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tv   George Will on Iron Curtain Speech 75th Anniversary  CSPAN  August 5, 2022 11:34pm-12:14am EDT

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shaped the american story. find us at c-span history. >> westminster college has been a host for a series of very famous lectures, the john green foundation lecture among them. the lecture churchill
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delivered here 75 years ago. others celebrated lecture series the cherry price the newly established in broward lectureship was by churchill fellow and last westminster college class of 1957. but one of the most memorable lecture series here at the college is the enid and art crosby lecture series. since 1981 scholars, statesmen and men women have delivered lectures in historic to share with us thoughts on churchill, the anglo-american relation and other topics, other speakers have included andrew roberts, sir martin gilbert, and others all of whom have been given this distinguished lecture series. today we present the 34th unit and are crosby lecture during the first to be delivered virtually to a global audience. and to introduce today's
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speaker i am pleased to welcome churchill fellow and the current director of the institute for museum and library services crosby kemper. >> thank you very much tim i appreciate that introduction. the early 19 '90s he came to kansas city to speak. i'm sure he won't remember this. i was conducting a campaign with petitions, banners, bumper stickers to bring real grass to the field at royals stadium. i was honored to sit next to him at lunch he gave me a learned disposition on the seven layer composition of grass at camden yards. i think he was on the orioles board at that point. we talked of the great groundskeeper whose work i was defending. george will was 25
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commissioners revolutionize those to the existential benefit of the kansas city royals. i hope he has a 2005 world series ring. and he signed my petition too. perhaps along with this lecture series on churchill and his times is my one lasting contribution to civilization. and life activities central to george will's war he came back to kansas city again, i'm not going to remember this picture speak for the banquet i worked for in early 2000. i invited him to go with me to the negro league museum and told me he'd already been there early that morning. so he was on the advisory board. a citizen at work. i hope he agrees with me
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perhaps with asterix of course is baseball men at work there he found my notes for the previous introduction for which i opened with a lifelong chicago cubs fan clearly has a tragic sense of life. that line is they say is no longer operational. with this introduction i rewrote the two summative books of his political philosophies. from 1983 it's recently published conservative sensibility. these are the works of eight lifelong american conservative in an almost lifelong republican he retains his tragic sense of life. i should say from statecraft to soul craft he has gone from being a european conservative
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to being an american conservative. his index for the first is heavily weighted in the new magnum opus it's in madison and hamilton and particularly the federalist papers and their nemesis woodrow wilson. and many ways the book is witty and demonstrating british philosophy he quotes saying dreaming and generate tyranny. george wills is a great critic of the overreaching overheated rationalist progressivism of our time. tierney and defenses against it are the subject of churchill's great speech. he finds the greatest defense and the heritage and tradition of the rule of law exemplified by unwritten constitution and that well written american constitution. they are our civil religion.
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scalia at saint we do not have a monarch, we have a constitution. he himself churchill speaks of the iron curtain speech about magna carta, the bill of rights, habeas corpus trial by jury, english common law and most famous of the declaration of independence. the work i do today is director of the institute as we head into the 250th anniversary of the founding we can find this luminous moment and do the work of sharing this heritage and ideals at the remarkable experience that george wills writes so brilliantly about. he's our greatest interpreter of government and politics the
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rhetoric not completely lost from our founders. the greatest earlier interpreter is winston churchill. and so on the anniversary of the 75th anniversary of his great call to action for the preservation we are able to welcome george wells his words of found a luminosity in our founding and occasionally the poetry enter politics. ladies and gentlemen. went to thank you first i want to also thank you for giving me the occasion to where my bowtie navy blue, white polkadots. i thank you for the privilege of speaking on this 75th anniversary of winston churchill's a great speech. a speech he himself considered his greatest speech which is
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saying something with a lifetime of wonderful rhetoric. his speech did two things. first his speech and validated from the state of missouri. perhaps the greatest mark twain. twain said god invented war to teach americans geography. winston churchill is the reason why churchill's announce the onset of the cold war which would continue for 43 years. as he did in the 1930s 1940s churchill saw things early and said things clearly. i haven't amiable long distance disagreement as a child of central illinois i insist lincoln is the greatest
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figure in the history of world politics. and everyone insists it is churchill. this much is indisputable. the only remaining argument he did something that great hoarders can do cap the imagination, anxiety, puzzlement, a phrase that riveted attention, is into two syllable words the high stakes of the politics, it was of course iron curtain. the word iron suggested the danger of permanence as did the beginning of august of 1961 the concrete of the berlin wall. but part of churchill's
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realism which is my subject today is the knowledge that nothing necessarily lasts. nothing. the only political things that last work tirelessly to make permanent or to get rid of. the second phrase iron curtain, the phrase which itself has lasted is the word curtain. curtains are put up to prevent people from seeing things. churchill knew the evil architects of the iron curtain had something to hide. it's the principle of churchill's realism was the honest, candid, forthright use of resources of the english language. especially the simple such as iron and curtain. the second principle of churchill's realism is to
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realize people do not wish to be realistic. indeed they wish to be spared. the reality you see can be distressing and demanding and dangerous. : : : >> we withdrew 16 years of grinding depression and total war, they were having challenges and for restoration of normality. to americans yearning from respite from heavy response abilities, churchill said not yet, he said, there will be no holiday from history. he said, if i would have him
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speaking the language language of his nation's greatest writer, americans must sum up there - and the world needed americans. in 1946 world of shattered nations, there were things that only the united states could do. the recent secretary of the united states is the indispensable nation and through today, even more true in 1946. the first thing that only the united states could do is the pairing of the shattered nations, was to begin the next year with the announcement of the russian plan. but two world wars, perhaps we should say the 20th century's, those questions about the nations themselves buried and churchill spoke here, the united
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nations as it were born had in san francisco. they have talked about the possibility of the world living beyond the nationstate. there have been similar talk after the first full world war when the nations had begun is unhappy short life. and churchill however, had a romantics a testament to ancient nations not just his own, but the men from western missouri 75 years ago at the west minister college had earlier in his life had been fascinated by the possibility to have the world made peaceful and peaceful by the reduced role of the nations and in 1910, on the other side of the state, harry truman was 25 and he was working on his family farm behind a horse-drawn plow.
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he very likely is the last american president ever had not going to the college in the last two have worked behind a horse-drawn plow. truman had put in his pocket that year in 1910, a copy of tennessee's poem oxley whole. it includes these lines about a world without wars. the world subdued by international law, world tranquil. so the word no longer the battle plagues, and the parliament man, federation of the world. there the common sense of most, and they round and and they kindly at the universal 19 and nice words, not church chilean, churchill knew better read and truman carried this poem when he
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went to france and captain in the first world war. they carried the poem in his pocket on april 12, 1945 when he was suddenly summoned from the u.s. capitol building to the white house to be told that he had become president truman became president the nations was born in san francisco and by then however, dreams of the world may tranquil, universal law has melted into the culvert of war read and today we know what churchill, the nations are here to stay. nations supranational entities, the prime movers of history in the united states which churchill loved as much as he loved his american mother, is more indispensable than ever. here's one example. with churchill and at florida,
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they had no tvs but the planet that is covered with water, the oceans the great global common, will be placed in kept orderly by the united states navy or it must be orderly. were 75 years on from landed churchill's urging here, the united states unfurl the flag of world leadership. seventy-five years later, our nation is wiser than it once was but the limits of its strength. the united states is experiencing part of morning on the road from fulton and churchill's appearance there to hear. hard learning began four years after churchill spoke here and when president truman and independence, missouri took that
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nation into war in korea. hard learning career and trend continued in vietnam and it continued in iraq and in the first decade of the century. and it continues today in afghanistan. with the united states seems to be in a painfully slow process of disengaging from what clearly is an impossible task. a task of nationbuilding in a country that is not really a nation. more than a decade ago, when the afghanistan was already a decade old, had a conversation within secretary of defense robert in his office. i asked him, so when is the last time that afghanistan had a government that was throughout the country and the secretary answered, with one word. never, he said. so, once again we have received
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the lesson in the impossibility of nationbuilding, phrase that would have appalled churchill because it would've defended his his realism in 1955, the year churchill died, then lyndon johnson's former hubert humphrey said that he had the undertaking got it was exhilarated and he said and i quote, we ought to be excited about this challenge because here's where we can put to work some of the ideas about the nationbuilding. and the nationbuilding is a semi- oxymoron. it is a contradiction in terms, the phrase of building. and as churchill knew, nations like orchids or organic growth, they are not to be assembled and
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dissipate assembled and reassembled. and as churchill also know, common as he did from a european ruins, leaders who are not in history, are apt to blunder and they will make that history and low ruins. 200 years ago, this year, honor nations 46 independence day, july 4th, 1821, then secretary of state john wednesday adams delivered a measured statement of what he considered america's proper stance towards the world. and i want to review a portion of one paragraph on it because it is in anticipation i think from a version of churchill's realism pretty secretary of state john quincy adams said,
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wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be, there america's heart with benedictions and prayers be. but, abroad and in search of monsters to destroy she has the freedom of independence of all, she is the champion and vindicator only of her own. she well knows that by once enlisting under other banners of her other than their own she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication and all the wars of interest and intrigue. of individual envy and ambition. the fundamental maximum of her followers and should then sensibly change her liberty to force. and secretary adams recommended this, the world was very
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different. and what he recommended was proven to be an easier said than done in the two sentences which the united states had risen to responsibilities around the world. it simply is not possible, the united states need merely what adams called the well-wishers of those who long for freedom. it is not possible because our national house is that the physical by which we live and that we espouse are exclusively universal. we are as hard greatest president said, mr. lincoln from central illinois, we certainly are a nation dedicated to a proposition. and the most important and that proposition is all, all men are created equal. and john quincy adams made his announcement in 1821, the united
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states had negligible military capabilities and as they pivoted the nation and protected by the existence of two neighbors and nations to reverse only by wind powered ships. two centuries later, the world is together by economic civilization and the globe has been trump by technologies of travel, communications and the projection the military power. the united states foreign policy should therefore adopt the prudence of the secretary adams recommended. it must however have a 2 trillion cents of the great responsibilities that come with america's great power and america's great principles. both of which were subject of the speech made 75 years ago in fulton, missouri. in the guiding foreign policy, the american mind is bifurcated. and on the one hand, we are a
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nation of immigrants, we are all descended from people who came here to get away from their, wherever there was really is too entangled with the wars and revolutions so, america's extinct of isolation sleep lightly when it sleeps at all. and on the other hand, where nation whose creed impels us to lean into the world in a way that churchill encouraged. in a way that saved churchill's nation as he will do, and pearl harvey benton harbor when we were blasted in to the world conflict. and today were as much american citizens to the nature of our nation. there are those who advocated tribal nationalism, a nationalism suited for what the advocates called a christian
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caucasian nation. and they understand america better than some of today's america's do. and margaret patrick, the most written since churchill himself, correctly said this. european nations were made by history. the united states was made by philosophy. that philosophy are the heart of which the universal natural vices all directly permitted to u.s. foreign policy. in henry kissinger has argued americans listen the principals are universally true implies that governments based on the principles are less than legitimate and they are as it word on permanent probation. their founding documents the declaration of independence, does not mince words. it says that governments derive in the just hours in the just
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powers from the consent of the government. therefore many of the world's governments do not have just powers. kissinger has also said that on the one hand, americans frequently seem to regard foreign policy as an optional activity and on the other hand, the breath of the american principles should be universal and believe that justice would be served if all nations into our nation. in this sometimes begets another belief. that the u.s. foreign policy should have a purpose of spreading our universal truths. winston churchill knew better and remember, this is a man who loved our country. winston churchill understood this custody of history. the vast inertia nations and national cultures. he was adverse to unrealistic
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national ambitions abroad. the united states had paid a steep price for not sharing his realism about this. in march of 2003, three weeks before the u.s. invasion of iraq, president george w. bush said, and i quote that human cultures can be vastly different if the human heart desires the same things, everywhere in earth. that is, i suggest and i think churchill would said, wishful thinking. exactly the sort of thinking that churchill deplored. it is refuted by virtually every chapter of given history which is a story still being written. a strife, and occasioned by passionate political differences. the human heart just is not the
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same everywhere. and churchill knew this. he knew the tragic dimension. which is that in peace, human desires were only exist and will always conflict. after the u.s. invasion in july 2003, the british prime minister attorney blair told the joint session of the u.s. congress that it is a myth that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture. ours are not western values, the universal values of the human spirits and anywhere, anytime in ordinary people would be given the chance to choose, the choices the same, freedom and democracy not dictatorship.
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well churchill, himself a historian of distinction and a key student of history knew that her. he knew that not everyone everywhere shares the attachment to freedom or even if our definition of freedom. some people prefer piety when they prefer central solidarity. they prefer order and there are lots of competing values and freedom is but one. and churchill knew that our attachment to freedom can be institutions indispensable for making if flourishes the product of a complex and protracted centuries long acculturation primarily in the west. especially among those churchill in his great work of the english-speaking people. and as to save baghdad or boston, new york or new delhi,
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mongolia missouri, what difference does it make little democracy would take root in any social soil whether detailed or not, and churchill however, great student of nations of differences in nationalisms rated churchill knew the differences are enormous and important. he knew that even the merely 20-mile with the english channel separates political cultures that differ in significant ways. they do because they have been incubated by very different histories. and as well said that americans want in the way of foreign policy is of little of it as possible. it was something else has also been well said. for two centuries now, they only thing more common than predictions about the end of war is the war itself.
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the vietnam war was america's most severe trauma since churchill spoke. i think churchill is pugnacious and even bellicose that was selected lee so. the words of carl spoke about vietnam, a decorated combat marine in vietnam before he wrote one of the great novels of that war. and his regrets he says that the prudence we learn from our involvement in china has been widely derived as vietnam syndrome. and he went on to say, this vietnam syndrome remained at the least that the u.s. should never again engage in a military defense of informed civil war without clear objectives and
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strategy. and also nationbuilding whose history and culture we are ignorant and another that affecting her children when our lives and way of life on government by and for the people are not directly threatened. and then we should never get over the vietnam syndrome, it is not an illness, is a vaccination that was a quote. and that vaccination wore off and so we went off to erect rated and there by validating that the only thing that we learn from history is that we do not learn from history. and today however we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the great contributions of the western civilizations of political rhetoric but as i close up to indulgence, a brief auto graphical to my remarks.
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when churchill spoke i was not quite five years old. in two months, i will be 80. i have never, not once wanted to be a day younger that i was at any given moment. and churchill was one reason why i actually relish growing older. i have i think come to understand what nature shall do and what mayhem distinctive and indispensable. it was his genius born of living a long and active life. in understanding the texture of life. its complexities, tend to defeat the grand intentions of people who know realistic since. but churchill's understanding that there are moments to what nations can achieve, did not vocalize this man of action. he came to fulton to deliver to
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our nation, a call to action. they came in the spirit of james russell, 19th century american poet. in 1945, our nation was torn up by dispute about slavery and the impending war with mexico. both of which were posed in in that year, along with these famous lines once to every man a nation comes a moment to decide in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side, in the 1930s churchill was for a while nearly alone and in saying that such a moment had arrived. and for britain and for us. and in 1946, came the fulton to urge our nation measure up to another such moment. in our nation did. the united states came to the
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business of creating the architecture of collective security for the world and a liberal regime of trade that is left to billions of people of property. the united states or as churchill might call us, the right republic was where he was a rose to the challenge that he issued at the college three quarters of a century ago. the cold war was declared, the cold war was on in the cold war would be one. and today americans began the responsibilities of the broader discord. they have been applied and greatly labored and enticed by the song of isolations. the temptation of withdrawing from the world. and for churchill to return to fulton today, i am confident that he would say something like
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this there is a democracy in session underway around the world. there are two military regimes in poland and in hungary currently vanishes in all of europe. in nature, the world's most populous nation, the regime's sinister applications of science and technology to oppose the totalitarianism even more suffocating than those flourished in the 20th century. there are millions in concentration camps. and policies in the united states has designated as genocide. would churchill look around the world today and look upon the united states today and he would think would he not draw our attention to a sentence in his fulton speech that is not received the attention it deserves. this is the sentence read there never was a war in all history
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even if to prevent by timely action than the one that is just de-escalating great areas. what prevents timely actions is an realism, the human tendency to come back from unpleasant facts. so churchill looked facts in the face in the 1930s and again in 1946. and what i think what would he tell the markets in 2020 was the subject of his great speech at fulton he would say, to america you are weary, you would like to rest, but not yet. this man what he meant in 1946 and would mean today is what a great nation for the great privilege, not ever. thank you very much.
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>> bravo and thank you for this traffic remarks in a great reminder of the important and lasting legacy of sir winston churchill he speech given here in westminster college 75 years ago and this concludes the talking in token of our thanks, you will receive if you haven't already, a package from the museum here in fulton. including some relics of the cold war and also a ticket to the "iron curtin" to the iron it was issued 75 years ago and to hear the speech here as well as speakers of the berlin wall of the concrete manifestation of the "iron curtin" speech that you mentioned. so appropriately is a reminder that walls do combat eventually
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and were very pleased for that great reminder and also welcome i might add to the association of georgia fellows predicted a margin reduction into that lustrous group. in the association of church and vilas was founded in 1969 as honorary society of people dedicated to the development and youth of america's national church in museums there at westminster college. including churchill's and walter cronkite and president eisenhower crewman and also more fellows and we are very pleased to welcome you into thatokay, sg
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about today is picking up where we left off on thursday with the end of the cold war. and also i'm trying to make sure that we stitch different themes that we've had through the quarter and through both quarters together. the program is titled america to


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