tv Winston Churchill and Post- World War II Poltics CSPAN December 11, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm EST
trying to do, you need a massive fiber infrastructure to do that. >> watch the communicators, monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. 1946, british prime minister winston churchill gave a speech at whisman -- westminster college. the speech became known as the iron curtain speech because of churchill's condemnation of the soviet union's cold war policy. westminster college commemorated the anniversary of the speech by inviting author alan wotton -- alan watson to discuss his book, two speeches to save the world. ♪
it is my privilege to welcome one and all. jim, marchtoric 1946, prime minister churchill, president truman and other dignitaries were escorted to the stage and to this lectern by westminster's first marshall. in the spirit of that occasion, watson toyou, lord westminster's hallowed halls. i declare this convocation open. i am pleased to welcome the grand marshall. thank you, dr. jones. on behalf of a future alumni of ourminster college, -- of
guest, -- alumni, winston churchill who was granted an honorary degree, tonight. before we begin, i would like to inform you that this occasion is being recorded by c-span. a short question-and-answer session will take place after remarks from our guest. i asked that all cell phones be turned off at this time. i am honored to recognize someone who is with us to perform the same duties as seven years ago -- 70 years ago when president truman and winston churchill came to a similar stage. i would like to ignore knowledge, with thanks to your service -- thanks for your -- ice in world war ii, [applause]
>> i ask that you join me in prayer. oh infinite source of goodness, you have gathered here -- gathered us here so that we might commemorate that day 70 years ago when sir winston churchill stood in this place and called upon the citizens of this nation to stand in solidarity with our brother and in the british empire commonwealth. hour, i pray for your blessing upon us and the right
we are confident that we are equipped to enable our students to meet whatever challenges that may come their way. that is why we ask those who teach here and those who seek to 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 cause. speaker willshed share a unique perspective about the speech that saved the world. us somehat he will give constructive perspective. i am happy that he is here with us, today. privilege ast
president of westminster college the right andyou honorable lord alan watson of richmond. [applause] lord watson: good afternoon. it is a great privilege to be here. if you read that speech that winston churchill delivered at you podium 70 years ago, will note that the first paragraph of the speech starts with the word westminster. college.the even says the college has a
familiarity. he says he learned the art of argument, the art of poetry, so he is absolutely right that this is the college from which i speak. westminster. [and discernible] indiscernible] insufficient bar, though i don't believe i've ever seen a bishop in there. there was quite an argument going on. there were two subjects of focus.
betweenthe debate hillary clinton and donald trump , which had taken place on sunday and everybody had seen it and heard it. the decision of the electorate in the referendum on brexit, our eventual exit from the european union. on the discussion, i say for about an hour, i thought -- perhaps is one one would be -- one would perhaps say that never in the history of political conflict has --
[laughter] if you think of what is happening in the presidential election and with the british referendum, you have two great democracies, which despite all their history and all their -- nt it is the test of courage that takes a vision to its conclusion. crystal -- plicitly i would say there is a theme in thatorld, an expectation our two great democracies should
provide that dimension of leadership, and that is 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 the berlin that saw the end of the cold war, the , butition of the wall actually, the berlin -- the destroyed berlin of 1945. -- great roundtable, three larger chairs, one occupied by
winston churchill is at his home in the country. superficially, the letter he received is not unusual at all. it's from a college. it was a slightly obscure college at the time. letter and said do come along and we would give you an honorary doctorate and we would like you to prepare a speech. he received a handwritten letter from harry truman who said that westminster college was his home college and if you come, i will introduce you.
why? it was the shindig, the united -- the enormous opposition in the united states, and the roosevelt family. the situation, the challenge that winston churchill was facing when he was going to warn of the soviet threat, the iron curtain, he was also going to speak to the menace that represented for the future, not the loss of freedom that was already about in central and eastern europe. where it might end, and he said quite clearly, the soviet union and mr. stalin, their ambitions
will extend to wherever it takes them, short of a nuclear war. and that was surely right, because much later, stalin makes a grab for the city of berlin, and it would probably have led to the fall of western germany. if western germany had fallen to , it would've been a massive show of force or the use of a nuclear weapon on the west, and then where would it end? ,perhaps with china. the problem was to the american -- public to which he , was primarily speaking, joseph stalin was a great ally, and as
churchill always admitted, it was the soviets who tore the guts out of the nazi war machine. their casualties were far greater than anybody else's casualties. 4 million germans either killed or wounded, and 98% of those casualties of the germans where incurred fighting russians in russia. he always recognized the courage. he knew that behind the chair, was a tyrant who was determined to get whatever he could. quite a challenge. so, it is 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 a man who in 1940
stiffened the resolve of the british people with those fantastic speeches. this is actually what he said, the united states is not interested. when he finally leaves there was a great reception and truman ensures the secretary of state does not attend. the russians do not attend, so there are two empty seats. 4000 protesters are on the streets of manhattan and new york. new york divided in two. on one hand, giving him the freedom of the city, and the hand, 4000 people were changing, holding posters that said no war for winston. it was absolutely riven to a peak. [indiscernible]
they arrange the agenda quite cleverly. they're going to say, now, winston, come on. you don't enjoy being leader of the opposition. why don't you just tour the worl d and make more of those wonderful speeches? dockside, he made it clear he -- he arrived very late and set up a conference dockside, he made it clear he was going to compete in the next election. now, i have to thank you quickly.
-- take you quickly to the second speech, because my book is called two speeches, and there is a connection between these two speeches. when winston came over to make the first speech, truman had been in europe, and as one -- truman had ended his speeches with victory in europe. that was very different to winston when he tried to get congress to be more sympathetic, and indeed financial support for europe. one said to him, look, britain is broke. germany is destroyed. france is likely to go communist. italy is chaotic. spain is a fascist dictatorship.
quite a mountain to climb. remember winston is half american, and he said once, if my father had been an american and not my mother, i would have got here on my own, and he really thought he would. he realized what people are telling him, but he realized that if the americans were not only going to defend europe with the monopoly of the bomb, but actually restore europe, invest in europe and invest in britain and loan britain the money it needed to get itself back on its feet, then the europeans got to something themselves. six months later, the university
of zurich, and i was there last month to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the speech. now i'm going to say something -- the speech is as remarkable as the former speech, in a different way. he says i'm going to startle you. now i'm going to say something which will startle you. what he proposes is not proposing britain be a member. he came to that later, not at this stage. he says we have to build a kinder united states and europe, and the first move has to be led by a partnership of reconciliation between france , and germany. this is 1946.
the nuremberg trials are going on. every day, there are fresh revelations of nazi atrocities. here he is, standing at this podium and proposing this reconciliation and partnership between france and germany. winston sent him a letter to exclaim his motives for what he -- the girltually says i will tell you what my politics towards germany is. -- we willnk you by occupy the left part of the line consolidate the industrial area , of western germany, and we will have the soviet union on the committee, and i can squeeze the germans for everything they have.
well, it all changed, and it all changed because these two speeches ignited a process, began a new chain of thinking, opened up a new horizon. it leads first to a commitment -- to the truman doctrine, a commitment to defend freedom wherever freedom is threatened. if that leads to the resistance led in partnership with britain and the united states, but also france, to lift the blockade of berlin, which worked, and the first victory of the cold war. and then in due course the , establishment of nato. the zurich speech ignites a fuse.
george c marshall returning from china, and he had made it quite clear that there would be no u.s. aid to europe unless europeans themselves took the initiative on behalf of what the americans wanted to hear, that there should be reconciliation between france and germany. george c marshall goes to the economic planner of friends and the plan of the economic restitution of france cannot succeed without the u.s. president. and there will be no u.s. presence unless we change our policy towards germany. so what happened? it immediately has tremendous impact and effect, then it leads
in the end to the founding of the european community. in conclusion, when we see these two speeches and we see the man who made them, let us remember the courage of this man. this was a man who not only was able to defeat his own depression, but a man whose mind had the muscularity to think fresh, to see that there could be new solutions, and to propose them to the world. he does so with conviction, and the result is one we all know. we are all tonight, as we have been ever since he made this two speeches, starting with this one here. we are all in the debt of winston churchill. he is our legacy. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you very much, lord watson. we have a few minutes to entertain some questions from the audience. if he could have a glass of water. dr. jefferson is here in the role of microphone holder. maybe we can bring the house lights up too, please? lord watson: thank you. yes, anybody with a question?
yes, sir? >> i am dr. shields from auburn, maine, i wonder if you could tell us what you were doing when this was all occurring that you , just spoke about? lord watson: well, i was four. [laughter] no, just turned five actually, so not doing very much is the answer. but of course my fascination with churchill became apparent to me and other friends a bit later on. i actually started writing this book three years ago, and it was very amusing actually. we were in the church and there were the schoolchildren, age 12,
and one little boy raised his hand and he confused me with winston churchill and said you must be over 100. [laughter] he said how haven't you croaked? [laughter] so anyway we had to put him right about it. yes, any others? yes, please? >> [indiscernible] lord watson: well, he was quite fundamental to the founding of the european movement in great britain and worked closely with winston churchill. while it is true that in 1946, winston was not advocating
british membership, but 1947 and -- by 1947 and 1948, he is. in characteristic terms, he's not suggesting that britain should simply join such an organization, but lead it. duncan sands was the main organizer of the european movement, and they had a fantastic rally in the albert hall, and churchill spoke at that. i got to know duncan sands quite well when i was a television reporter and did a profile on him. he left me in no doubt whatsoever of his commitment on the european issue, and it was great bonding that happened between him and winston churchill. i think the, you know we talked -- and there is no doubt the european issue for winston churchill became something which
accelerated his political aspiration and ambition. so there it is. now of course britain appears to , have taken a different decision, but the european union we have today is not what was proposed then, and very different indeed. you know that part of the story better than i. duncan was a great man. right, any other questions? >> what is your greatest fear and your greatest hope? lord watson: my greatest political fear is that winston churchill began the construction of an edifice of mutual support and alliance, which was going to
hold the two sides of the atlantic together. i fear that there is potential potentiales of the disintegration of the construction. they come from different places. there is no doubt the british referendum decision has shaken the whole of the european union, not just surprised 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 had half a century in which cooperation has become a habit in europe. if it ceases to be a habit, and the nationstates of europe, the great geography of europe
map ofath, a very thin the european union, if that starts to go on, the spaniards start to think about spanish interests primarily, and perhaps even more importantly, the germans start to allow themselves to think in terms of what is their real national interest, then the geography, the political geography, is threatened. and equally,, and i don't want to get involved in the u.s. election campaign, but i have to say this. i find it deeply disturbing that one of the two candidates has actually questioned the fundamental commitment that binds nato together, which is that every nation has to come to the defense of any nation attacked within the alliance. speaking in terms of it is something you have to consider on its merits, what the record
of that particular country is, same kind of thinking. if we lose this habit of a recognition of mutual dependence and mutual alliance, then i think it could be very bad. what is my hope? my hope is we won't go down that route. when people really understand what is at stake, they will go back to the foundation of this alliance. there was one other element, and maybe i should draw my remarks to a close on this note, but i'm happy to take further questions if people want, there were many things of course which disappointed churchill in his life. he had always said he would only become a king's minister, but never the king's prime minister if the empire could not be held together. the empire has not held together, india left the empire as you know in 1947.
that was a great blow to churchill, partly because he spent some of his youth in india and in the british army. there were other things. he must've been deeply concerned and saddened by the relative loss of power and position of the united kingdom. when he gave the speech, read the words, he talks about the power of the british commonwealth and the british empire almost as something that balances power. that of course was not to be. and then there were other things also, things which happened early on in his career. but i think there is one thing which must have gladdened his heart, and which uniquely he foresaw and which gives us hope
in the modern world, and that is the role of english language. churchill was given an honorary degree in 1942. he made a remarkable speech at that occasion, and he said when this is over and people can again 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 initial image takes on that global advantage, then would that not have real significance for the future cooperation and international structures of the world? how delighted he would be today by the reach of the english language, and it is the link which we share. bismarck said at the close of
the 19th century, the most important geopolitical factor of the 20th century will be that the united states and the united kingdom speak the same language, and he was right. it indeed had that effect in two world wars, so we know how to bind people together in a common effort and a common mission, but this language is not now only but the language of the world. hours,that gives me real hope. [applause] >> if churchill were to give a second iron curtain speech today, would it be similar?
watson:,on, -- lord their word -- there would be things that we would recognize. of course, the soviet union has gone. the soviet empire in eastern europe has broken up, and one of the more hopeful things that has happened since the berlin wall came down, most of the countries of eastern and central europe, those that had fallen behind the iron curtain, have become -- have either become members of the european union, or candidate members of the european union. there is an international competition to gain entry, and i think churchill would recognize that. but behind your question really is the question of if he was talking today, what would he say about putin, mr. vladimir putin. well, winston churchill was very wise about prophecy. he once wrote, i only prophesize
>> and now my friends i invite you to join me again in a word of prayer. now as we go into this night, we petition you, holy one, of providential love, bless us with life as we pass through darkness and strengthen us in moments of fatigue and ensure us in times , of uncertainty. and may we all share in the divine call that in all things we may seek your piece, hallelujah. amen. >> please remain seated until we have escorted the platform party
program. >> often when you look at a project, you look afterwards to see whether you achieve your objectives and at what cost. i want you to see through this last half-century of military interventions, partisan politics aside, what happens after the party is over? what are the aftereffects of war and what are the human and financial costs on both sides? q&a, ryan gruber discusses his latest book, war, the after party, a global work of -- walkabout of u.s. military intervention. >> i went to all of these places. we'll all come with some form of bias, but i went to these places with an open mind, trying not so
much to understand april -- what a partisan much -- partisan point of view might be validated, but to look at was the mission accomplished and what were the costs on both ends? > tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's "q&a." >> author and journalist max hastings talks about his book the secret war, spies, ciphers, rillas.illas -- geu codebreakers were as important as spies on the ground. this is part of a multi-day conference in the world war ii museum in new orleans. >> good morning, everyone. it's a great pleasure and honor to be here amongst all of our attendees and speakers for this wonderful day.