Sunday, March 05, 2017

1946: Churchill and the Iron Curtain speech

On this day in 1946, Former PM Winston Churchill of the UK spoke to the American people about the Soviet threat.    It turned out to be one of the great speeches of the 20th century.
Mr. Churchill did not speak to a joint session but the impact was awesome:
"Churchill, who had been defeated for re-election as prime minister in 1945, was invited to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri where he gave this speech. 
President Harry S. Truman joined Churchill on the platform and listened intently to his speech. 
Churchill began by praising the United States, which he declared stood “at the pinnacle of world power.” 
It soon became clear that a primary purpose of his talk was to argue for an even closer “special relationship” between the United States and Great Britain -- the great powers of the “English-speaking world” -- in organizing and policing the postwar world. In particular, he warned against the expansionistic policies of the Soviet Union. 
In addition to the “iron curtain” that had descended across Eastern Europe, Churchill spoke of “communist fifth columns” that were operating throughout western and southern Europe. 
Drawing parallels with the disastrous appeasement of Hitler prior to World War II, Churchill advised that in dealing with the Soviets there was “nothing which they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for military weakness.”
From that day forward, Churchill's words about the Soviet threat were quoted by every president.   They inspired a new generation of leaders.

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