At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill lost his reelection bid for Prime Minister of England. The British Bulldog was down, but not out. He worried of a coming conflict with Stalin and the growing Soviet Empire, and he wanted the world to listen.
In the spring of 1946, a tiny liberal arts college in Fulton, Missouri reached out to Churchill to deliver a speech. But this wasn’t any ordinary college and this wasn’t an ordinary invitation.
“This is a wonderful school in my home state. Hope you can do it. I will introduce you,” U.S. President Harry Truman added to the bottom of the invitation to Westminster College.
Churchill couldn’t refuse. On March 5, 1946 he delivered a speech he called “The Sinews of Peace.”
Now we remember the speech for a different phrase – “The Iron Curtain.” Six months later at the University of Zurich, Churchill called for a United States of Europe.
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“We must re-create the European family in a regional structure called, it may be, the United States of Europe, and the first practical step will be to form a Council of Europe. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join a union we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and who can,” Churchill said.
“The salvation of the common people of every race and every land from war and servitude must be established on solid foundations, and must be created by the readiness of all men and women to die rather than to submit to tyranny.”
On this week’s War College, author Lord Alan Watson argues these two speeches laid the intellectual groundwork for Western geopolitical thought during the Cold War. More than that, he says they saved the world.
His new book – Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World tells the story of the former Prime Minister’s post-war career and how his legacy shaped the West. Without Churchill, Watson argues, we would have no European Union, no NATO and no peace.