April 29, 2006

Shattering the Churchill Myth: Facing Facts, and Becoming Adults

[I first published this essay on November 18, 2004. I offer it again now, primarily because of a recent entry from Jim Henley. In particular, I want to respond to this paragraph (emphasis added):
Speaking of Churchill, he’s a totem figure, I realize, because of his early, vocal warnings about Hitler. And I’ll give him that one. Wasn’t he also a bitter-ender regarding Ireland and India? Would England have been better off politically and morally if they’d drawn out violent campaigns even further against the liberation movements in those places? It seems hard to credit. On the other hand, Churchill wrote, with hindsight, that the US should have stayed out of World War I, so I resist the “stopped clock” explanation that Churchill got lucky because in Hitler he finally met a foreigner who conformed to his instincts. But I suspect that the lesson of Churchill may be that once in awhile, a hawk is showing great foresight; you just can’t, in advance, say when.
Jim Henley is an unusually perceptive man, and I very frequently agree with him. Here, however, even this evaluation gives Churchill far too much credit, just as a great many other people do. As the following demonstrates, Churchill's hatred of Nazism was, in fact, a hatred of everything German, and it had its roots in the old, endless rivalry between England and Germany for power on the world stage. It had precious little to do with the specific evils embodied by Hitler.

An appreciation of Churchill's actual, full record leads to only one conclusion: he was an entirely contemptible man, one whose policies led to destruction and death on an incomprehensible scale. I can only echo Ralph Raico's final judgment:
[W]hen all is said and done, Winston Churchill was a man of blood and a politico without principle, whose apotheosis serves to corrupt every standard of honesty and morality in politics and history.
The tenacity of the Churchill myth is instructive: the kind of idolatry focused on Churchill (and Reagan, and several others similarly situated -- and even on Bush by his most ardent and self-blinded worshippers) reveals a gross kind of immaturity on the part of a distressingly large number of people. Without their Great Men to whom they can turn for protection in times of danger, they appear to feel utterly helpless and to believe they are doomed to destruction. That may represent an accurate judgment as to the courage of the idolators themselves but, as I discuss below, it also unmasks an attitude of boundless contempt for mankind in general. (At some point, I will be discussing the nature of this particular kind of widespread cultural immaturity in the series I began yesterday, Systems of Obedience.)

The tone of this essay, especially in my opening paragraphs, is admittedly quite heated. I remember how entirely fed up I was when I wrote it -- fed up with the inane, ludicrous, and groundless defenses of Bush and our foreign policy, to say nothing of the comparisons to allegedly Great Men like Churchill. If people wish to defend Bush and the catastrophe of Iraq, they are certainly entitled to do so -- but they would do all of us a favor, not least themselves, by finding arguments that do not disregard all the relevant facts, and that only insult their own and our intelligence.

I also feel more than entitled to point out on my own behalf that all the events that have transpired since I wrote this more than support my judgments. Besides, I have to confess that I rather like the style of this essay. When properly directed, anger and passion can result in writing with some color and imagination. I dare to think I might have achieved that to some extent in what follows.]
A sympathetic historian, Paul Addison, Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 (London, Pimlico, 1993), p. 438, phrases the same point this way: "Since [Churchill] never allowed himself to be hampered by a fixed programme or a rigid ideology, his ideas evolved as he adapted himself to the times." Oddly enough, Churchill himself confessed, in 1898: "I do not care so much for the principles I advocate as for the impression which my words produce and the reputation they give me." Clive Ponting, Churchill (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994), p. 32.
For some of Churchill's distortions [about "his role in World War II," as set forth in "the distorted histories he composed and rushed into print as soon as the war was over"], see Tuvia Ben-Moshe, Churchill: Strategy and History (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1992), pp. 329-33; Dietrich Algner, "Winston Churchill (1874-1965)" in Politiker des 20. Jahrhunderts, 1, Die Epoche der Wellkriege, Rolf K. Hocever, et al., eds. (Munich: Beck, 1970), p. 318 states that Churchill, in his works on World War II, "laid the foundation of a legend that is nothing less than a straightforward travesty of the historical truth. ... But the Churchill version of World War II and its prehistory remains unshaken, the power of his eloquence extends beyond the grave." Algner, incidentally, is an informed, scholarly critic of Churchill, and by no means a "right-wing radical."
In 1925, Churchill wrote: "The story of the human race is war." This, however, is untrue; potentially, it is disastrously untrue. Churchill lacked any grasp of the fundamentals of the social philosophy of classical liberalism. In particular, he never understood that, as Ludwig von Mises explained, the true story of the human race is the extension of social cooperation and the division of labor. Peace, not war, is the father of all things. For Churchill, the years without war offered nothing to him but "the bland skies of peace and platitude." This was a man, as we shall see, who wished for more wars than actually happened.
Churchill's devotees by no means hold his role in bringing America into World War II against him. On the contrary, they count it in his favor. Harry Jaffa, in his uninformed and frantic apology, seems to be the last person alive who refuses to believe that the Man of Many Centuries was responsible to any degree for America's entry into the war: after all, wasn't it the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor?

But what of the American Republic? What does it mean for us that a President collaborated with a foreign head of government to entangle us in a world war? The question would have mattered little to Churchill. He had no concern with the United States as a sovereign, independent nation, with its own character and place in the scheme of things. For him, Americans were one of "the English-speaking peoples." He looked forward to a common citizenship for Britons and Americans, "a mixing together," on the road to Anglo-American world hegemony.

But the Churchill-Roosevelt intrigue should, one might think, matter to Americans. Here, however, criticism is halted before it starts. A moral postulate of our time is that in pursuit of the destruction of Hitler, all things were permissible. Yet why is it self-evident that morality required a crusade against Hitler in 1939 and 1940, and not against Stalin? At that point, Hitler had slain his thousands, but Stalin had already slain his millions. In fact, up to June 1941, the Soviets behaved far more murderously toward the Poles in their zone of occupation than the Nazis did in theirs. Around 1,500,000 Poles were deported to the Gulag, with about half of them dying within the first two years. As Norman Davies writes: "Stalin was outpacing Hitler in his desire to reduce the Poles to the condition of a slave nation." Of course, there were balance-of-power considerations that created distinctions between the two dictators. But it has yet to be explained why there should exist a double standard ordaining that compromise with one dictator would have been "morally sickening" while collaboration with the other was morally irreproachable. [All footnotes omitted; all emphases above added.]
On those unfortunate occasions over the past two years when I have been bombastically, excessively and ignorantly regaled with tales of the heroism, moral fortitude and unblemished character of the current, eminently undeserving occupant of the Oval Office, it has sometimes also been my regrettable fate to hear one George W. Bush favorably compared to other, allegedly similarly "great" historical figures. Prominent among these latter have been Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. It appears that Mr. Bush completes the Holy Trinity of Fearless, Implacable Destroyers of Ultimate Evil, Without Whom All Traces of Civilization Would Have Vanished from the Universe As We Know It.

I might begin by noting that one wonders just how many times Ultimate Evil will appear to threaten the future of mankind. If such Evil is truly "Ultimate," surely that characterization places it in the same category as "unique," does it not? ("Unique," I ruefully note, is similarly abused: unique originally meant "being the only one," although most people appear to forget that uniquely salient fact about its meaning.) But, to some extent at least, I have already covered that ground. I have also dealt with the actual record of Mr. Reagan [in a number of essays that may be reposted at some point], as opposed to Mr. Reagan's rhetoric, which admittedly contained many inspirational and even libertarian-sounding passages. Would that he might have cared more about translating those passages into action here on the Earth he was supposedly saving, rather than about the more superficial effects they produced. But they did sound enormously attractive (and occasionally inspiring, as I say), and they certainly served to convince many people who ought to have known better that Mr. Reagan was a more transformative figure in historic terms than the facts bear out.

One might also be pardoned for having thought that at least some of these same misguided idolators might surely know better by now, but the occasion of Mr. Reagan's death served to permanently dissolve unpleasant facts in the acid of grief and myth-making which appears to be one of those paradoxically celebratory rituals in which our disturbingly neurotic culture periodically indulges itself. I have dealt with the actual qualities exhibited by Mr. Bush in great detail in numerous entries here. One could legitimately describe Mr. Bush in many ways, but the facts are scarce and difficult of ascertainment to support characterizations on the order of "heroic" or embodying "moral fortitude" and "unblemished character." Perhaps "bizarrely detached from reality," or "profoundly anti-American," or "incapable of forthright, coherent speech," or "dedicated to obliterating individual rights" would be more to the point. No matter; Mr. Bush has now been sanctified by a landslide of historic proportions (or has he?), and facts that might undercut the already-burgeoning Bush Legend begin to vanish in the murky depths of uncertain collective memory. [In the year and a half since I wrote this, the general judgment of Bush appears, at long last, to be undergoing a significant shift. This is a very welcome change -- although it must be noted that it is several years, countless unnecessary deaths and grievous injuries, and many possibly irreversible and disastrous consequences too late. The evidence was there very soon after 9/11, but for far too many people, the demands of popular mythology take precedence over facts, and even over growing piles of corpses.]

One might also wonder about some of the underpinnings of this "Great Man" theory of history, which posits that absent these particular individuals, all manner of disastrous calamities would have overtaken pitiful, otherwise helpless humanity. Surely these worshippers of the Holy Trinity do not mean to dismiss all the rest of mankind as being entirely incapable of recognizing and defeating serious threats to their future...or do they? This "Great Man" theory becomes even more puzzling when it is offered, as it so often is, by people who simultaneously proclaim what they believe to be the ultimately determinative function of the ideas that a great number of men regard as true. If, as they claim, history would have been fundamentally altered had these great personalities not held power when they did, then ideas cannot be all that important, can they? But perhaps we can ponder these peculiarities, if not outright contradictions, of the views of the Worshippers of Great Men in more detail on another occasion.

For the moment, let us turn our attention for a while to the remaining pillar of the Holy Trinity of Civilization's Saviours, Winston Churchill. The quotations set forth at the beginning of this entry are from Ralph Raico's superb essay, "Rethinking Churchill," which will be found in the equally superb and invaluable volume, The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories. I recommend you purchase it immediately. I have mentioned Raico's work before, at length in this essay about the critical turning point in America's foreign policy, the Spanish-American War [also to be reposted]. It is worth noting again that the same people who idolize men such as Bush, Reagan and Churchill appear similarly ignorant about this all-important episode in American history. It seems that the myth of the United States as the sole nation in world history dedicated at all times to liberating the oppressed people of the world is as central to the idolizers' psychology as their desperate need for the Saviour Father Figure, without whom none of us would be safe from harm. The fact that the United States sometimes employs means requiring the death of hundreds of thousands of Filipino civilians -- or 100,000 Iraqis -- is of no moment; the only significant element is the United States' intentions, which are always impossibly pure, noble and transcendent. In the face of such high-sounding intentions, no matter how distant they may be from the actual results of the policies employed in fact, mounds of human corpses are a trivial detail. [See this more recent essay as well, which has much more about the Philippines episode.]

I can only aspire to such intellectual detachment from the sordid details of human death and suffering. It is a goal worthy of emulation in each and every moment of the comparatively paltry existences of lesser mortals, who look upon piles of broken human bodies and occasionally wonder: Why? What supposed purpose can possibly justify this? It appears that certain questions are too disturbing for some people to contemplate, although they would hasten to enlighten us as to how we are "missing the point" by considering them. "The point," of course, is the Great Idea.

I will grant the Worshippers of the Saviours of Humanity -- who also worship at the shrine of the Great Idea, a notion so "great" that it proves incapable of being reattached to facts here on Earth -- that Churchill genuinely appreciated the Great Idea. Not for Churchill, any mere concern with messy details concerning adherence to principle or for the effects of the Great Idea on the lives of particular men. And what was the Great Idea which so animated Churchill's life? Raico tells us (in the following excerpts, as in those above, I have added the emphases and eliminated footnotes):
Finally, there was what appeared to be the abiding love of his life, the British Empire. If Churchill stood for anything at all, it was the Empire; he famously said that he had not become Prime Minister in order to preside over its liquidation. But that, of course, is precisely what he did, selling out the Empire and everything else for the sake of total victory over Germany.
Raico notes that one other principle "for a long while seemed dear to Churchill's heart" -- anti-Communism. But Raico goes on:
Yet the time came when Churchill made his peace with Communism. In 1941, he gave unconditional support to Stalin, welcoming him as an ally, embraced him as a friend. Churchill, as well as Roosevelt, used the affectionate nickname, "Uncle Joe"; as late as the Potsdam conference, he repeatedly announced, of Stalin: "I like that man." In suppressing the evidence that the Polish officers at Katyn had been murdered by the Soviets, he remarked: "There is no use prowling round the three year old graves of Smolensk." Obsessed not only with defeating Hitler, but with destroying Germany, Churchill was oblivious to the danger of a Soviet inundation of Europe until it was far too late. The climax of his infatuation came at the November, 1943, Tehran conference, when Churchill presented Stalin with a Crusader's sword. Those who are concerned to define the word "obscenity" may wish to ponder that episode.
I doubt that even episodes such as these will disturb the Churchill worshippers for long; they are as unconcerned with uncomfortable facts as Churchill himself was. "There is no use prowling round" the details of history, after all.

Speaking of forgetting uncomfortable facts, let us not forget this either:
Although his conservative idolators seem blithely unaware of the fact--for them it is always 1940--Churchill was one of the chief architects of the welfare state in Britain. The modern welfare state, successor to the welfare state of 18th-century absolutism, began in the 1880s in Germany, under Bismarck. In England, the legislative turning point came when Asquith succeeded Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister in 1908; his reorganized cabinet included David Lloyd George at the Exchequer and Churchill at the Board of Trade.


Churchill "had already announced his conversion to a collectivist social policy" before his move to the Board of Trade. His constant theme became "the just precedence" of public over private interests. He took up the fashionable social-engineering cliches of the time, asserting that: "Science, physical and political alike, revolts at the disorganisation which glares at us in so many aspects of modern life," and that "the nation demands the application of drastic corrective and curative processes." The state was to acquire canals and railroads, develop certain national industries, provide vastly augmented education, introduce the eight-hour work day, levy progressive taxes, and guarantee a national minimum living standard. It is no wonder that Beatrice Webb [one of the leaders of the Fabian Society] noted that Churchill was "definitely casting in his lot with the constructive state action."


Besides pushing for a variety of social insurance schemes, Churchill created the system of national labor exchanges; he wrote to Prime Minister Asquith of the need to "spread ... a sort of Germanized network of state intervention and regulation" over the British labor market. But Churchill entertained much more ambitious goals for the Board of Trade. He proposed a plan whereby:

["]The Board of Trade was to act as the 'intelligence department' of the Government, forecasting trade and employment in the regions so that the Government could allocate contracts to the most deserving areas. At the summit ... would be a Committee of National Organisation, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to supervise the economy.["]
How odd that so many of Churchill's current idolators would seem to disagree with every aspect of this "collectivist social policy." No matter; there is a Myth to be maintained, and the facts be damned.

Raico moves further along the trajectory of Churchill's career:
So far Churchill had been engaged in politics for 30 years, with not much to show for it except a certain notoriety. His great claim to fame in the modern mythology begins with his hard line against Hitler in the 1930s. But it is important to realize that Churchill had maintained a hard line against Weimar Germany, as well. He denounced all calls for Allied disarmament, even before Hitler came to power. Like other Allied leaders, Churchill was living a protracted fantasy: that Germany would submit forever to what it viewed as the shackles of Versailles. In the end, what Britain and France refused to grant to a democratic Germany they were forced to concede to Hitler.
Ironically--considering that it was a pillar of his future fame--his drumbeating about the German danger was yet another position on which Churchill reneged. In the fall of 1937, he stated:
["]Three or four years ago I was myself a loud alarmist. ... In spite of the risks which wait on prophecy, I declare my belief that a major war is not imminent, and I still believe that there is a good chance of no major war taking place in our lifetime. ... I will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism and Nazism, I would choose Communism.["]

For all the claptrap about Churchill's "far-sightedness" during the 30s in opposing the "appeasers," in the end the policy of the Chamberlain government--to rearm as quickly as possible, while testing the chances for peace with Germany--was more realistic than Churchill's.

The common mythology is so far from historical truth that even an ardent Churchill sympathizer, Gordon Craig, feels obliged to write:

["]The time is long past when it was possible to see the protracted debate over British foreign policy in the 1930s as a struggle between Churchill, an angel of light, fighting against the velleities of uncomprehending and feeble men in high places. It is reasonably well-known today that Churchill was often ill-informed, that his claims about German strength were exaggerated and his prescriptions impractical, that his emphasis on air power was misplaced.["]

Moreover, as a British historian has recently noted: "For the record, it is worth recalling that in the 1930s Churchill did not oppose the appeasement of either Italy or Japan." It is also worth recalling that it was the pre-Churchill British governments that furnished the material with which Churchill was able to win the Battle of Britain.
Clive Ponting has observed:

["]the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments...had ensured that Britain was the first country in the world to deploy a fully integrated system of air defence based on radar detection of incoming aircraft and ground control of fighters...Churchill's contribution had been to pour scorn on radar when he was in opposition in the 1930s.["]
The following is of critical importance, although this appears to be a subject still considered entirely off-limits by the Myth-Worshippers in our midst:
Even after the fall of France, Churchill rejected Hitler's renewed peace overtures. This, more than anything else, is supposed to be the foundation of his greatness. The British historian John Charmley raised a storm of outraged protest when he suggested that a negotiated peace in 1940 might have been to the advantage of Britain and Europe. A Yale historian, writing in the New York Times Book Review, referred to Charmley's thesis as "morally sickening." Yet Charmley's scholarly and detailed work makes the crucial point that Churchill's adamant refusal even to listen to peace terms in 1940 doomed what he claimed was dearest to him--the Empire and a Britain that was non-socialist and independent in world affairs. One may add that it probably also doomed European Jewry. It is amazing that half a century after the fact, there are critical theses concerning World War II that are off-limits to historical debate.

Lloyd George, Halifax, and the others were open to a compromise peace because they understood that Britain and the Dominions alone could not defeat Germany. After the fall of France, Churchill's aim of total victory could be realized only under one condition: that the United States become embroiled in another world war. No wonder that Churchill put his heart and soul into ensuring precisely that.
In connection with his remark about "doomed European Jewry," Raico has this excerpt from The Goebbels Diaries:
On March 27, 1942, Goebbels commented in his diary on the destruction of the European Jews, which was then underway: "Here, too, the Fuhrer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately, a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this." He added: "the fact that Jewry's representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe--and that's only right."
No, I am not suggesting for a moment that Goebbels' disgusting "justification" for the extermination of the Jews should be given any weight at all -- although you can rest assured that certain defenders of the Great Man Myth will happily, if wrongly, seize on this detail to smear me and discredit all of these arguments if they should happen upon this essay. But what Raico and the other historians are pointing out, with a great number of facts to support their contention, is that Churchill's determination to destroy Germany as a competing power -- a Germany under any form of government, even a democratic one -- and his total dedication to ensuring that Germany would forever remain under the "shackles" imposed by Britain and her allies had costs and consequences, and some of them were so dreadful that they defy comprehension.

Raico has a number of further details about Churchill's hatred for everything German, whether it related specifically to Nazism or not, including these:
In October, 1944, Churchill was still explaining to Stalin that: "The problem was how to prevent Germany getting on her feet in the lifetime of our grandchildren." Churchill harbored a "confusion of mind on the subject of the Prussian aristocracy, Nazism, and the sources of German militarist expansionism...[his view] ... arose from a combination of almost racialist antipathy and balance of power calculations." Churchill's aim was not simply to save world civilization from the Nazis, but, in his words, the "indefinite prevention of their [the Germans'] rising again as an Armed Power."

Little wonder, then, that Churchill refused even to listen to the pleas of the anti-Hitler German opposition, which tried repeatedly to establish liaison with the British government. Instead of making every effort to encourage and assist an anti-Nazi coup in Germany, Churchill responded to the feelers sent out by the German resistance with cold silence. Reiterated warnings from Adam von Trott and other resistance leaders of the impending "bolshevization" of Europe made no impression at all on Churchill. A recent historian has written: "by his intransigence and refusal to countenance talks with dissident Germans, Churchill threw away an opportunity to end the war in July 1944." To add infamy to stupidity, Churchill and his crowd had only words of scorn for the valiant German officers even as they were being slaughtered by the Gestapo.
Raico's essay contains much, much more, including many details concerning the profoundly revolting manner in which Churchill and Roosevelt eagerly surrendered much of Europe to Stalin and Soviet Russia, forever removing their own justifications for having eagerly allied themselves with such a monster.

Here is Raico describing what happened after Germany's defeat:
And so we come to 1945 and the ever-radiant triumph of Absolute Good over Absolute Evil. ...

The dark side of that triumph, however, has been all but suppressed. It is the story of the crimes and atrocities of the victors and their proteges. Since Winston Churchill played a central role in the Allied victory, it is the story also of the crimes and atrocities in which Churchill was implicated. These include the forced repatriation of some two million Soviet subjects to the Soviet Union. Among these were tens of thousands who had fought with the Germans against Stalin, under the sponsorship of General Flasov and his "Russian Army of Liberation." ...

Most shameful of all was the handing over of the Cossacks. They had never been Soviet citizens, since they had fought against the Red Army in the Civil War and then emigrated. Stalin, understandably, was particularly keen to get hold of them, and the British obliged. Solzhenitsyn wrote, of Winston Churchill:

["]He turned over to the Soviet command the Cossack corps of 90,000 men. Along with them he also handed over many wagonloads of old people, women, and children. ... This great hero, monuments to whom will in time cover all England, ordered that they, too, be surrendered to their deaths.["]


Worst of all was the expulsion of some 15 million Germans from their ancestral homelands in East and West Prussia, Silesia, Pomerania, and the Sudentenland. This was done pursuant to the agreements at Tehran, where Churchill proposed that Poland be "moved west," and to Churchill's acquiescence in the Czech leader Eduard Benes's plan for the "ethnic cleansing" of Bohemia and Moravia. Around one-and-a-half to two million German civilians died in this process. As the Hungarian liberal Gaspar Tamas wrote, in driving out the Germans of east-central Europe, "whose ancestors built our cathedrals, monasteries, universities, and railroad stations," a whole ancient culture was effaced. But why should that mean anything to the Churchill devotees who call themselves "conservatives" in America today?
When one realizes that what such people are so zealous about "conserving" are only the myths without which their false image of themselves apparently would collapse, one understands why no number of facts such as these will make even a dent in their massive walls of denial. No number of deaths can compete with the desperate need to maintain a person's precarious sense of psychological identity.

Interestingly enough, Raico notes that after the war "Churchill's own expressions of profound self-doubt consort oddly with his admirers' own expressions of triumphalism." Indeed, in the preface to The Gathering Storm, the opening volume of Churchill's history of World War II, he wrote:
The human tragedy reaches its climax in the fact that after all the exertions and sacrifices of hundreds of millions of people and of the victories of the Righteous Cause, we have still not found Peace or Security, and that we lie in the grip of even worse perils than those we have surmounted.
As I have often noted before, this is the pattern followed by all wars of the past one hundred years: World War I created greater dangers than had existed before that conflict, which dangers led to World War II, which led to the "even worse perils" that even Churchill himself finally recognized -- the unrecognized tragedy and betrayal lying in the fact that it was the actions of men like Churchill and Roosevelt that made those "worse perils" possible, and inevitable.

Moreover, this is the same pattern we continue to follow today: Bush can keep repeating all he likes -- and to the great, unending delight of his adoring, unthinking idolators -- that the invasion and occupation of Iraq have made the United States and the world safer than they were before, but facts will not be obliterated by a rhetoric of lies and deception. And every expert who actually studies terrorism agrees that our continued occupation of Iraq, together with the constantly growing swath of destruction and death that the Iraqis' increasing resentment makes unavoidable as long as we remain, has only increased the terrorist threat -- and that our own actions recruit more new members to the terrorists' cause than they could dream of doing themselves.

This, too, is history repeating. The British trod the same path in Iraq almost one hundred years ago, and finally had to leave, having accomplished nothing except destruction and death. If he were still alive today, Churchill no doubt would have forgotten that history, although he himself was involved in it -- and would have urged Bush on the suicidal path he was determined to follow. In the face of mankind's endless capacity for denial, coupled with its endless quest for revenge and bloodshed even when such destruction leads only to greater dangers than had previously existed, it is no inconsiderable miracle that we have managed to survive this long. But we should not, and cannot, count on miracles to preserve us indefinitely.

I am tempted to say to those who cling to their indispensable myths that they should simply grow up and be adults. Face the indisputable facts, including the unending trail of death that our choices have brought us to date, and then adjust your direction accordingly. If enough people did just that, we might have a chance.

To that end, pick up The Costs of War, read Raico's essay and the other enormously valuable articles the book contains. And then perhaps we can agree as adults with Raico's conclusion:
[W]hen all is said and done, Winston Churchill was a man of blood and a politico without principle, whose apotheosis serves to corrupt every standard of honesty and morality in politics and history.
That judgment need not be the end of the story, but the end only to lies and myths which are undercut on every side by the overwhelming weight of facts. If we seek new wisdom and a new direction, it can serve as renewal, and a new beginning -- one founded on truth, and justice, and the value of a single human life.

For finally, that is all that truly matters: the irreplaceable, supreme value of a unique human being. Faced with the choice between the prospect of peace and happiness for that individual man or woman, or the lies we need only to maintain our vanity and myths, choosing should not be so difficult after all.