Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

Synopsis

Largely because of his famous `Iron Curtain' speech, Churchill is often remembered as a determined Cold Warrior. Yet, for all his fervent anti-communism, he saw the creation of the Western Alliance as a step not towards war, but towards negotiations with the USSR. John Young shows how, as Prime Minister in the 1950s, Churchill hoped for a summit meeting with Soviet leaders, an end to the Cold War, and an era of peaceful scientific advancement by humankind. This is the first full critical analysis of the issue which dominated the last active years of one of the greatest statesmen of the twentieth century.

Excerpt

This book focuses on the efforts of Winston Churchill to relax international tension and achieve a Summit meeting with the leaders of the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. Why did the political career of one of the greatest British statesmen end with the single-minded pursuit of a Summit and why did he fail, almost completely, to achieve his aims? Largely because of his famous Iron Curtain address at Fulton, Missouri in 1946 Churchill is seen as the archetypal Cold Warrior, a determined opponent of Stalinism and advocate of Western military expansion. He was always, however, a highly complex, paradoxical character and the conventional image of him is far from the truth. Certainly he was a fervent anti- Communist, certainly too he believed in a well-armed American-led Atlantic alliance, but he also saw the creation of the Western alliance as a precursor to negotiations with the ussr and he hoped to put an end to Cold War tensions, so as to allow a period of peace and scientific advancement by humankind. His reasons for pursuing this vision can be understood by looking at his interpretation of international relations, his ambition to be a peacemaker as well as a great war leader, and his understanding of British vulnerability to attack in the era of nuclear weapons. This vulnerability was appreciated too by professional British diplomats, who also strove to lower international tensions and restrain the United States from bellicose actions. None the less, Churchill's aims and methods were very different to those of the Foreign Office. the reasons why he failed are many and include the opposition of his own ministers; the scepticism of major allies abroad (especially the all-important Americans); the deep enmities built up in the Cold War, particularly after the bitter conflict in Korea; the intricacies surrounding such issues as the reunification of Germany; and the Prime Minister's own declining health, as old age sapped his energy and effervescence, making him increasingly incapable of effective leadership. Ironically, the conditions necessary for a Summit only really developed in the closing months of his premiership. Yet the outlook he developed in the first decade of the Cold War made him the forefather of later European détente, with its desire to reduce the risks of European conflagration by moderating American policy, expanding trade and personal contacts with the Eastern bloc, and accepting the division of . . .

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