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tv   Winston Churchill and Post- World War II Poltics  CSPAN  January 2, 2017 4:20pm-5:21pm EST

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churchill gave a speech in missouri. the speech later became known as the iron kucurtain speech. this program is an hour.
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♪ as marshal of the college it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome one and all to this con vocation at west minister college. in this historic gym 1946 dignitaries were escorted to the stage and to this elect turn.
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i as the current marshal welcome you to west minister's halls. i declare this con vocation open. i am pleased to welcome the grand marshal mr. jeremy hall. >> thank you, dr. jones. on behalf of the future alumni of west minister college, alumni who strive to preserve the legacy of winston churchill who was granted a degree 70 years ago, i welcome you here tonight. before we begin the program, i would like to inform you that this occasion is being recorded by cspan. in a short question and answer session will take place following our distinguished
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speaker. also, i kindly ask that all cell phones be turned off at this time. as member of the this historic procession i am honored to recognize someone who performed these duties 70 years ago when president truman and winston churchill climbed the stairs to this place. i would like to knowledge and thank you to your service in world war ii. baxter, please be recognized? [ applause ] thank you, baxter. we will open the program with the national anthem and god save the queen. please face the flag.
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♪ .
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♪ ♪ friends, i'd like you to join me in prayer. oh infinite source of goodness, you have gathered us here so we might commemorate that afternoon 70 years ago when winston churchill stood in this place and called upon the citizens of this nation to stand in solidity with the commonwealth and all who labor for the rights of human freedom. in this hour i pray for your blessing upon our speaker, the honorab honorable alan watson as he leads us to reflect on prime minister churchill's words may our minds be kiddleed with the
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desire to stand together against oppressi oppression. amen. >> please be seated. faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, friends and our distinguished guest, the honorable lord alan watson. it was 70 years ago that winston churchill stood right here in this gym to deliver a lecture.
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that address has become known the world over as the iron curtain speech, few people remember that churchill's original title for the address that was put into the program distributed to those in attendance here just seven decades ago was simply titled "world peace", but winston churchill changed the title at the last minute and with his customary flourish he changed it to signing the peace. at the time no one with the exception of churchill himself could foresee the profound impact the speech would have on the course of world history and the immediate aftermath of his speech the remarks were seen as less than remarkable by some.
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churchill was criticized by some who distanced themselves from his words, most notably president truman, who despite an overnight train ride with churchill from washington to missouri, a time when churchill was putting the final touches on his speech, he did not know what was his plan to say. you see, churchill knew it would make history on this speech, a speech that brisk afternoon on that fateful day. winston churchill warned of a threat of a soviet expansion in eastern europe. churchill had fateful predictions he made before the
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second world war about the growing and expanding threats, a powerful force that went unleashed and caused such destruction. churchill remarked that the last time i saw it all coming and no one would listen, he said, churchill predicted the long shadow that was about to be cast by the iron curtain in europe as times would show in other parts of the world, north korea, china and the nation so close to our own shores, cuba. as the weeks and months passed, this changed. winston churchill's words that first condemned began to come to fruition. and i know our distinguished speaker today intends to argue that churchill's speech changed
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the world or even saved it. indeed, churchill's legacy is not simply a lesson, but especially for those of us here or those that were touched by it around the world, it is something for which we live. i suspect that our speaker will confront this this evening the bold calculated risk that churchill took when he spoke from this same spot 70 years ago ought to at less set a course for the policy and the peace, peace through power that defined the second half of the 20th century and in that century, in that 11th hour, the physical manifestation of the iron curtain, the berlin wall, eventually fell and it was with a stroke that the world, winston
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churchill's granddaughter who is honoring us with her presence this evening, created the famous break through sculpture which stands as a reminder of a peaceful resolution. i want to take this moment to recognize her for the great gift to west minister college. stand and be recognized. [ applause ] so at west minister we are proud of our 166 year history and unwavering commitment to the virtue of liberal arts education, in teaching and learning philosophy that demands that our students do not take the easy path. you see, churchill espoused the
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same in his speech and in his laugh, so we have found here at we west minister that it is this age old well tested philosophy that enables our students to observe the world around them and to think creatively and to find solutions to the problem in the world that we live and that we ask our students to be transformed and to become the vehicle of transformation just like churchill. higher education, education at all levels shifts and changes, we are confident that we are equipped to enable our students to meet whatever challenges may come their way. that is why we ask those who teach here and those who seek to
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learn from us to go out and change the world and to do even more to save it. that is our mission. that is our hopes. the speaker will share the same perspective about his speech or perhaps more than one speech that saved the world and i know that y that he will give us some constructive perspective. i'm happy that he's here with us today. and so it is my great privilege as president of west minister college to present to you the highest order of cambridge university, the right honorable lord alan watson of richmond.
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good afternoon. it's a great privilege to be here and a great honor. if you read the speech that winston churchill delivered from this podium 70 years ago, you will note that the very first par of the speech starts with the word westminster. he thanks the college for the honor they are doing him and then he says, actually, this word, westminster, has a certain familiarity to it. it has been where i've learned politics, where i've learned the art of poetry, the art of argument and so it is absolutely right that this is the place and this is the college from which i am to speak.
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i went to the house of westminster on monday. this wasn't very much going on in the chamber of the house of lord and so i prepared in a good winston tradition to the bar -- actually the bishop's bar, though i don't think i've ever seen a bishop in there. it's quite a small bar and a place for argument and discussion and there was indeed quite an argument going on. there were only two subjects of focus and conversation. one was the debate between hillary clinton and donald trump which had taken place on sunday and everybody had seen it and thought about it and the other of course was the decision of
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the electorate and referendum on brexit on eventually exit from the european union as it is constituted today by the united kingdom. reflecting on the discussion i stayed there for about an hour. i thought, well, there's one very famous sentences of winston churchill, but perhaps one could be adapted, one could perhaps say that never in the history of political conflict has so little been owed by so many to so few. if you think of what is happening in the presidential election and you think what happened in the british referendum, you have two great democracies which despite all their history and all their resource and talent, perhaps the
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direction is visual. it is the sense of courage, which takes the vision to a conclusion and the end purpose of which is to have a better world. i'm not being explicitly critical of either the people who played a part in brexit or in your presidential election, but i would say that there is quite clearly a need in the world and an expectation that our two groups of democracy should provide that dimension of leadership and that what churchill was all about when he spoke here 70 years ago. to understand what happened 70 years ago, one has to begin in a
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way where this wonderful break through artistic creation up there where the berlin wall comes from, but not the berlin which saw the end of the cold war and the demolition of the hated wall, but actually the destroyed berlin of the summer of 1945. winston churchill goes to that great summit meeting. he sits around this great roundtable three larger chairs than any of the other chairs, one occupied by joseph stalin, one occupied by harry truman and one by the man who for only a few more days is the prime minister of great britain. during that conference, which was a dramatic conference, extraordinary conference in which amongst other things as you know harry truman goes up to
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joseph stalin and tells him that he doesn't use the term of the atomic bomb, a weapon of extraordinary and unusual power. stalin's face doesn't change at all. he looks at truman and then you just murmurs quietly, good, use it. stalin knew all about the bomb. his spies all over america had actually given him all the details and we know that immediately after that exchange with truman he goes back to his own headquarters and he talks to the head of intelligence and the head of the secret police in the soviet union and he orders the outmost acceleration of the program for a soviet atomic weapon and indeed they meet all the expectations of both the united states and the united
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kingdom, but there is a very short breathing space provided by the mon oppositely of the atomic weapon. when you think about the city, it is a sea of ruins. something like 90% of berlin had been destroyed. a sea of ruins. and yet on the boarders of berlin and lying behind berlin are no less than 300 soviet divisions. and what churchill was already aware of was that while the russians were staying absolutely in place believing, as they stated exms.ty that wherever they stood their country would be imposed, he was quite clear about that and with his own people quite clear that we were
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demuting our effects. for very understandable reasons americans and canadians wanted to get back home and amongst others the two great artists, queen elizabeth and queen mary, were shipping them back 12,000 at a time. so there was this enormous soviet power and a weakening western defense. that's the background. now, the other background is if you like more psychological, winston churchill always had to battle with occasional bouts of what we would now call depression and his term for this was his black dog moods. he goes back to the election after only a few days where it's told perhaps i like the story
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that stalin who found the process of churchill leaving and arriving weaker, said to churchill don't worry, i have never had some of that. i don't think that was much comfort to winston churchill. he goes back and he loses. he doesn't just lose, he loses very heavily and at which point the black dog goes. we know what he felt about that time because he spoke to the lord and to other people and he said it would have been better if i was dead, better if i had died quite frankly or been killed in an accident. he says later the flies gather
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at a corpse. dramatic if you like, but actually what was the key to the gloom that he felt was that he used this analogy that he had fallen from a great high altitude to ground level. what influence could he possibly have on the shape of events? to what extent would he have any power to shape the future? that's what most depressed him. then this extraordinary thing happens and the road to fulton begins. winston churchill was there and this letter is placed in front of him. superficially the letter is not unusual at all. it's from a college. i have to say he probably thought at that time that it was
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a slightly obscure college, certainly a small college, and it's a nice letter and it says do come along and we'll give you an honorary doctorate and we'd like to you make a speech, but then the electrifying moment is when churchill's eyes sees the hand written note written by harry truman which says this is a fun college in my home state. if you come, i will introduce you. and churchill's mind, which was very logistical in some ways instantly grasps the fact that this means 18 hours alone in the train going to missouri with the new president of the united states. he's met truman, of course, but he doesn't know him. and he chose for reasons which we don't fully understand not to
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attend fdr's funeral. certainly the relationship between fdr and winston churchill had significantly deteriorated by the time of fdr's death. so he doesn't know this new president. here is this chance. almost instantly miss moral begins to recover. his wife and his daughter actually say to him, your spirits will rise as you cross the stars and winston churchill knew only a few months before had refused the order of the highest declaration from king george the sixth on the grounds that he be g t that he be given the boot by the english people. on the day he embarks he goes down and collects this new declaration. he has a wonderful crossing.
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he loves it. there are 13,000 canadian troops on board and he sits in the bridge and he knows the captain very well from the war. and they're a bit delayed coming into new york and he says i want to address the troops and he does. he says, this great ship, we have been confronted with mountainous waves and yet we have come through those waves. why have we come through that waves? because we know where we're going and the waves do not. churchill had a profound belief in the certainty of destination and clarity of purpose. he comes off the queen elizabeth and gives a press conference and one of the journalists there refers to this extraordinary atomic bomb of an englishman. and he takes the holiday, he goes down to florida, he enjoys
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the sun. he does a lot of painting. he's asked by one of the american journalists why aren't you painting the beauties on the florida beaches and winston churchill growls, i know what figures. anyway, he prepares this speech. when it comes to the actually event, the president is referred to one of fact on the train, the journey down. there was on board the train, we know, winston churchill towards the end of the evening having made the final corrections to the text, crosses the carriage and himself photocopy the sheets of the speech and he hands the sheets to president truman, who reads them and says that he
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thinks it's okay. it's good. it will do good. but he also remarks perhaps more serio seriously at enormous store and indeed churchill's secretary who was traveling with him and was making the final corrections to the speech says after it's been delivered it's created one hell of a shing ding and it certainly did. why? why? why seven days after the speech is delivered truman sat there and we've seen on news reels, why does he call a press conference in which he says i had no idea what mr. churchill was going to say? the fact that i was sitting next to him on this platform does not in any way indicate the support of my administration for what mr. churchill said. why? well, because the shing ding.
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because the enormous opposition spun in the united states in print and the media. the situation to the challenge that churchill. he was going to warn the soviet, the iron curtain. he was also going to speak of the minutes that that represented for the future. not of the freedom what it was already about in central and eastern europe against all the agreements that had all been signed, but actually where it might end. and he said quite clearly, the soviet union and mr. stalin, their ambition will extend to wherever it can take them. short of a nuclear war. and that was surely right, because months later stalin makes a grab for the whole city of berlin. in fact, it was in the opinion
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of the british at the time, it would probably have led to the fall of western germany, and western germany falling to the soviets in a massive show of force or the use of a nuclear weapon by the west. then where would it end. so the problem was, to the american public, to which he was primarily speaking, joseph stalin would be a great ally. and churchill always admitted, it was the soviets who tore the guts out of normandy. their casualties were far greater than anyone else's casualties. 4 million germans were either killed or wounded.
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so many casualties were incurred in russia. he always recognized the courage. but churchill rose, and he knew that there was a tyrant who was determined to get whatever he could. quite a challenge. so it's all over. churchill gets back on the train, and he confides to a friend on the train, this was the most important speech i have ever made. this is from the man who in 1940, resolving that the british people gave the most fantastic speeches. but this is what he actually said. the remaining time in the united states is interesting. when he finally leaves, there's a great reception.
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and truman ensures that the secretary of state does not entail an empty speech. the protectors on the streets of manhattan in new york said really new york was divided into two. on one hand they were giving him keys to the city, and the other side they were saying, no war for winston. there was absolutely a rhythm to the peak.
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he -- [ inaudible ] -- he said, come on, why don't you just tour the world and make more of these wonderful speeches. he was standing by to take on the burden. he made it quite clear he was going to fight in the next election. and now i have to tell you quickly to the second speech. because he gave two speeches to the world. there was very clear connection between the two speeches. when winston gave the first
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speech, he was -- [ inaudible ] -- truman ended with the victory in europe. as one american said to winston when he tried to get comrades on the hill, to be more sympathetic to the popularity of the force of europe as a whole, one of them said to him, look, britain is broke. germany is destroyed. italy is chaotic. and spain is not worth a goddamn dollar. but he said to comrades, one of them, if my father had been an american and not my mother, i would have gone there on my own.
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so he realized -- [ inaudible ] -- he realizes if the americans are going to not only defend europe with the monopoly of a bomb, but actually to destroy europe, to invest in europe and to invest in britain, and lend britain the money it needed to get back on its feet, then europe would have something which will, to use his phrase, stop the world. so six months later he goes to a university. the zurich speech is as remarkable as the first speech in a different way. and there's an instant connection. he said, i'm going to say
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something now which will stop. he writes in "now." and what he proposes is a kind of united states in europe. he's not proposing britain be a member of it at all. but in the speech he says, we have to build a kind of united states in europe. and it has to be led by a partnership of reconciliation. between france and germany. now, this is september 1946. the french have just executed a collaborator. there are nazi atrocities of horror. yet here he is standing at the second podium and proposing this second reconciliation between
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france and germany. to go is an po president-elect tick. trying to explain what he said. but actually -- [ inaudible ] -- i'll tell you what my politics on germany is. we'll occupy the left side of the rhine. and we will have the soviet union in that committee. and i will squeeze germany for every penny they have. voila! well, it all changed. and it all changed because these two speeches lit a fuse, ignited ooh protest, to channel a new
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chain of thinking. in the case of fulton, it leads first to the truman government, and to defend freedom wherever freedom is threatened. and that leads to the resistance led in partnership by britain and by the united states, but also france, to lift the blockade of berlin. which works. which works. the first victory of the cold war. and then in due course, the establishment of --. the zurich speech ignites a fuse. coming into the office returning from china, he made it quite clear that there would be no u.s. aid to europe unless europeans themselves took the initiative, came forward with their proposals, and on behalf
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of what the americans wanted to get, was that there should be reconciliation between france and germany. of he goes to the general and says, general, the plan for the economic restitution cannot succeed without the u.s. president. and there will be no u.s. president unless we change our policy towards germany. it immediately has tremendous impact and effect. and then it leads to the founding of the european --. >> in conclusion, when we see these two speeches, and we see the man who made them, let us remember the courage of this
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man. this was a man who was not only able to defeat his own depression, but a man whose mind had the muscularity to think afresh, to see that there could be new solutions and propose them to the world. he does so with the conviction of one all in. we're all tonight, as we have been ever since he made those two speeches, starting with this one here, we are all in the thick of winston churchill. he is our legacy. thank you. [ applause ] [ applause ]
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>> thank you very much. we have a few moments to entertain questions from the audience. and if we could have a glass of water. dr. jefferson is in the role here as microphone holder. will you please approach -- bring some of the house lights up, too, please. >> thank you. yes? any questions? yes, sir? >> i'm thomas shields.
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i'm from auburn, maine. i wonder if you could tell us what you were doing when this was all occurring that you spoke about? >> well, i was 4. i'd just turned 5, actually. so not doing very much is the answer. but, of course, my fascination with churchill became apparent to me and to other friends. i actually started writing this book three years ago. and it was very amusing, actually, that we were at the church and there were school children age 12. and one was a boy who came to question me. he put up his hand. and he confused be my birthday with that of winston churchill's. he calculated it and he said, you must be over a hundred.
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[ laughter ] he said, how haven't you -- [ inaudible ] so we had to put him right about it. yes, please. >> [ inaudible ]. >> well, it was really quite fundamental to the founding of the european movement in great britain. and he worked very closely with winston churchill. while it is true that in 1946, winston would not abdicate him, by 1947 and 1948 he is. and in characteristic terms, of course, he's not suggesting that britain should simply join an organization, but be it.
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and i would say it was inspiring the main organizer of the european movement. they had a fantastic rally in the outer hall. and churchill spoke to that. i got to know the doctor quite well. i did a profile for him for london weekend. he left no doubt whatsoever of his commitment on the european issue, and this great bonding that happened between him and winston churchill. there is no doubt that the european issue for winston churchill came something which accelerated his political aspiration and ambition. and so there is this, that britain chose to take a different view. and in the european that was not what was being proposed then.
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it was very, very different indeed. you know that story better than i. any other questions? >> what is your greatest fear, and what is your greatest hope? >> my greatest political fear is winston churchill's instruction of the edifice of mutual support and alliance which was going to hold the two sides of the atlantic together. i fear that now there is potential disintegration of that construction. and they come from different places.
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there's no doubt that the british referendum of its position has shaken the whole european union, not just surprising a great number of people in britain and around the world. but it raises fundamental questions about the nature and the direction of european cooperation. and we must not be complacent, because we have the potential in which cooperation has become a habit in europe. if it ceases to be a habit, and the great geography of europe underneath -- in a way, very thin map of the european unio union -- [ inaudible ] -- perhaps more important for journalists will start to allow themselves to think in terms of what is their real national interests.
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then the geography, the political jehography geoography is threatened. one of the two candidates question the commitment that binds nato together, which is that every nation has to come to the defense of any nation that is attacked within the alliance. and speaking in terms of, well, this is something you really have to consider on its merit. you have to look at what the record of that particular country is. same kind of thinking. and if we lose this habit of a recognition of neutral defenders, and mutual alliance, then i think it could be very bad. what is my hope? my hope is that we will not go down that route.
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that when people begin to understand what is really at stake, they will go back in a way to the chichillian foundation of this alliance. there was one other element, and maybe i should make my remarks on this note. there are many things, of course, which disappointed churchill in his life. he had always said that he would only become -- that he would never become the king's prime minister if the empire could not be held together. the empire was not held together. india left the empire, as you know, in 1947. that was a great blow to churchill. probably because he spent so much of his youth in india. there are other things.
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he was deeply concerned in fact by the incredible loss of power of the united kingdom. when he gave the fulton speech, we can read the words. he talks about the power of the british commonwealth and empire. there were other things also. things which happened early on in his career. but i think there's one thing which must have gladdened his heart and which uniquely he foresaw, and which gives us, i think, a real degree of hope in the modern world. and that is the world of the english language. churchill was given an honorary degree in 1942, i think it was, and he made a remarkable speech
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on that occasion. and he said, when this is over, and people begin to move around the world, will it not be a wonderful thing if wherever they go, they can use the english language. and if the english language takes on that global vantage, does it not have real significance for the future cooperation and international structure of the world. how desirable it would be for the reach of the english language. and it is the language we share. bismarck said at the close of the 19th century, the most geopolitical factor of the 20th century that the united states and united kingdom will speak the same language. and it indeed had that effect in
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the two world wars. finally pulling together in a common movement. this is the language of the world. and that gives me real cause to celebrate. [ applause ] >> yes? >> this is the second time i heard this sfeech today. would it be similar to the one he gave in 1946? >> there would be things that we would recognize. of course, the soviet union had gone. the soviet union empire in europe was gone. and since the berlin wall came
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out, actually, most of the countries in central europe were those which had fallen behind the iron curtain have either become members of the european union or candidates of the european union. there hasn't been a national competition to gain access of any country. i think churchill would recognize that. but i think behind your question, really, is a question of, if he was talking today, what would he say about mr. putin, mr. vladimir putin. winston was very wise. he once wrote, i only prove esize after an event. i think that was pretty prudent. and i think that's where i have to take my stand. [ applause ]
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♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ [ applause ] >> now, my friends, i invite you to join me again in prayer. now as we go into this night, we petition you, oh holy one, of love, bless us with love,
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strengthen us in moments of fatigue. and may we all share in the devine call that in all things we may seek your peace. hallelujah, amen. >> please remain seated until we've escorted the platform party from this facility. i declare this congregation closed. ♪
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♪ you're watching "american history tv." covering history, c-span style, with tours of museums, archival films, eyewitness accounts and discussions with authors, historians and teachers. you can watch us on c-span3 every weekend during congressional breaks, and on holidays, too. for more information visit our website at
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the presidential inauguration of donald trump is friday, january 20th. c-span will have live coverage of all the day's events and ceremonies. watch live on c-span and and listen live on the free c-span radio app. follow the transition of government on c-span. as president-elect donald trump selects his cabinet and democrats and republicans prepare for the next congress. we'll take you to key events as they happen without interruption. watch live on c-span. watch on demand at or listen on our free c-span radio app. this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the black panther party for
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self-defense. more commonly known as the black panthers. the party advocated for civil rights of black americans. next, party co-founder bobby seale and photographer stephen shames discuss their book "power to the people, the world of the black panthers." they sat down with filmmaker byron hurt to discuss the impact of the organization after 50 years. first we'll see some of mr. shames' photographs. the schomberg center for research in black culture and stephen casher gallery cohosted this event. >> as we turn to tonight, byron hurt will lead us on tonight's fantastic journey with bobby seale and stephen shames. for more than 20 years, hurt has been using his craft, his voice and his writings to broaden and deepen how people think about gender violence, race,


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