- militarily making it all the stronger in negotiating both the wars end game with russia and the postwar security system that the president was determined -- a system that would hopefully be more -- i do not know at this point. and i value your opinions. churchill himself muddied the waters by leaving out several weeks from his account in closing the ring of volume five of the second world war as professor reynolds written in -- has written in his wonderful
book which i'm sure many of you know entre chills memoirs in command of history 2005, ahurchill's fifth volume was " willfully inaccurate account, full of distortion, concealing maverick he hey veer and strategic manipulation -- machination, but the former prime minister deliberately papered over in his deceitful record an account that was guilty "of the most blatant pieces of distortion in his six volumes of memoirs. now these are harsh criticisms by a distinguished -- very distinguished english professor of history. them?re we to make of in some respects the story is
even worse than professor reynolds was able to detail. not only did churchill, without --ssing president roosevelt a full military course to begin in two -- directly to stalin in order to prepare the russians for yet another postponement of overlord, this time to 1945, a -- the secretary of war here in united states called dirty baseballs and the president himself, roosevelt, when he found out about it thought the neath the honor of a gentleman. further, hewent even threatened to resign as prime minister of great britain if he didn't get his way over more of the soft underbelly.
in fact, he declared that the americans if they did not like his alternative strategy should switch their forces to the a numbernd just leave of men in england in case hitler's emboldened did decide o invade the u.k. as i say, we cannot, in this short session go into much detail, but i do think the subject of this crisis is worthy of discussion in our conference and i really truly value your insights and opinions. what strikes me as someone who is old enough to have stayed -- who has written extensively about montgomery, churchill, and world war ii, and who is now trying to make sense of fdr's
military and strategic role in the most violent of wars and him -- human history, what strikes me is that churchill's revolt or insurrection or rebellion or whatever you want to call it in the fall -- late fall of 1943 than either aer personal spat or a strategic difference of military opinion and that the battle between the symbolicas in a sense andean -- inevitable coalition of two empires, the one rising and the other falling. general sir alan brooke initially called churchill's refusal to follow the president's strategy madness, , went along with the
prime minister in october of 19 53 as did the south african prime minister field marshal and the british war cabinet. if it was madness, and other words it was not only churchill's madness, it became the kind of british and british if weal madness i suppose can say of echoes that they can go backwards as well as forwards we think of brexit. as he sailed by warship to meet churchill and then stalin in november of 1943 to try and resolve the crisis that winston churchill had created president roosevelt must've had to play a very, very careful hand, board the uss iowa, the latest
american battleship at the time, he asked his chiefs of staff to produce for him a statistical comparison between the united states and british war effort in troops, airplanes, ships, etc. invasion in 1944, he recognized was critical to the defeat of the third reich, the war could well have been won or failed to be against hitler's churchill refused to be -- participate in ifand had his way, yet president franklin roosevelt could not afford to lose patience with winston, who was probably reflecting his governments fields -- fears not only of world war i style
casualties, but fear of american dominance in the world and post world -- postwar. arriving by plane in cairo next in late november 1943, fdr was thus where he would have to somehow try and get churchill back on board overlord. without overlord, hitler and the germans would not surrender and without the british, overlord could not be mounted. that was the crisis the western allies faced in the final months of 1943 with enormous consequences, political, economic, military, through the course of the war and the postwar. fortunately, some days later the crisis was resolved in tehran and the president was forced to
use stalin as his supporter and not ironically winston churchill. churchill reluctantly backed overlord d-day as we have come to call it took place in the spring of 1944 and it was successful and it disproved churchill's fears and led to reichy over the third barely three weeks after the president's death. let me finish by saying that climactic 1943 struggle between the royal cousins of britain and -- ica was never fully resolved or settled in my view. muchnt to deep and was too a mirror to the growing disparity between the two powers , the united states and great britain.
come in its way help us to understand better winston churchill's refusal to attend fdr's funeral in april of 1945 shortly before he himself was voted out of office as prime minister. a recognition that for all of his pride in british history and imperial greatness that that chapter between the cousins, the royal cousins was coming to an end and that whole new world, whether he liked it or not, was approaching in which written's -- britain's once imperial voice would be quieter and quieter. thank you very much. [applause]
>> our next speaker is alonzo hamby who is a distinguished us andsor emirat specializes in u.s. history and the author of a number of talks including "the aunt the new deal: harry truman and american deal." "thehe new survival of democracy," and most recently "man of destiny: fdr and the making of the american century." professor hamby will speak about truman. [applause] professor hamby: thank you very
uch: i want to talk today about harry and winston. let's begin by noting that the circumstances of their birth exemplified their differences. lived in a palace, the seat of his uncle, the duke of marlborough. churchill's father was lord randolph churchill. harry truman was born 10 years small,hurchill in a rigid frame in missouri and his father was a farmer and livestock speculator who in england might have been a tenant on the property of the duke of marlborough.
in 1890 the trumans relocated to the town of independence missouri, just outside of kansas city. in large -- in a large measure to provide a better education for their son. studentrry was a strong at independence public high school. his family could not afford to send him even to a public instead, he worked for a time as a railroad timekeeper and then as a bank clerk in kansas city with no very clear plan for advancement. the cityopportunities might have offered him seemed canceled when his father called him back to the country to help in the management of a farm that
was owned by harry's grandmother. drawn to the military experience, young harry was turned down by an army recruiter because of his myopic eyesight, which required sick, corrective , corrective glasses. he joined the national guard unit and maintain membership after leading -- leaving the kansas city employment. 1914 he was a well-liked local farmer, active in his lodge and making frequent trips back to independence to see a wallacedy named bess who he had known since his primary in school.
europe wouldin change his life and perhaps it changed his life more dramatically than it changed winston churchill's life. with the american entry into the war in 1917 truman's national the 35tht, part of division, was called to active duty. after intensive training, he became the commander of an artillery battery. he was promoted to captain. in france, captain harry's battery participated in the final allied offensive of the war. he demonstrated, perhaps most importantly, to himself, that he could be an effective and a popular leader of men. troopshe war, his
chipped in to buy him attribute, a silver cup with the in scripture their respect and infection -- affection. harry truman returned to the united states in 1919 determined to leave farming behind. bess wallace and in partnership with one of his army comrades he opened a haberdashery shop in downtown kansas city. , aonderful term haberdashery shop basically specializing in shirts and ties. he also spent a lot of time with various civic endeavors and networking activities with the the hopeis pushing -- of establishing himself as a civil leader.
in a temporary push of postwar prosperity and the plan seemed reasonable enough, but the economic postwar boom collapsed and it was followed by a sharp heession and the habit -- or -- haberdashery was heavily leveraged. his partner, eddie jacobson opted for bankruptcy. truman wanted to avoid that at all cost. , he spent --out excuse me. he spent nearly two decades making periodic payments to creditors. wallace with bess house,instead their own
and upstairs bedroom in her inher's commodious mansion independence. primary became his profession. in 1922 he ran for a two-year position as eastern district judge of the three-person county court as it was called in missouri in those days. it was actually a county commission with some limited judicial authority. his major organizational support came from a local machine known foropularly reasons that are a bit obscure as the goats. it was aligned with kansas city's powerful political
machine run by boss tom into indergast.om it was a career into rough-and-tumble politics and involved a confrontation with waslocal ku klux klan which an opponent of pendergast because he and many of the people in his machine were irish catholic. defeated for reelection in 1924, truman ran two years later for the for your post of presiding judge of the county court. he won and ran again in 1930 and was reelected. in that position he pursued an energetic and much acclaimed for building a modern road system
for jackson county. this was a period in which the automobile age was maturing and flourishing in america and modern highways were a big part of the development. this was a neat way for truman of coupling the public interest with that of the pendergast machine, which after all controlled the market for building materials. -- in 1934, truman declared for the u.s. senate and he won a hard-fought -- primary in 1934, halfway into franklin roosevelt's first term. elected.s easily democrat, he took
his new office very seriously. he displayed an attitude of humility and willingness to learn, but established himself pretty quickly as an important senator, especially interested in the problems with the railroads and conducted an important investigation into their management in the late 30's. he campaigned tirelessly and narrowly won the primary and was easily elected to a second senate term. by the time he began the second term, 1941, the united states was proceeding toward involvement in world war ii.
truman strongly supported franklin roosevelt's in that direction. an army reservist, he also thought seriously about active duty as a trainer of artilleryman. he even took his case to army chief of staff george marshall who told him with a broad smile after asking him how old he was, 56, senator, you are too dam doled -- you are to damned old. you can do us much more good in congress. got the establishment of the senate committee to investigate waste and inefficiency in the water. the truman committee, as it soon became known, walked a fine line carefully avoiding criticism of
roosevelt while going after civilian and military bureaucrats. when truman saw it to investigate huge sums being work,ted for unspecified specifically hanford washington -- hanford, washington, in henessee, and in new mexico, backed off after being assured by secretary of war henry stimson that the money was being said -- spent on a supersecret project that would win the war and no doubt, as you all guest by this point, that was the atomic bomb project. even truman was not told exactly what it was, he simply took stimson's word for it and it one of his letters he writes to
someone that apparently it is the development of some kind of a super weapon. along with the much praised hard work of his investigating -- hadee, truman fought an easy capacity for friendship who made him perhaps the most popular member of the senate. by 1944, roosevelt was in shaky health. his vice president, henry a wallace, was widely unpopular on capitol hill and especially unpopular amongst democratic regulars. truman was a logical candidate for vice president and roosevelt, himself was in no mood to insist on wallace. truman, however he felt about the prospect of a vice presidency but politics take its
course. there are indications he understood roosevelt might not survive a fourth tour -- fourth term, as did many people who saw him face-to-face in the last months of 1944. 1945 less than three months into his vice presidency, truman was called to the white house and informed of roosevelt's death. winston churchill, who has -- had formed a close and it tom -- times contentious relationship with roosevelt now faced the challenge of advancing american inerest with a new president the one nation on which britain was dependent. he was anxious to establish a personal bond with truman, but
opted against going to the funeral.ates for fdr's in his own end had been foreignxcluded from relations. in his early weeks as president inhad to play catch-up briefing books and documents and was in no shape to receive the foreign leader. what followed, instead, was a likely correspondence in which churchill expressed concern and indignation over the rolling soviet subversion of:'s independent -- of poland's independence. this likely confirmed truman's phone distinctive suspicions of .talin and the ussr the first face-to-face meeting
-- churchill less came poorly prepared and provided erratic leadership. midway through the meeting he returned to london to receive the postwar election results and found himself demoted out of office. war emerged over the next year, he could shed the role of defeated politician for that of diplomatic profit. the rendezvous with truman had done less to improve his fortune. trumaninning of 1946, received an invitation forwarded to him by truman to deliver an address at westminster college in missouri. the president offered to
accompany and introduce him. truman provided the fabledrtation on the presidential train car which he had inherited from roosevelt. during the 18 hour journey to fulton, the two men forged a relationship over a long-running poker session. churchill, at least as the truman side told it, did not seem to be an expert at the game. [laughter] professor hamby: stories from the truman side have him looking at his face cards straight ahead stood and saying "i think i will risk a shilling on a couple of knaves." on another occasion he ripped that reportedly asked "what does
a sequence count?" he seems to have been a big loser. even after his american host winning hands in order to avoid embarrassing him. fultoner, fulton -- at he was a winner both as the greatest dignitary ever to visit the small school and as the formulator of the most important -- of the emerging cold war. surveying the world scene he accused the soviet union of bringing an iron curtain down across europe and all but announced the disintegration of the alliance. the speech generated a backlash
in some who had not given up on the u.s.-soviet relationship. most notably from walter. it also threw out a perspective already in the process of adoption by americans most formidable diplomats, dean -- ons in, george f kennan most importantly, it spoke to and reinforced truman's own instincts. and, in britain, it provided backing for the viewpoint and labor foreign secretary -- of the labour foreign secretary. the cold war would have come about without this, of course, but it gave it clarity and
immediately and set the stage for truman's decision a year later to throw a lifeline to greece and turkey as both of those nations raised soviet pressure. soviet pressure. for the rest it became the emblematic phrase of the cold war. truman's final meeting as president with churchill was in 1951 when the prime minister led a diplomatic delegation to washington. dean atkinson did most of the work and they enjoyed each other's company. truman later described the occasion as a welcome reunion with an old friend. off -- afterfth, dinner on the presidential yacht in williamsburg, churchill recalled to truman the initial sdaming in pots down -- pott
and admitted an initial dismay at seeing fdr's successor. "i must confess i hold you in very low regard. i loathed your taking the place of franklin roosevelt. i misjudged you badly. you, more than any other man have saved western civilization." one of truman's aides who was present recalled the big trademark truman grin. churchill, perhaps privately and hisd that he somewhat difficult partnership with franklin roosevelt had
saved western civilization a few years earlier. his estimate of truman was valid and made with the authority of a world historical figure whose own achievements were at least equally majestic. [applause] professor hamby: thank you. williamhird speaker is hitchcock who is the professor of history at the university of virginia. he has written widely on transatlantic relations in the year of the second world war and the cold war and the struggle for europe. and his latest book "the bitter road to freedom: a new history of the liberation of europe." it examines liberation in europe in
1944-1945 and was a finalist for the pulitzer prize and he will speak about churchill and dwight d. eisenhower. [applause] professor hitchcock: good morning. lovely to see you and thank you all very much for asking me to come to this distinguished conference with astonishingly accomplished guest and participants. my name is will hitchcock and i teach at the university of virginia and i will speak about churchill and eisenhower. i spent six years finishing a book on the age of eisenhower and i hope it will find a place under your christmas tree in december of 2017. if you will, a twice reelected and norma sleep
popular fiscally conservative socially humane, antiwar, republican. [laughter] [applause] the time istchcock: right to like ike. [laughter] professor hitchcock: it is fair to say dwight eisenhower knew churchill better than did roosevelt or truman. he spent more time with churchill over the course of a crucial 13 year period. these two men were joined in a common cause against hitler and the soviet union. they formed a close bond and a deep affection toward one another. although they disagreed often and had very different ideas of grant strategy in the war and the cold war, they consistently
saw in one another the characteristics of greatness. in 1945, just after the war churchill praised eisenhower's "capacity for making great nations march together more truly united than they have ever been before." i will not do an impression. i just cannot do it. i am not as skilled as my colleague. but ike, wrote to a friend in 1954 a rent -- wonderful sentence for all of us to save her. "winston churchill comes nearest to fulfilling the requirements of greatness in any individual that i have met in my lifetime." now this is from a man who worked very closely with franklin roosevelt, george marshall, and many other distinguished people. i just think that is a wonderful tribute. churchillmakes the ike- relationship close to the historian is it maps the global
power talents occurring across the years of their partnership. when they first began to work together britain was the senior partner in the war with more men and ships engaged against the enemy than americans had yet thrown into the cause. during the war that shifted and by 1944 the united states had become the senior partner. by the time churchill and eisenhower came together again in 1953 as leaders of their respective nations, the power balance had shifted completely. britain had gone through a profound economic crisis triggered by the terrible cost of the war and could no longer project global power and had begun to lose key pieces of the empire. by contrast, in 1953 the united states was an extraordinary colossus, unrivaled around the world. it led the nato alliance and had military and naval bases around the world. during the korean war it had
rearmed massively and increased defense spending and by the time eisenhower became president in january 1953 the united states launched 1000 long-range -- could launch 1000 long-range bombers. before he took office, the united states that needed the first hydrogen bomb. at that time, the largest explosive device ever there could be no doubt at all, when eisenhower became president , which leader dominated the special relationship.
i wanted to do with the professor did a little bit ago there is a quite striking contrast between the they wereal stories really very different. shack in a hot dusty town. eisenhower's father david spent most of his life toiling in a hard job in kansas. nannyill was raised by a in a world of extraordinary privilege. not just a bedroom but a bed with one of his brothers
for his entire childhood. he was educated at abilene high school. raising a few extra pennies for his family. he revered his father is a great statesman. not the warmest of memories. eisenhower mourned for exactly 30 minutes. continue running the war. winston liked to smoke and drink. his diet consisted
of french toast and -- was a man who disdained politics for much of his adult life. churchill thought of politics as a patriotic duty, a dignified profession and a great deal of fun. i would suggest these differences in comparison to the many similarities. let us consider both these young men pursued kurt that pursued military careers in a youth. as a way of getting home to of leaving home, seeing the world. but were both intelligent they did not like school great deal. eisenhower in panama and the philippines. they had a curiosity about it. both men were athletic.
churchill, a renowned polo player. many of my students think of eisenhower, he must have been the oldest man who ever lived. old,s probably 500 years but we forget when he was in his prime he was thought of as charismatic, physically imposing and powerful. i think that had something to do with his great interest in sports. much more sophisticated and world the. lucky catch for winston. families suffered a tragic loss of a young child. marigold churchill died in august 1921 not yet three years old.
theyn that very same year have lost their first son to scarlet fever at the age of three. more than circumstantial similarities bind these two. eisenhower and churchill shared a common commitment to the idea of individual human freedom. they both embraced the idea and fighting for a great cause is a far better fate than submitted to barbarism. eisenhower captured this shared set of believes in his address of 1945 when he was honored by the city of london. ike declared to preserve his freedom of worship his equality
before the law his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit the londoner will fight and so will the citizen of abilene. now these humane and liberal, 18th central liberal characteristics were their mutual admiration. they had this to fall back upon. because in 1955 to 1955 the u. s.-u.k. relationship was at a low end and eisenhower and churchill found thelsmselves on opposite sides of policy disagreements. sometimes sharply worded disagreements. i'd like to mention three of those disagreements and we'll go into a discussion. those three points of disagreement and i'll tell you what they are so you can follow me as i go along. the russians, the bomb, and vietnam.
they had very different views on each of those three topics. the russians first, march 5, 1953, stalin died. good. well done. tick. for sometime nobody knew not even in the kremlin. the men around stalin were so terrified about being seen and they never talked about it. they had been caught discussing stalin. in the spring of '53, who is going to follow. eventually a curious collective leadership emerged and the principle leader was a man. winston churchill believed this moment of fluidity offered a great opportunity.
let's reach out to the russians and grasp the hand that makes a real effort to workout a new relationship with the russians in this period of fluidity. they would be called to account if no attempt were made to turnover a new leaf. it would be a pity if a sudden frost nipped spring in the bud. churchill longed for a great meeting. a great meeting similar to the days of the war hero where under a cloud of smoke a few great men could share affairs with the stroke of a pen. eisenhower reviewed all such efforts to set up a haesstey meeting with a great suspicion. why? recall the context. he was elected in late 195 2 at a time when the era was still
glowing white hot. americans had anticommunist anxieties. richard nixon known for his success in pursuing other communists. his secretary of state was very severe and flexible anticommunist so politically speaking there was no desire in washington to make friends with the russians in 1953. eisenhower threw cold water on churchill's repeated requests for a summit meeting with russians. to be perceived as being too eager would be a sign of weakness. now churchill didn't give up. if only he could meet him personally and use him to manipulate him and get him to agree to a summit meeting. well, churchill worked hard to pull this off and the two leaders planned to meet in bermuda but it was interrupted by the stroke in june of 1953
but by december of 1953 the two men got together in bermuda ryu. a setting and the sun and churchill did he recalled to manipulate eisenhower into getting something done. it was here that we begin to see the beginnings of the second conflict. the second point of crisis. the second argument. what to do about nuclear weapons. how should we use or not use the bomb. that eisenhower was gone. eisenhower very much in an antirussian mood at the opening session for a real effort to strike a deal with the real
leaders of the soviet union and delivered a tirade in front of all the diplomats. the french are there as well. and there was a new loop in soviet policy. russia was a woman of the streets and it was certainly the same horror underneath. and in front of british and french delegations pretty shocking stuff. and pain looks all around.
the united states plan to rely on nuclear weapons as a means to deter them from doing anything bad in the world. they quote atomic weapons are now becoming to be regarded as the proper part of conventional armorment. and if north koreans or the chinese did anything bad in china or anywhere else, why the united states plan to use nuclear weapons against them. well this triggered an outpouring very mournment sentiments from the prime minister minister. he began to speak. he said the use of atomic weapons would lead to the
destruction of all we hold dear. ourselves, our families, our pressures and even if some of us temporarily survive in some deep cellar there will be nothing to do but take a pill to end it all. not a good conference. his announcement to use nuclear weapons in the case of war was news that out strips anything else so again here are two old friends that know each other intimately very well. really admire and indeed deeply love each other but are on completely opposite sides of this question. how do you use nuclear weapons in the cold r war. how do you use them? to deter or threaten or even to bomb the other side? they were on opposite side of that at the bait and then the third area of debate, that i would point to is on indo china. you'll recall that the french were fighting their last sad tragic battle in vietnam at the ill fated.
eisenhower was anxious about this. if france lost the battle and with drew from vietnam all together that the communist chinese would come pouring in from the north to take over all of ind china. in the spring of 1954 eisenhower began to put together a plan for a grand coalition of allies from all across the world that would draw a red line and they would say we will oppose any chinese intervention in vietnam at any time and stand together shoulder to shoulder and say not one red foot more to the chinese. did he really want to go to war? not clear. historians debate. he wanted to look like he was prepared to go to war if the chinese should come in and take
over from the french. he wrote a powerful letter pleading for support in this letter. april 4, 1954. he wrote to his old company. in april 1954 as world historical importance. akined to the early days of the of the war against hitler. i'm not quite sure it reached that level but that's eisenhowers move and he ended his plea for help for british support in this united effort by en invoking the dark days of 1938. we failed by not acting in unity and in time eisenhower wrote. may it not be thought that our nations learned something from that lesson. to lecture winston churchill.
whose country fought hitler's for two years before the united states entered the second world was a shocking act of bad taste. church hill did not agree that china was the real threat to stability and asia. even joined with us, but the cabinet feared the americans may trigger a war in asia. something that the british were dead set against. momentry significant church hill refused to support his plan. any american military beervention, he feels would a better war.
the americans were not quite ready. the british blocked the american plan for coalition. these three disputes did not lessen the affection of respects between the two leaders. reflect the deeper differences between the two nations at mid century. america was just entering an era of global power. it was struggling to adapt to a different role. church hill and eisenhower met at crossroads in the early 1950's. a when america's anticommunist sentiment was at its most intent. winston gently tried to constrain and buffer american hub rouse, with little success.
united states would have to learn for itself, painful lessons of imperial over stretch. and those lessons would not register for many years after both ike and church hill had passed from the scene. thank you. >> we now have almost 15 minutes for questions and comments. so the floor is open for anyone who wants to speak. yes, sir. >> can a case be made that president roosevelt auz an
and the various disagreements they made. i think it's a question of timing. i don't think that you'll know the president is on record, particularly in the speaking to his son, elliott, as being very very about -- not about the british empire per se, which he admired and respected. but the fact that the british were doing so little to prepare these countries for independence and that they had taken the decisions over trustee ships, be, basically, as assumptions of sovereign sovereignty. and finally, we should remember that at -- while they were meeting in august of 1941, off here, at that have moment, congress was asked to extend the american selective service and it only passed by one.
>> the british empire were not going to survive the war in the shape it had gone into it. so war, itself, was going to leave britain much too weak to maintain an empire. i think he saw, in general, this was a good thing. as far as actively taking steps to under mine the empire. i think there would be taking things a bit far.
this stand up to the challenges. >> well, he was not in good to health to be sure. trip. -- under conditions conditions to be as relaxing impossible to him. certainly, no good for results. on the other hand, it is put in -- hard to point at anything that would have made a difference whether roosevelt was in good health or not. the fact is in the shape of post war europe by the time that the alter conference was a musician of armed forces that was already well established. i believe roosevelt certainly expected the russians to have
some sort of position in eastern europe. that they've been a splended health, so it's hard to see what difference there being made. >> can i just add to that. he was in terrible health, weeks away really, from death. everybody noticed it. i interviewed the last surviving menu of the white house map and he said that he had seen president before he went out to
see mcarthur in the pacific. he said, when he came back. he was a completely changed figure from the one that gentleman had served in the white house since april of 194 the. completely changed us and mcarthur, is on record is saying he only had six months to live. as the professor said, it's difficult to see whether that would have changed anything that happened, to basically, it was a cover up. the russians had 4 hyundai visions in the field both in the east and facing towards japan. and it was very little the united states, even with it's great efforts, could have done to change the positions you see in east and europe.
and i quote in my commander in chief, a very interesting visit by cardinal spellman to -- to the white house to see president roosevelt in, i think, september in which the president was quite straightforward about the division. is nothing wee can do to change the balance of military power. yes it was a cover-up to try to maintain some kind of dignity. into last energy was put
the creation of a nation. it has existed, it has done an and it is thek sole creation of franklin delano roosevelt. >> i think you get the last word. >> naturally. that's what my wife always says. introduction.rful history matters, that is when the most important things we agree on. i want that on my license plate. disagree. we fight desperately over interpretation. nothing is more controversial. you became political because of the documents that transpired were released in 1955 by the
state department. when people began to argue about what really happened, a very interesting book published by the state department. it became a political hot potato. this is at the height of the 1950's cold war. name major point of dispute. that is the wonderful thing about history. confuse it with new debates and new perspectives. it.ice way to put please join me in thanking our panelists. [applause]