Whatever we may think of him, Winston Churchill, who passed fifty years ago this week, never flinched in the face of two of the most notorious tyrants in the 20th century, He was obstinate to the point of being a tyrant himself with Great Britain, defying those who would have made peace with Hitler in the aftermath of the German conquest of Europe. Even as the RAF struggled over Britain, even as the U-boats sank ship after ship, and even as invasion loomed just over the horizon, his defiance was not only insistent and courageous, but heroic.
But with his allies, he could also be insistent, courageous and even heroic. Pressed over and again for a “second front” by Stalin (whose armies were after all killing three of every four Germans who died in the war), he insisted that he and his American partners weren’t ready…especially when they weren’t. And again, after the war when Greece threatened to fall into the Soviet orbit, he insisted from the back benches that Britain’s tattered empire support the Greeks.
In the defense of his empire, his sovereign and his publishing rights, Churchill was a tireless fighter, even pugnacious. Shameless self-promoter, perhaps; stretcher of the truth, occasionally. But during his bouts of genteel poverty, his lonely exiles from the halls of power, even in in his occasional lapses of timelines, he was always the same: a Tory monarchist Amerifile English gentleman. Many of us could learn from his fearless example.