Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of an embattled Great Britain on May 10, 1940. At last, his political exile was over. Also that day, Adolf Hitler launched his blitzkrieg against Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg, and his armored panzer divisions ripped through the Ardennes forest.
Churchill had been warning against this outcome for a decade. It was Churchill, after all, who foresaw the possibilities of tank warfare in the darkest days of World War I. Surely, Churchill pleaded, there must be a better way to employ brave soldiers than having them “chew barbed wire in Flanders.”
Hitler, too, learned the bitter lessons of trench warfare of World War I. Hitler did not spend the 1930s in the political wilderness. He spent those years in rapid rearmament. From the day he became Chancellor in 1933 until the day he launched his war against Poland, Hitler wanted nothing so much as revenge. He sought vengeance against the French, to be sure, and, to a lesser extent, against the British. But mostly, Hitler wanted to avenge Germany’s loss against the Jews. He blamed the Jews for what he called “the stab in the back” of Germany’s surrender in World War I.
In 1940, after ten years as a voice crying in the wilderness, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in Britain’s hour of maximum danger. “Hitler knows he must break us in this island or lose the war,” Churchill told his people. Many thought at the time that he was over dramatizing Britain’s plight. But we now know that Hitler’s best chance of winning the war came in that summer of 1940. That was when France fell under his tank treads. That was when his Wehrmacht soldiers haughtily goose-stepped through the Arc de Triomphe and the swastika flag flew over the Eiffel Tower.
Most important, we now recognize that Winston Churchill, whose mother was American, stood for America, too. Had Britain succumbed to Nazi invasion, how long could America have held out in a world suddenly grown more dangerous? How long could the United States have held out if a triumphant Hitler had given his nuclear scientists the same latitude and encouragement he gave his rocket scientists?
America’s destiny was bound up that summer of 1940 with the Royal Air Force battling Hitler’s Luftwaffe in the skies over Southern England. “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few,” Churchill would say of his brave young RAF pilots.
We Americans may well owe our liberty to Churchill and the RAF. But there was not a single American in the sandbagged shelter deep beneath London’s Treasury Building when Winston Churchill guided his War Cabinet’s brave resistance to Hitler tyranny.
Today, we are in similar peril. Prime Minister Benjamin leads the only democracy in the Mideast. In agreeing with the opposition Kadima party to postpone elections, Netanyahu has created in effect the national government that Churchill was called upon to lead in World War II. United, Israelis stand against the Iranian threat.
In Iran, the clerics declare that the in-gathering of Jews from Russia, Europe, and the Arab lands into “the Zionist entity” has been an act of God. “It saves us the trouble of hunting them down,” say the mullahs. Like Hitler, they openly call for the extermination of the Jews. Like Hitler, they view America with hatred and suspicion.
Americans in 1940 were confused. Why give destroyers to Churchill? If Britain goes down, Hitler will only be that much stronger? Besides, why should Americans once again pull the British chestnuts out of the fire? U.S. Ambassador Joe Kennedy thought it could all be avoided if only Europe’s Jews could be shipped off to Madagascar.
President Obama has wasted three years extending “an open hand not a clenched fist” to the mullahs who rule Tehran. He ignored the plight of the students in Tehran who paid with their lives in their quest for freedom. Now, Mr. Obama has latched on to “talks” with the Iranian dictators. While they talk, they not-so-secretly lunge for nuclear weapons. No wonder Americans today are confused.
Prime Minister Netanyahu warns us. Soon, the Iranians may have enough of their nuclear weapons program deep within mountains so they cannot be stopped in their headlong quest to dominate. Then, we will see the ultimate weapons in the hands of the ultimate terrorists.
Benjamin Netanyahu is not half American, as Churchill was. But he did graduate from an American high school. And he does speak English, they say, “with a Philadelphia accent.” Americans understand that freedom is not free. We have always been willing to fight for our liberty. That’s what the Liberty Bell stands for. If he strikes Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will strike a blow for our liberty, too.
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