Churchill's Realism: Reflections on the Fulton Speech

Churchill's Realism: Reflections on the Fulton Speech

Mini Teaser: The speech is remembered today as a seminal pronouncement on behalf of the Atlantic solidarity and clearheaded realism. What is less remembered is that at the time the address brought down on Churchill a torrent of controversy.

by Author(s): Spencer Warren

Later, as wartime prime minister, Churchill generally disparaged
British planning for a postwar organization to succeed the League,
dismissing "these speculative studies" and recommending the
well-known advice to cooks, "First catch your hare." He was more
interested in furthering Anglo-American ties and in a Council of
Europe, which he saw as a means to contain Russia with the assistance
of American power and a revived France. He continued to prefer the
regional concept he had advocated in the 1920s.

During the course of the war he eventually acquiesced in the American
desire for a worldwide postwar body, but never had any illusion
concerning what it could achieve. He also strove to ensure that close
British ties with America not be jeopardized by the new world
organization. With reason, he feared the two were seen by some as
incompatible. According to Averell Harriman, at a dinner at Hyde Park
in August 1943 with President Roosevelt, Churchill spoke of
perpetuating the "fraternal relationship" in peacetime, at which
Eleanor Roosevelt expressed her fear that this might "weaken the UN
concept." Interestingly, in a speech to the House of Commons on
November 7, 1945, which was a preview of Fulton, Churchill virtually
ignored the UN as he dwelled on Anglo-American collaboration and U.S.
monopoly of the atomic bomb.

Churchill consistently saw first the League and then the UN as
abstract ideals that were secondary to concrete questions of power
and interstate relations. Both in the case of the League in the 1930s
and the UN after the war, he worked to use the international bodies
to buttress policies guided by traditional calculations of power
politics and national interest

Essay Types: Essay